Johnson City, Tenn. – USC Upstate's Gilbert Kemboi won his third career A-Sun indoor conference championship when he broke the meet record to successfully defend his championship in the 5,000-meter run. His teammate Michael Meissner, who is the reigning A-Sun 400-meter outdoor champion, proved he can rule the conference indoors as well after winning the 400-meter title as the 2010 A-Sun Indoor Championships wrapped up on Saturday at the MSHA Athletic Center at East Tennessee State University.
The accomplishments of Meissner (Cottage Grove, Minn.) and Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) highlighted a strong performance by the men's team in the championships. The Spartans finished fourth with 90 points, doubling their point total from last year when they finished sixth. Upstate trailed conference champion ETSU (152), defending champion Kennesaw State (137) and Campbell (111). North Florida finished fifth with 81 points and was followed by Belmont (50) and Lipscomb (38).
"I am really proud of the effort that our men put into this championship," said Upstate head coach Jimmy Stephens. "We closed the gap considerably this year. We were in a position to compete for the conference championship. Had a few results gone differently, we would have been right there. Still, this was a great event for us. In the end, the teams that finished ahead of us just had more depth. But, like I said, we closed the gap considerably and I could not be more proud of our effort."
On the women's side, Jacksonville won the championship with 219 points. UNF was second at 154 points and was followed by Kennesaw State (99), ETSU (72), Lipscomb (53), Campbell (41), Upstate (15) and Belmont (10).
"Our women battled throughout the championship," said Stephens. "We had several people break school records or post personal bests. The field is just so deep that to get any point was an accomplishment. I am proud of the effort we put in. I thought we did well and we did our best."
Kemboi was dominant in the 5,000-meter run. He traveled the distance in a time of 14:43.81 to break the conference record by 34 hundredths of a second. The previous meet record was set by ETSU's Kenneth Rotich in 2008 when he won the title with a time of 14:44.15. Kemboi won the 5,000-meter run in last year's championship. He has now won three indoor titles in his two seasons with the Spartans. He is also the reigning A-Sun cross champion in cross country.
Meissner broke his own school record in winning the 400-meter race. He claimed the title by nine one-hundredths of a second in a time of 49.44. He topped his own school record by seventh tenths of a second. It marks his second conference championship after winning the 2010 outdoor title in the 400 meters.
Upstate won two conference championships and finished in the top three in seven other events. Kemboi finished second in the 3,000-meter run on Friday. Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) finished second in the high jump, clearing a height of 6-08.25, his top performance of the season. Kenny Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) claimed second in the shot put on Friday. He broke the meet record with a throw of 55-11.25, but watched as ETSU's Jarrod Burton took the title with a throw of 57-03.75. Sugashita's performance smashed his own school record by better than three feet. He was not done, though, and gave a solid effort in the weight throw as well. He finished third with a school record toss of 53-05.75, bettering the old mark by two and a half feet.
Ben Wheeler (Spartanburg, S.C.) finished third in the 60-meter hurdles, crossing the finish line with a new school record of 8.25. He lowered the school record by nearly four hundredths of a second. Dominique Davis (Spartanburg, S.C.) finished eighth in the heptathlon, but pulled off a second-place showing in the high jump event with a jump of 6-01.50, the second-highest jump in school history indoors.
On the women's side, Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) led the Upstate attack. She claimed two top-six finishes in the 5,000-meter and 3,000-meter runs. She finished third in the 5,000 meters with a time of 17:49.97, the third-fastest time in school history. She also finished sixth in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 10:23.03, the fourth-fastest time in school history. Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) finished sixth in the 5,000 meters and eighth in the 3,000 meters.
LaTerrica Blocker (Stone Mountain, Ga.) broke a personal best in the high jump, finishing fifth in the high jump portion of the pentathlon with a jump of 4-11.50. It followed her 15th-place effort of 4-09.00 in the championship high jump event. She finished 12th overall in the pentathlon, breaking the school record with 2,308 points.
Ashley Edmond (Columbia, S.C.) broke a pair of school records in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. She ran the 200 in a time of 26:30, topping her own school record by 24 one-hundredths of a second. In the 400, she covered the distance in a time of 1:00.43, topping her owns school record by 19 one-hundredths of a second.
In one of the championship's most exciting events, Upstate came from last place to almost pull off the win in the men's 4x400-meter relay anchored by Meissner. The Spartans (Cameron Thomas, Michael Johnson, Matt Johnson, Meissner) claimed a second-place finish in the race with a time of 3:20.12, finishing .97 behind Kennesaw State.