Spartanburg, S.C. – The USC Upstate track and field team returns to action for the first time in three weeks this weekend as it travels to Jacksonville, Fla. for the 2015 A-Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships hosted by North Florida at Hodges Stadium.
The two-day meet begins Friday morning at 9 a.m. with the first four events of the women’s heptathlon followed by the men’s decathlon at 9:30 a.m. The final event on Friday will be the running of the women’s 10,000-meters at 8:55 p.m. The schedule of events for Saturday starts at 9 a.m. with the conclusion of the men’s decathlon and closes later that evening at 8:45 p.m. with the men’s 4×400-meter relay.
“We are looking forward to an exciting and competitive conference championship,” said head coach Natalie Smith. “Even though our conference is small in the sense of number of teams that we have, it is a very competitive conference. There are so many events where only milliseconds, seconds and a couple of feet separate a top contender to one that is 10th or 11th in the conference.”
USC Upstate last competed at the Carolina’s Cup in Rock Hill, S.C. on Apr. 22 where the women won the team competition after taking home five first place finishes. The men finished third overall as Jake McKown turned in the top throw for the A-Sun this season in the javelin. The Spartans saw Brittany Walls, Draneisha Griffin, Destinie Sykes, Alexis Jacobs and Essence Jackson each finish first at the Carolina’s Cup. The trio of Walls, Griffin and Sykes won their first individual event of the season with Walls in the high jump, Griffin the long jump and Sykes the triple jump.
The Spartans combined for six medals at last season’s A-Sun Championships led by two from Walls. She began day two of the meet by picking up her second straight Third Team All-Conference honor in the heptathlon and then followed by becoming the first athlete in program history to be named All-Conference in the high jump, earning Second Team accolades. Jacobs and Jackson also became the first Upstate female athletes in program history to pick up All-Conference recognition in their respective event as Jacobs was named Second Team in the shot put and Jackson Third Team in the 800-meter run. The 4×100-meter relay combination of Semaj Tolliver, Dominique Nock, Heaven Briggs and Brenicke Johnson ran to a second place finish in the event to garner Second Team All-Conference honors.
“We believe our athletes are ready to go and will compete well this weekend,” Smith added. “Our team has had some highs and lows this season, and we believe that, although we are fairly young in some areas, they will all step up and compete big.”
The women finished sixth at last season’s outdoor championships behind a program-best 71.5 points and the men also placed sixth after compiling 35 points.
Entering the weekend, the Spartans have 24 athletes ranked 10th or better in their respective event with five placed in three events. On the men’s side, Patrick Jamison and Donnie Hutchison sit inside the top 10, while the women have Jacobs, KeAndrea Ladson and Meagan Bailey. McKown sits atop the conference rankings in the javelin throw following his school record toss of 49.03-meters at the Carolina’s Cup. Jacobs leads the league in the shot put after turning in a mark of 13.95-meters during the Winthrop Invitational.