Spartan Track & Field Sends Three to NCAA Regionals for Upstate’s First Trip
SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Three members of the USC Upstate men's and women's track & field programs made the preliminary qualifying list for the 2012 NCAA East Regional in senior Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) and juniors Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) and Kenny Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.), marking the programs' first trips to the NCAA Regionals.
Sang will represent the Spartan women in two events, qualifying for the 5,000-meter and the 10,000-meter runs. She posted a program-best time of 16:35.36 at the Duke invitational April 6 in the 5K. The senior recorded another school record this season in the 10K, crossing the line in 35:06.57 at the Raleigh Relays March 30.
"We are so excited to have these three great student-athletes going to represent our team and the USC Upstate community at the 2012 Regional Championships," said head coach Natalie Smith. "Throughout the entire season Jemeli, Gilbert and Kenny were a sight to see and now we will get the opportunity to see them on a much larger stage and I believe that they are each ready for the challenge."
For the Upstate men, Kemboi qualified for the men's 10,000-meter run. He posted an Upstate record in the event with a time of 29:51.99 March 30 at the Raleigh Relays.
"Having these three individuals be our first representatives at this level since the program came into existence is paramount for our program, but even more importantly these young adults are the epitome of what we believe is true success in our program," Smith said. "They believe in academics, hard work, community and family, so when they step out there to compete I know without a doubt that they do it for more than themselves."
Sugishita will compete in two events for the Spartan men in Jacksonville next week. At the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Championship, he won the men's discus with an A-Sun meet record and a school record toss of 52.53-meters (172-04). The junior also qualified for the regional meet in the hammer throw. Sugishita claimed a program-best mark in the event with a distance of 58.15-meters (190-9), which he recorded at the Auburn Track Classic April 6.
"The competition will be very steep, however I believe that each of our athletes has progressed and actually gained more momentum after finishing conference a month ago," Smith said. "We are all looking forward to putting on our Spartan Green next week and all I can say is, 'Go Spartans.'"
The 2012 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Preliminary rounds are May 24-26. The East Regional will be hosted by North Florida in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow the Spartans this season on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.