January 24, 2009

Spartans Set Sights on Improvement

Jan. 24, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.

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After traveling to Boone, N.C., last weekend, the USC Upstate track and field team journeyed to Chapel Hill on Saturday to compete in the UNC Classic, the biggest meet the Spartans have seen thus far this season. With conference championships nearly a month away, the Spartans are still looking to fine tune many of their event areas.

The Upstate track and field squads met up with conference opponent, Kennesaw State, as well as nearly 20 other teams competing in the UNC Classic on Saturday. With events starting as early as 10 a.m. and lasting until 8:30 p.m., it was surely a long day for the Spartans on the road.

"We saw some great competition today but it was a tough day for us and it didn't go as well as we had hoped," said Upstate head track and field coach Jimmy Stephens. "The meet experience will ultimately help us in the long run, but it proved that we do have a lot of work to accomplish before Conference and we have to get it done."

On the distance side, Emily Tangwar sparked the Upstate team with a third-place finish in the 3,000-meter run and a fifth-place finish in the mile run. Tangwar finished behind A-Sun Conference runner-up, Mackenzie Howe of Kennesaw State, and Jennifer Povick of Appalachian State in the 3,000-meters with a time of 10:13.97, an impressive finish after recording a new personal best time of 5:15.33 in the mile prior to the 3K. Caroline Chelulei also ran a strong mile for the Spartans in 5:32.21. Freshman Jemeli Sang joined Tangwar in the 3K run, earning a top-ten finish with a time of 10:44.50

Freshman Joan Tangwar, Emily's younger sister, finished strong in the 800-meters, earning an eighth-place finish among 55 athletes with a time of 2:24.05. Caroline Chelulei finished close behind in 2:29.80.

Nicole Yancey and Maria Ruvalcaba Trigueros represented the Spartans in the women's 5000-meter run, while Conrad Goeringer and Matt Henderson ran for Upstate in the men's 3,000-meter run. James Jackson, Goeringer and Henderson also competed in the men's mile run.

"I thought the guys just looked ok in the 3,000-meters today," said Upstate assistant coach Ed Schlichter. "We're still flat and not supposed to look our best right now. It's imperative that our athletes take something away from today and continue to learn how to get out better and pace themselves. Everyone has demonstrated that they can improve.

"Joan improved a lot, dropping eight seconds off her 800-meter time from last week. Emily also rebounded greatly today from her finish in the mile to finishing third in the 3K. Jemeli had a good performance in the 3K as well. We have a bunch of solid runners who can be threats. We just have to continue to work hard."

The Spartans faced some challenges in the field events. "Because of the field and meet size, there were standards in the long jump and throws where results before a certain mark weren't measured," Stephens said. "It was a mark we could have hit but we just didn't do it today. I don't think our throwers really got to show their strength because of these marks. We didn't throw great today, but we looked ok."

With a minimum mark of 11-meters for the women's shot put and 12.20-meters for the men's, the Upstate throwers were unable to record any results past these markers. Dee Dee Allen and LaTerrica Blocker competed for the women, while James Miles and Marc Wartenberger threw for the men. Wartenberger also saw action in the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump. Kayla Speed, Dee Dee Allen and Eric Chapman represented the Spartans in the weight throws.

Justin Crawford's finish of 4.20-meters in the men's pole vault event was a key highlight for the Spartans, as he earned a fourth-place finish of 12 competitors.

Perrish Goggins, Joseph Jiles, Reggie Thompson and Dakota Speed all competed in the high jump, with Goggins achieving an eighth-place finish with a jump of 1.93-meters.

"Dakota and Joe looked good jumping today as well," said Stephens. "I expect them to come around in the next few weeks. I wanted to work on the triple jump today and we were able to do that with Perrish competing and gaining some experience in the event. The competition we saw today was very challenging but it was something that our guys needed to see."

The women saw Kiah White, Ashley Moore and Erin Tyre competing in the 200-meter dash, with White leading the way with a 27.78 finish. In the 400-meter dash, Sheliah Williams, White and Adrienne Singletary earned respective finishes for the Spartans.

For the men, Graham Long competed in the 60-meter dash. Michael Meissner, who did not compete last week, gave a strong effort in the 200-meter dash, earning a 27th-place finish of 50 athletes with a time of 23:88. Meissner also ran the 400-meter dash. Upstate cross country runners Joe Holzinger and Derek Winslett both ran the 400-meter and 800-meter events, and were joined by senior Kevin Brabham in the 800-meter run.

"We're looking to get our 400-meter runners stronger," Stephens said. "They started out well but we need to work on increasing our strength in the upcoming weeks of practice. Overall, I'm a little disappointed with the day. We can perform better, we just need to work harder and compete with some more intensity. "

"I think everyone fell short of what they are capable of," added Schlichter. "It wasn't a loss by any means because it gave the athletes some good experience. It just gave us some crucial things to work on."

The Spartans will be back in action next Friday and Saturday, Jan. 30-31, at the ETSU Invitational in Johnson City, Tenn.

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