TSU hosts TAAC track
Published 12:00 am Friday, April 21, 2000
From Special Reports
Friday night at 5 p.m. the Trans America Athletic Conference Track and Field Championships get underway on the Jesse H. Colley Track in TSU’s Memorial Stadium.
The host Trojans are the defending men’s and women’s champions, but both teams will be in the fight of their lives as in-state rival Samford is the pre-meet favorite on the men’s side while Central Florida appears to have the strongest women’s team overall.
In Friday’s activities TSU footballer’s Al Lucas, Charles Thomas and Tim Betts will be featured in a head-to-head battle with Thomas Moral from Campbell in the men’s hammer. Amanda Mason has an excellent chance of capturing both the women’s javelin (where she is the conference leader) and hammer titles, but will have to beat defending champions Katara Beard and Amber Twyner from Central Florida in both events.
For the Trojan men, baseballer turned track star Jared Johnson teams with decathletes Chris Brongel and Joe Gillaspie as they hope to beat out Jacksonville’s Dan Irbe for the men’s javelin title. Other feature activities will include the men and women’s 10,000-meter races and the preliminaries of the 100-meter dash and 110 (men) and 100(women) meter hurdles.
Football All-American Eric Sloan and Robbie Strickland lead the Trojan men sprinters, while defending champion Sharmeka Barnes will get a strong challenge from Monique Tubbs of Jacksonville in her race. In the hurdles TSU’s Melissa Dailey has the fourth best time in the conference, while Gillaspie and Arrington Watkins are ranked third and fourth respectively for the men.
Saturday’s action begins at 7 a.m. as the 5000-meter races are run in the cool of the day. TSU distance ace Kelly Heinzman will challenge defending champion Sarah Howard of Georgia State for the women’s title, while junior John Fesh will represent the men’s team in the race.
The rest of the field events will resume at 11 p.m. with the women’s pole vault. Racing events get underway at 1: 15 with the finals of the hurdles and 100-meter dashes.
One of the feature events of the afternoon will be TSU’s Alisha Denson’s attempt to clear 6 feet in the high jump. Denson, the sixth-ranked high jumper in the United States, has a best of 5’11.5" to her credit.
Other Trojans to watch will be Lucas again in the shot (going for his fourth straight conference title) and discus, and defending champions Jacob Stutzman (high jump) and Joe Nelson (long and triple jump champion).
Mason has a chance for a third title in the discus, while freshman Takia Shoats should compete well in the women’s shot and discus. Edna Caraballo and Josh Jackson both hope to score big points in their respective 800-meter runs. TSU senior Mike Finley will attempt to defend his 400 intermediate hurdle title against two excellent Samford hurdlers in David Henson and Derrick Moore.
Joe Clark has been the TAAC leader in the 400 meters all season and is favored to win the event. Clark will also compete for the 200 title against teammates Sloan and Strickland, plus two runners from Jacksonville. Clark will team with Finley, Strickland, and Zack Vann in the 4 x 400 meter relay, which could determine the men’s champion.
In the women’s 200, Barnes again will be have to run her best to defeat Tubbs who has the season’s best time with a 24.74 effort. The women’s 4 x 400 team of Natalie Simmons, Caraballo, Denson, and Dailey will have their hands full with Campbell’s team which has run a conference best of 3:53 this season..
"This is going to be a humdinger of a meet," TSU Head Coach Bob Lambert said. "Anyone of four teams can win the men’s and women’s team titles. We hope that our kids will step up and take advantage of the home field advantage to record their best marks of the season. We’ve been suffering from injuries and illness all year, but this may be the week we fmally put it all together. We’re hoping that the stands are packed with cheering students, faculty, and citizens of Pike County as we go for the gold."