ASHEVILLE, N.C. - The UNC Asheville men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete in the Big South Outdoor Track and Field Championships this weekend hosted by Winthrop University at Irwin Belk Track.
The meet begins on Thursday at 2 p.m. and will run through Saturday afternoon.
“We’re generally pretty excited for this weekend,” said head coach Jesse Norman. “We’ve been on a good track this outdoor season, and we’re expecting to see some good things happen.”
Kicking off the Big South Championships for the Bulldogs will be senior thrower, Kurt Hibert in the men’s hammer. Last year his placed third at the Big South Championship.
“Kurt will be in both the hammer throw and the discus for us again this year,” Norman commented. “Last year he scored in both events for us, hopefully he’s be can move up in both. We’ll see what he’s able to do in his last championship.”
Throwing hammer for the women’s team will be redshirt senior, Corey McClintock. Coming off of a successful regular season and a personal best at Western Carolina, McClintock looks to carry her success into the championships.
“Corey is just going to focus on hammer for this meet. She’s ranked high, and that will be a big scoring event for us this weekend,” Norman said.
To round off the throws, the Bulldogs will have John Bellard and Sam Barbeau in the men’s javelin. Barbeau will be making his first conference appearance, while Bellard placed seventh in the event last year, scoring points for the team.
“John has made a lot of progress this year and will be running for a top five finish. Hopefully he’s rested up and ready to go get a big mark like he did earlier in the season,” Norman Commented. “Sam is one who’s right on the fringe of scoring points for us. If he can get in a good throw, he’ll be in the mix.”
The Bulldogs will be represented in the men’s and women’s high jump by John Bellard and Meredith Foster respectively.
“We’re hoping that John can get have a really good championship meet like he did indoors and sore a point or two for us,” Norman commented. “We’re hoping Meredith can defend her indoor conference title and reach that mark for NCAA Regionals.”
The men’s and women’s team will be represented in the long jump and triple by senior Courtney Henry and freshman, Argia Gibson. Both athletes represented the Bulldogs at the Indoor Championships.
“Argia is right on the border. She’s been looking good this past week or so. We’re hoping she can break her curse of just missing finals to round off a good freshman year,” Norman said. “Courtney is really focusing on the long jump this weekend. He had a great jump at High Point a couple weeks ago, but he scratched it. If he can do it again and get a good legal mark, he’ll be in good shape.”
Kassie Pierre will be representing the women’s team in sprints in the 400 meter hurdles. She enters the competition in seventh place, with a mark of 61.07 seconds. Pierre’s goal is to break 60 seconds.
“This will be a big event for us as far as points on the women’s side. I know she’s excited, we’ll see how she handles the pressure at Conference,” Norman said. “We’ve had a bet since last year, that if she can break 60 seconds I’ll have to run a race at one of our meets.”
The middle distance for the women’s team will be represented by Anna Gelbach, Zoey Hickey, Alyssa Lashway, Rachel Carson, Kelsie Rubino and Kylie Smith. Hickey will be competing in the 400 meter dash, while Lashwy and Gelbach will be competing in the 800 meter run.
“With Anna and Zoey, they are both in the mix. We’re hoping they will run a good race in prelims and live to fight another day in the finals,” Norman commented. “Alyssa made it into finals at the Indoor Championships for us to score, and I know she’s hoping to get in again.”
On the men’s side, Chase Stevens will be competing in the 800 meter run.
“Chase has been coming along pretty well this season. This will be a good learning experience for him. He’s been a pleasant surprise for us; hopefully he can have a big PR to set him up for an even better year next season.
Kelsie Rubino and seniors’ Rachel Carson and Kylie Smith will compete in the 1500 meter trials on Friday at 4:30 pm.
“Kelsie just took a big chunk off of her time at the High Point meet so she’s got the best scoring opportunity,” Norman said. “Kylie and Rachel can both be in the mix if they run smart, and if the race suits their racing style. We’re looking forward to see what they can do.”
In the men’s 1500 meter trails on Friday afternoon, the Bulldogs will have Jeremy Gower, Patrick Osborne and Caleb Smith competing.
“All of these guys run times that are right on the border of scoring points,” Norman commented. “We will have to see how the race plays out, but if we can get them all to the finals, hopefully they can kick out a few points.”
In the distance events, the Bulldogs will be competing in the 5,000 meter run and the 10,000 meter run. In the 5,000, the women will have Erin Dalton, Adrian Etheridge, Sarah Heisner and Kelsie Rubino. Freshman Sarah Heisner enters the Championships ranked the highest for the Bulldogs at seventh.
“The 5k and the 10k will be big scoring events for us on the women’s side. We have a lot of women in scoring range. We just need to capitalize on that,” Norman said.
In the 10,000 meter run, the women’s team will be represented by Kasey Briggs, Erin Dalton, Adrian Etheridge and Sarah Heisner. Junior Adrain Etheridge is currently ranked first in the Big South with a time of 38:45.79.
“Our conference is not as strong in the 10k this year,” Norman commented. “If we take advantage and run well, we can really score a lot of points there.”
For the men’s team, Andy Thornburg and Skyler Winchester will be doubling up in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter runs. Thornburg is ranked 15th in the 5k, and Winchester is ranked ninth in the 10k.
“Our long distance guys are a little beat up. We’re going to try to rest them up and see how they’re feeling when it comes time to race,” Norman said.
To cap off the championships, the men’s and women’s teams will be competing in the 4x400 meter relays.
“On the men’s side, we have an outside chance of scoring a point from the relay,” Norman said. “The women’s team has a chance to be a top five team if they execute.”