Feb. 28, 2014
Winston-Salem, N.C. -
Western Carolina men's and women's track and field teams head the Southern Conference Indoor Championships as the women's team looks to defend its 2013 indoor championship and the men look to improve on its third place finish last season.
The Catamounts have had a strong showing building up to the championship, which will be held at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, N.C. WCU competed at the site back on Saturday, January 11 in the Wake Forest Invitational.
On the women's side, the Catamounts will be led by 2013 Most Outstanding Field Performer Alisha Bradshaw and 2013 Freshman of the Year Tayla Carter.
Bradshaw enters the indoor championship as the conference's top performer on the year in the weight throw. Her distance of 17.90m at the Niswonger Invitational not only set a WCU school record, but is also the best mark by two tenths of meter - seven inches. She is also ranked third in third in the shot put with a distance of 14.04m set at the Bob Pollock Invitational.
Carter comes into the championship meet leading the conference in two events, the 60m and the 200m. Carter sits atop the 60m performance list with a time of 7.47, which is a converted time of her school record setting performance in the Appalachian Invitational in the 55m when she finished with a time of 6.91. When running the full 60m, Carter's best time this year is 7.50 from the Southern Miss Cupid Classic two weeks ago. In the 200m, Carter snapped the WCU school record with a time of 24.28 putting the sophomore atop the performance list. For her performance at the meet, Carter was recognized by the league's office with track athlete of the week honors.
WCU also has the top performer in the 400m, Genevieve Emrick, who ran a time of 55.15 at the Southern Miss Cupid Classic. Emrick also picked up SoCon Track Athlete of the Week for her performance at the Bob Pollack Invitational where she ran a time of 55.98, which converts to a time of 55.25 on the SoCon ranking system. Her time pot her atop the SoCon performance list at the time - a mark she herself would later top at the Cupid Classic.
Other notable performers by the WCU's women's team heading into the indoor championship, are Micheala Birek and Chenell Bryan
. Birek was name field athlete of the week for her school record-breaking performance in the pentathlon at the UNC Taylor Challenge. She posted a time of 9.12 in the 60m hurdles and jumped a distance of 1.52m in the high jump. She followed that up with a distance of 10.46m in the shot put, and distance of 5.33m in the long. In her final event, she ran time of 2:24.68 in the 800m. Birek enters the SoCon championship ranked third in the pentathlon and fifth in the long jump with a distance of 5.60m from the Wake Forest Invitational.
Chenell Bryan was also honored by the league's office after a 5.76m distance jump in the long jump. At the time Bryan paced the SoCon and will enter the championship in second place.
According to the Southern Conference's power rankings heading into the meet, the Catamounts sit in atop the standings with 139.7 points, while Samford in second at 117 points. Appalachian State is third with 106.7 points, while Georgia Southern, 98.2, and Elon, 89.4, round out the top five.
On the men's side, the Catamounts Abraham Faison and David Johnson are the only two Catamount competitors on the top of their respective performance lists.
Faison is the top runner in the 60m hurdles with his personal best time of 8.20 at the Niswonger Invitational. He has finished in the top 10 in the 60m hurdles in all six WCU meets this indoor season.
Johnson, who was honored as the SoCon Field Athlete, for his SoCon leading 14.93m jump in the Dick Taylor Challenge, has placed in the top five the three meets he competed in this season. He is also ranked sixth in the long jump with a distance of 6.81m from the Bob Pollock Invitational.
Other notable performers for the Catamounts are Jeffery Hendricks, Jerry Wickerson and Jermaine Lewis all in the 60m hurdles. Hendricks and Wickerson are also expected to contribute in the 200m, while Early Rahming has had a strong season in the 400m. Travis Alfaro will add points for WCU in the 5,000m, while Sam Lusty and Christian Carswell will anchor the Catamounts in multiple events.
In the SoCon's power rankings, the Catamounts are in second, two and a half points out of first place, with 152.5 points. Samford has the top spot with 155 points, while Appalachian State is in third with 140 points. Furman, 81 points, and The Citadel, 59 points, round out the top five.
Overall the Catamounts have emphasized a team effort not relying individual performances.
The championships will begin Saturday at 10 a.m. with the women's pentathlon events, followed by the men's heptathlon events at 10:15 a.m. The awards ceremony is scheduled for Sunday at 4:40 p.m.
The event is free to the public. Live results, daily recaps, daily photos and video highlights can be found on the Southern Conference website and CatamountSports.com