Meissner Races to Gold on Final Day of A-Sun Championships
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The highlight of the day for the USC Upstate track and field team was a come from behind victory by junior sprinter Michael Meissner. Meissner claimed the individual championship in the men's 400-meter dash after a school-record time of 48.51.
“Michael is a prime example of if you work hard, you can achieve your goals,” said head coach Jimmy Stephens. “He has done an outstanding job all year long being a leader for our team and his performance today proved that hard work and determination do in fact pay off.”
As the field made the final turn for home, Meissner found himself in fourth-place. Meissner made a tremendous push down the stretch as he crossed the finish line ahead of Kennesaw State's David Tansey (48.61) and Tim O'Dell of ETSU (48.62) to claim the victory. Today's victory by Meissner is the first indoor or outdoor championship for the junior Spartan.
“Before the race, I just kept telling myself that I had to give it my all today,” said Meissner. “I knew that today's 400-meter dash was the final time I would be competing in the event this season and I had to leave everything I had out on the track. I just had to focus on giving it my all and hope that it was enough. Coming down that final stretch, I was in fourth and I just kept telling myself over and over that I can catch these guys. I gave everything that I had that final 100-meters and the hard work that I had put in all season long paid off as I was able to cross the finish line first.”
The women's team finished fifth with a total of 49 points. It is the best finish in an outdoor championship for the women's team and it is also the highest points total they have recorded. The men's team finished sixth with 45 points. Jacksonville (247) claimed the women's championship, while Kennesaw State (269) took home the men's team championship.
“Overall, we had a good championship event, but we have a lot of things to improve on,” added Stephens. “We weren't satisfied with our points total in our third year of competition. We know what we have to work on as a team and I am excited about the future of the Upstate track and field program.”
Camille Masanotti (Ladson, S.C./Stratford) finished fourth in the women's heptathlon with a school-record total of 3,442 points. LaTerrica Blocker (Stone Mountain, Ga./Redan) finished right behind Masanotti in fifth place. Blocker recorded a total of 3,157 and both Spartans surpassed the old school record of 3,135 set by Erin Tyre at last season's A-Sun Outdoor Championships.
“Camille did a great job for us toward the end of the season and she showed that she will be a strong competitor in our conference,” added Stephens. “Also, Camille and LaTerrica really stepped up for us as they had solid performances in the heptathlon. They did not have a lot of preparation time, but with training during the summer and fall, they should be solid competitors in the event when next season rolls around.”
Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C./Pendleton) set a new program record in the 110-meter hurdles for the second consecutive day. Curry recorded a time of 14.84 en route to a sixth-place finish in the event.
“Brandon had an outstanding championship event,” said Stephens. “He set some personal marks as well as school records this weekend. To finish sixth in the 110-meter hurdles as a freshman is outstanding.”
In the men's 4x100-meter dash, the Spartans claimed fourth with a time of 43.01. The team of Brandon Curry, Michael Meissner, Danny Moore (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) and Dominic Simon (Sumter, S.C./Sumter) set a new program record. The quartet broke the old mark of 43.19 that came at the 2009 A-Sun Outdoor Championships.
The quartet of Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla./Niceville), David Dennison (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle), Danny Moore (Spartanburg, S.C./Dorman) and Michael Meissner set a new school mark in the 4x400 relay. Upstate claimed a sixth-place finish after a time of 3:24.73 as the four Spartans broke their old mark of 3:27.05.
In the men's 3,000 Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla./Niceville) recorded a fifth-place finish after setting a new school record of 9:56.54. Ritacco's time surpasses the old school-record that he set earlier this season at the Duke Invitational (9:59.19).
Both Lauren Walker (Columbia, S.C./Lugoff-Elgin) and Laura Transue (Greenville, S.C./T.L. Hanna) competed in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Walker turned in a fourth-place finish with a time of 11:50.93, which was just half a second away from her personal-best. Meanwhile, Transue finished 10th after recording a time of 12:51.09 which was nearly 15 seconds faster than her previous personal-best time of 13:04.99.
In the men's 400-meter hurdles, sophomore Danny Moore recorded a new school-record en route to a seventh-place finish. Moore finished in 55.82 as he surpassed his own school record of 56.28 that came in the opening outdoor meet of the season, the 49er Classic.
Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya/Alliance Girls) finished fourth in the 5,000-meter run with a time 17:47.07. Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya/Biwott Ngelel-Tarit) followed in seventh after a time of 18:01.84. Lauren Walker and Mary Alexander (Spartanburg, S.C./Spartanburg C.C.) also competed in the event on Saturday. Walker finished 13th (18:59.27), while Alexander finished 16th (19:15.25).
In the men's discus throw, Eric Chapman (Cowpens, S.C./Broome) claimed a sixth-place finish after a throw of 129-04.00/39.42. Chapman's mark is a new school-record as he surpasses his previous record of 129-02.50/39.39m.
“Eric continues to improve with each practice and meet that he participates in,” said Stephens. “His marks weren't where he hoped they would be this weekend, but he has only been throwing for about two years. What he has accomplished in that short amount of time has been outstanding.”
The women's 4x100-meter relay team claimed fifth after a time of 50.47. Gabrielle Walker (Chattanooga,Tenn./Mars Hill), Camille Masanotti, Kathryn Neely (Rock Hill, S.C./Northwestern) and LaTerrica Blocker combined to tie the school-record in the event.
In the women's 1,500-meter run, Carolyne Chelulei finished fourth after a time of 4:40.97. It was a new personal-best for the sophomore and she was less than three seconds shy of the school record of 4:38.02 set by Joan Tangwar at last year's championship event.
In the men's 1,500-meter run, David Dennison recorded a seventh-place finish with an event time of 3:58.11. His time of 3:58.11 was just shy of his school-record time of 3:57.55 that came earlier in the season at the Duke Invitational.
Cameron Thomas led a trio of Spartans in the 800-meter dash. Thomas finished in ninth after recording a time of 1:56.55. David Dennison finished 16th with a time of 1:59.71, while Dustin Thomas (Harrisburg, N.C./Hickory Ridge) finished 20th after a time of 2:04.48.
The season comes to a close for the Spartans as Upstate still remains in its transitional phase from Division II to Division I. The 2010-11 track and field season will be the final one of provisional status and beginning in 2011-12, Upstate will be eligible to compete at the NCAA Regional and National Championships.