2008 Track & Field Outdoor Preview
STATESBORO, Ga. Fresh off a third place finish at the Southern Conference Indoor Championships, the Georgia Southern track & field team is focused and prepared to make a run at the SoCon outdoor title in hopes of reclaiming their crown.
The Eagles understand that the 2008 season is a marathon and not a sprint and have been making the most of their opportunities. They also realize that it’s harder to stay on top then it is to get there and that this season everyone will be out to get them.
"I am really anticipating this outdoor season going well,” said GSU coach Natalie Smith. “We didn't finish indoor the way that we wanted to. I believe that the girls are going to use that as an eye-opener and realize that the season is in full swing and we have to take advantage of every opportunity that we have to get better.”
Last season, the Eagles earned their first-ever Southern Conference Outdoor Championship in Smith’s first season as head coach. On the brink of opening the outdoor season, GSU wants to embrace the past, while moving forward and preparing for another bid at the SoCon title.
A year ago, Georgia Southern won seven events at the Southern Conference Championships. Equally as impressive, 13 Eagles were tabbed All-Southern Conference for their performance at the Championships. Seven of the 13 members of the All-SoCon team are back on this year’s squad. The 4x400m relay team made up of Rashedah Arnold, Nicole Brown, Shauntel Jennings (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and Carla Ballard (Morrow, Ga.) broke the SoCon record with a time of 3:41.68.
Gone are the golden spikes of former GSU phenom Nicole Brown. However, Georgia Southern’s only track & field athlete to compete at the NCAA Championships traded in her spikes for a whistle and a stopwatch this offseason. An accomplished athlete, Brown was the 2007 Southern Conference Field Performer of the Year (indoor) and 2007 SoCon Track Athlete of the Year (outdoor). She holds 11 Georgia Southern school records as well as two SoCon records (60m indoor, long jump outdoor). Brown was named to the NCAA All-East Region team in 2007 for her performance in the 4x100m relay and the triple jump. She also claimed the East Regional Championship in the triple jump in 2007.
Brown has already made an impact on this year’s squad coaching the sprinters and jumpers to an impressive indoor season. Sophomore Shaunta Hamilton (Macon, Ga.) leaped a distance of 18’09.00” in the long jump earning a second-place finish at the SoCon Championships. GSU sophomore Demetrise Anthony (Manchester, Ga.) placed fourth in the triple jump at the indoor championships recording a mark of 39’09.25”.
Georgia Southern competed very well during the indoor season, which is what brings so much hope to this year’s squad. Nine GSU student-athletes notched scores during indoor competition that ranked on the indoor top-5 list. In the 60m dash, Anthony was edged out by five one thousandths of a second at the SoCon Championships giving her a second place finish. Anthony’s time of 7.567 officially moved her into second-place on the all-time list behind Brown’s time of 7.43 set in 2005. Jennings broke the school record in the 800m finishing fourth, while sprinting to a time of 2:16.43.
Sophomore Melanie Trumbo (Lilburn, Ga.) earned the SoCon title in the pentathlon with a score of 3,248 points at the Indoor Championships. Trumbo’s mark moves her into second-place in the Georgia Southern indoor record books. Trumbo also recorded a second place finish in the high jump with a jump of 5’04.25”. Ballard placed second in the 400m at the indoor championships racing to a time of 56.77. Ballard’s time ranks as the second-best time in school indoor history behind Marlo Mincey’s time of 55.84 set in 2004. Ballard also finished second in the 400m hurdles during the championship outdoor season. Both will be looked upon to contribute during the outdoor season and their successful indoor year will definitely give them the confidence they need to help the Eagles make a run at the title.
The Georgia Southern throwers will also be competitive as they return senior Jennifer Charles (Green Cove Springs, Fla.) and sophomore Jessica Irizarry (Kennesaw, Ga.). Throwing coach Jeremy Hinton is up for the challenge of helping the Eagles reclaim their crown.
Both throwers have enjoyed a lot of success, and will look to contribute to the overall achievements of this year’s unit. Charles and Irizarry both had impressive performances during indoor as well as during the 2007 championship season. Irizarry claimed the SoCon title in the javelin and was named All-Southern Conference for her efforts last season. Charles posted the fourth-best indoor throw in school history with a distance of 44’03.50” at the Texas Roadhouse Carolina Classic.
Distance runner Abby Bloom returns for her senior season as she’ll be looked upon for guidance from a young core of runners. Jennings will also be looked up to as she has a wealth of experience in mid-distance events. Fresh off the indoor and cross country seasons the distance runners should be in great condition when they finally hit the track for competition.
“Some of the events that we are looking to fare very well in this season are the relays, throws, hurdles, jumps and the 400 and 800m,” said Smith. This weekend we are going to have some of our runners run different events in order to maintain our base so I am excited to see how well we do in these new areas. Our season opener is being held in Conway, S.C. at the Coastal Carolina Invitational. We had some success there last year and we plan to do the same for the next two weekends."
The outdoor track & field season opens this Saturday, March 15, as the Eagles head to Conway, S.C. for the Coastal Carolina Invitational. The meet is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
Category: Track & Field
Published on Thursday, 13 March 2008 00:19