SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track and field teams are set to compete in the Niswonger Invitational hosted by ETSU Friday, Jan. 27-28.
The Spartans will compete against 28 other schools this weekend, including three fellow Atlantic Sun Conference teams in ETSU, Kennesaw State and Lipscomb. ETSU's roster includes the reigning A-Sun Female and Male Field Athletes of the Week in Katerina Vodova and K'vonte Scott, respectively.
"This meet will have lots of competition as well as many competitors so we are looking to be at the top in several different events," said Upstate head coach Natalie Smith. "As a coaching staff we have really began to help our team see the goal and the vision for what we would like to see them accomplish as individuals as well as a team. We are truly excited about where we are going if everyone continues to buy in to what we would like to accomplish."
At last year's edition of the Niswonger Invitational, the Spartan track and field squads recorded several school records with two of those records still on the books. Sophomore Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) posted a time of 1:56.59 in the men's 800-meter, while junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) clock in at 14:35.19 in the men's 5,000-meter.
"We are looking forward to the meet this weekend in order to see what progressions have been made over the last week of training," Smith said. "We are looking for some great performances from quite a few individuals on our teams. On the women's side we believe that the season is beginning to take shape for Joan Tangwar, Breana Kwasnik, Jemeli Sang, Ashley Edmond and Carolyne Chelulei in their respective events. Our team is starting to prepare themselves for the conference meet in a couple of weeks that will also be hosted at ETSU so this weekend gives our athletes a feel of what is to come."
In the Spartan women's last outing, senior Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) posted a school record with a winning time of 2.18.43 in the women's 800-meter dash at the Mountaineer Split Indoor Open Jan. 19. She beat her previous school-best of 2:19.71 set at the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships at ETSU in 2010. In the women's one mile run, Upstate claimed first, second and third places. Tangwar once again took first with a time of 5:08.64, while seniors Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) and Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) posted times of 5:14.45 and 5:15.07, respectively. Upstate sophomore Ashley Edmond (Hopkins, S.C.) earned a third-place finish in the women's 200-meter dash with a time of 27.66.
"On the men's side of the track Brandon Curry, Perrish Goggins, Kenny Sugishita, Gilbert Kemboi, Davey Dennison and Matthew Johnson are really doing a great job competitively in representing our program," Smith said. "They will all have good competition this weekend so we are looking for them to put up some great marks. All of these young men are passionate about what they do as track and field athletes and they look forward to competition. And on top of that, these men are just really fun to watch compete."
At the Mountaineer Split Indoor Open Jan. 19, the Upstate men's team also turned in strong performances as junior Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.) set a school record in the 55-meter hurdles with a third-place time of 7.89, passing his previous mark of 8.00 set at the Vince Brown Invite in 2010. Senior Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) took top honors in the men's high jump with a mark of 2.05-meters, while junior Kenneth Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) claimed second in the shot put and third in the weight throw. Sugishita registered scores of 15.61-meters in the shot put and 15.67-meters in the weight throw.
Upstate posted the top-four finishes in the men's one mile run at the Appalachian State hosted meet as Kemboi led the way with a time of 4:22.63. Junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) earned second-place honors, clocking in at 4:28.14, while sophomore Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya) took third with a time of 4:24.37. Sophomore Joey Daversa (Chesapeake, Va.) claimed fourth, crossing the line in 4:35.00. Dennison won the men's 800-meter run with a time of 2:01.74, while Kipchumba earned second-place, finishing in 2:01.78. Johnson recorded a third-place finish in the 200-meter dash, crossing the line in 23.03.