The men’s and women’s track and field squads traveled to Johnson City, Tennessee to compete in the IKON Invitational, hosted by Southern Conference rival East Tennessee State University, last weekend. The highlight of the meet for the Cats was the performance of the men’s 4×400 relay team, which set a new school record.
The squad, comprised of Derrick High, Tim Vaught, Akaba Glaspie, and Bola Oyegumywa, ran a time of 3:13.27. The record-rewriting performance was good enough for second place at the invitational. Also leading the way for the men’s team was Jeff Champbers, whose throw of 46 feet, 8.75 inches in the shot put competition gave him a third place individual finish.
The women’s side was paced by a strong long jump performance. Both Cedea Bowden and Kamata Potts earned a second-place finish in each of their flights. Bowden jumped 17 feet, 9 inches while Potts leaped 18 feet, 0.5 inches.
Western Carolina’s track and field head coach, Danny Williamson, felt that his teams’ performances had several different areas upon which they could improve.
“We had some good things and some bad things that we still need to work on,” Williamson said. “We can take what we did and build on it leading into the Southern Conference championship, which is always our team’s biggest goal.”
On January 19 and 20, Western Carolina competed in the 2001 Clemson Invitational in Clemson, South Carolina. With 87.5 points, the Lady Cats finished third out of the 21 competing teams, trailing the host Lady Tigers by only 5 points. At the same time, the Catamounts earned a fourth place finish with 46 points, only 1.5 points out of a top three finish.
The University of South Florida won the women’s team competition with a score of 132.5. The home-standing Clemson Tigers took the men’s team title, posting 210 points in the win.
It was the women’s time to shine in the 4×400 relay at Clemson, as they won the event with a time of 3:59.90. Benetta Boyd, Rosalyn Hood, Cedea Bowden, and Ronetta Burgess combined for the victorious effort.
Meanwhile, their performance in the field events also helped propel the Lady Cats to their third place finish. Val Jalajas earned a second place finish in the pole vault competition with a height of 11 feet, 3.75 inches. Potts also placed second in the long jump event, hopping 18 feet, 6.5 inches.
On the men’s side, distance events proved to be the most successful for Western Carolina. The distance medley relay squad finished in third place. Caleb Bailey, Johnny Bomar, Irving Hunter, and Jesse Norman converged for a time of 10:33.36 in the event.
Individually, Norman sprinted to a third place performance in the men’s 3,000-meter run.
Williamson felt each of his squad’s performances in the meet were a good starting point for their spring season. He feels his players will grow and improve from their effort in Clemson.
“For this to be our first meet back from the Christmas break we were a little rusty and still in the thick of things,” he said. “Since the meet, the teams have had two days of practice to get back to where they need to be. We need to take this meet as a positive and use it to move ahead.”
Western Carolina will travel back to Clemson this weekend with individual trips to Iowa State in the future as well.