LEXINGTON, Va. (Jan. 14, 2023) – The ETSU men’s and women’s track and field teams cleaned up in its season-opening meet this weekend.
Following a pair of top finishes on Friday, the Buccaneers bagged five more gold medals – finishing with seven total – as the final day of VMI Invitational concluded on Saturday inside the VMI Corps Physical Training Facility.
The Blue and Gold swept the titles in both the mile and 800m, while also bringing home gold in the women’s 3000m.
Fresh off her first collegiate win in the 1000m on Friday, Rebekah Howard (Ashland, Ky.) was back at it on Saturday. Howard captured the top spot in the mile after turning in a personal best time of 5:06.96, while just before that race, Evan Guzman (Franklin, Tenn.) started the day off with a bang as he earned the podium’s top spot in the men’s mile. Guzman clocked in at 4:16.32.
Shortly after sweeping the titles in the mile, Phelani Maduwa (Parys, Free State, South Africa) and Julia Karsten (Old Hickory, Tenn.) accomplished the feat in the 800m. Maduwa recorded his second career win in the 800m as a Buccaneer after posting a time of 1:52.21, while Karsten came back home with her first individual gold medal – finishing with a mark of 2:22.30.
Joining Maduwa with a strong showing in the 800m was teammate Miguel Parrilla (Knoxville, Tenn.) as he finished with a silver medal after posting a time of 1:53.32.
To wrap up the meet, the Bucs put together dominant performances in both the men’s and women’s 3000m.
After battling back from an injury during the cross country season, Kiera Snyder (Clyde, Mich.) started the indoor season on a positive note. Snyder won the 3000m with a personal best time of 9:45.56, while the Blue and Gold swept all three podium spots in the event. That marked Snyder’s second win in the 3000m.
Genevieve Schwarz (Oak Ridge, Tenn.) finished second (10:05.57) and Julia Foote (Franklin, Tenn.) placed third with a personal best time of 10:41.16. In total, the Bucs captured the top four spots as Lindsay Holliday (Maryville, Tenn.) finished fourth in 11:00.09.
On the men’s side, ETSU went second, third and fourth in the event, led by William Hartig (Radford, Va.) clocking a PR of 8:45.25. Freshmen Nate Hillis (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Xian Campbell (Chattanooga) finished right behind in 8:47.74 and 8:49.19, respectively.
In the field events, Malachi Thomas (Chilhowie, Va.) tied his best showing in the high jump as he finished second with a leap of 1.97m. Morri Howell (Franklin, Tenn.) set PRs in both throw events this weekend as he had a mark of 9.69m in Friday’s weight throw and posted a distance of 11.11m in the shot put on Saturday. Ethan Fulford (Knoxville, Tenn.) made his collegiate debut in the pole vault on Saturday where he finished tied for sixth with a mark of 4.20m.
With the season opener under its belt, ETSU returns to action next weekend when the Bucs stay in state and travel to Nashville for the Vanderbilt Invitational.
Below are comments from ETSU Director of Track & Field/Cross Country George Watts.
The meet was a good competition for our season opener. Most of our team was able to double up in events and had the opportunity to compete for wins and podium finishes. Quite a few of our student-athletes are well ahead of where they were last year at this time, and hopefully we can continue with that trend throughout both the indoor and outdoor season. As a precaution, we held out several athletes due to sickness and minor injuries, and hope to have a more complete showing in a couple of weeks.
On the women's side, I thought the bulk of the team did well. I thought Rebekah Howard, Kiera Snyder, Tya Blake, Diana Romero-Barba and Julia Karsten had a good showing. LaNaya Martin looked very good in her 60m prelim, but had a tough go in the semifinal and had to ease up before the finish. Karli Townsell won her first college race in her very first collegiate track race.
On the men's side, Ethan Fulford, Evan Guzman, Phelani Maduwa, Malachi Thomas, Braxton White, Logan Wagner and Miguel Parrilla all had a solid first meet.
The goal is to continue to take advantage of every opportunity and improve from meet to meet. I'm very pleased with the overall attitude and morale of both teams. I look forward to seeing both teams grow and mature moving forward.
For more information on Buccaneer men’s and women’s track and field, visit ETSUBucs.com.