Thursday, May 29, 2008

Track & Field Sends Six to NCAA East Regional Championshi

Six members of the Georgia Southern track & field team will begin competition at the NCAA East Regional Championships on Friday, May 30. Florida State University is hosting the meet at the Mike Long Track in Tallahassee, Fla.

“I am really excited for these young ladies,” said GSU track & field coach Natalie Smith. “These six individuals had a great 2007-08 season. I really hope that they will go into the championship with the confidence to do well.”

GSU seniors Demetrise Anthony (Manchester, Ga./Manchester) and Carla Ballard (Morrow, Ga./Morrow) are returning for the second straight year, but will both be competing in different events this season. Anthony will compete in the triple jump after qualifying at the Shamrock Invitational with a leap of 40’07.75”, while Ballard will participate in the 400m hurdles. Ballard, the Southern Conference 400m hurdles champion, had a season best time of 1:01.05 at the SoCon Championships.

Smith brought in two first-year coaches this season and has seen tremendous results. Former GSU phenom Nicole Brown, last year’s East Regional triple jump champion, returns to the meet as a member of the coaching staff. Brown guided Anthony, Shaunta Hamilton (Macon, Ga./Westside) and Lynndsey Hyter (Dallas, Texas/Kaiserslautern American High) to regional qualifying berths. While Brown has enjoyed a lot of success, so has first-year throwing coach Jeremy Hinton. Hinton molded senior Jennifer Charles (Green Cove Springs, Fla./Clay) into the Southern Conference shot put champion.

“I am not only proud of the student-athletes, but I am extremely proud of my coaching staff,” said Smith. “Both of my assistants this year were first-year coaches and each of them has athletes going to the championships this weekend. Coach Brown did an outstanding job with the jumpers. The athletes really relate to Coach Brown and the impact has been tremendous as a result. Coach Hinton worked directly with Charles and after only two seasons as a member of the track & field team will be making her first East Regional appearance. I know that she is stronger and a much better athlete all around. Much of that came from her determination and drive along with the push from Coach Hinton.”

Charles earned the Southern Conference crown when she threw a career best 44’07.50”. Her mark is the fourth best in Georgia Southern history.

Hyter qualified for the East Regional’s when she registered the second best triple jump in school history at the Shamrock Invitational leaping a distance of 40’09.50”. The All-Conference performer in the triple jump earned a spot in the long jump event posting a mark of 20’00.25” at the Irwin Belk Invitational. That distance ranks third in the GSU record books. Hamilton, the SoCon long jump champion, qualified for the event at the CCU Invitational when she recorded a distance of 19’1.50”. She was invited to compete in the triple jump when she landed the third best jump in program history (40’08.75”) at the Irwin Belk Invitational.

Sophomore Melanie Trumbo (Lilburn, Ga./Brookwood), Georgia Southern’s team MVP, earned a slot in the high jump at this weekend’s East Regional Championships. Trumbo won the high jump at the Southern Conference Championships when she cleared 5’6”. The distance was a career best and ranks second in the Georgia Southern record books.

“It's going to be a really great weekend at Florida State,” said Smith. “With this being an Olympic year we are most likely going to see some amazing things in the world of track & field. Our goal as a program is to increase the number of Regional qualifiers. I would like to have 50 percent of our team competing at Regional’s next year and believe with hard work, dedication and the four returners from this group that we have a good chance to make it happen.”

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