GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum men's and women's outdoor track & field teams will compete in their first South Atlantic Conference Championship meet, which will be held Thursday and Friday at the Irwin Belk Complex on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte.
The Pioneers competed at the SAC Indoor Championships for the first time in February and finished sixth in the men's competition and ninth in the women's. All 11 SAC member schools will be competing together for the first time at the Outdoor Championships, which is being contested for the fifth year.
Competition will begin Thursday morning at 8:30 with the men's and women's 10000 meter run, with finals in a total of 12 events (six men, six women). Trials in 14 events (seven men, seven women) will be held Thursday, with finals on Friday along with the remaining men's and women's events.
Freshman Widchard Guervil gave Tusculum its first-ever SAC gold medal by winning the 60 meters at the indoor championships, later finishing fourth in the nation in the event. Guervil will run in the 100 and 200 meters at the outdoor championships, looking to improve his NCAA Division II provisional qualifying times in each event. Guervil ran 10.48 seconds in the 100 at the Gamecock Invitational on April 7, and was clocked at 21.32 seconds at the Terrier Relays on March 30. Currently, Guervil is ranked 13th in the 100 meters and is tied for 27th in the 200 meters on the national performance list.
Sophomore Jacob Acklin will also compete in the 100 meters after tying for 10th on the SAC performance list with a time of 10.88 seconds set last weekend at the Aggie Invitational. Senior Evan Altizer is entered in both the 100 (11.01 seconds) and 200 (22.71 seconds), and is joined in the 200 by freshmen Althiery Leontes (22.52 seconds), Kedar Ashford (22.79 seconds) and Xavier Billups (23.36 during indoor). Leontes finished seventh in the 200 at the SAC indoor championship, giving the Pioneers two scorers along with Guervil who finished third.
The Pioneers' lone entry in the 400 meters is junior Khalil Green, who has not competed in the outdoor season but had the team's top four times during the indoor season, with a best of 52.16 seconds. Green finished 10th in the 400 meters at the SAC indoor championship and was part of the 4x400 relay team that took seventh place.
The Pioneers will be well-represented in the 400-meter hurdles, led by freshman Jaydon Johnson who was eighth on the SAC performance list with a mark of 59.44 seconds set at the Terrier Relays. Freshman Reginald Titre-Barnor is seeded 13th with a time of 1:00.17, followed by Xavier Hayes (1:02.28) and Althiery Leontes (no time).
Junior J'Quen Johnson is the Pioneers' top seed in the 800 meters, having been clocked at 1:58.56 at the Terrier Relays. Also entered are freshmen Malik Tann (2:00.08) and Isaac Hybarger (2:06.98). Freshman Jackson Beason is the Pioneers' lone entry in both the 1500 meters and the steeplechase, while Will Cronin will try to pull off the challenging double of the 5000 meters and 10000 meters.
In relays, Tusculum will be a contender for gold in the 4x100 meters as the lineup of Acklin, Billups, Leontes and Guervil will chase the NCAA provisional qualifying time of 41.10 seconds. The Pioneer quartet turned in its season-best time of 41.33 seconds to win the Gamecock Invitational on April 7. The 4x400 relay team of J'Quen Johnson, Ashford, Jaydon Johnson and Tann has a season-best time of 3:32.07 established at the 49er Classic on March 15.
In field event, sophomore Jay Boyd will compete in the high jump and long jump. Boyd was fourth in the long jump at the SAC indoor championship and backed that performance up by ranking seventh in the event in the outdoor season at 6.70 meters (21 feet, 11 3/4 inches) which was set at the Terrier Relays. Boyd will also compete in the high jump, in which he tied for eighth at the SAC indoor championship, and had a best mark outdoors of 6 feet at the Weems Baskin Relays on March 23 which puts him fifth on the performance list.
In the triple jump, junior Yannick Rosalie finished third in the indoor championship and ranks second outdoors in the conference with a mark of 14.36 meters (47 feet, 1 1/2 inches). Rosalie will also compete in the long jump along with Ashford, while Titre-Barnor is also entered in the triple jump.
The Pioneers have two entries in each of the four throwing events, with sophomore Christian Sisto entered in the shot put (41 feet, 7 3/4 inches), discus (101 feet, 10 inches) and hammer. Freshman Evan Grooms will compete in the discus (126 feet, 8 inches) and the hammer (112 feet, 3 inches), and freshman Zach Lane will throw in the shot put (40 feet, 1/2 inch) and the javelin. Also in the javelin will be freshman Nicholas Sisto (124 feet, 9 inches) while junior Travis Johnson will compete in the shot put (40 feet, 4 inches).
The Pioneers have loaded up in the sprint events, with 17 entries between the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes. Freshman Jayla Lewis is seeded 13th in the 100 meters with a best time of 12.70 seconds, with Autumn Blackwood at 13.81 seconds and Drew Wildman at 14.33 seconds.
A total of nine Pioneers are entered in the 200 meters, led by junior Raygene Minus at 26.83 seconds set at the Gamecock Invitational on April 7. Lewis (26.91 seconds) and freshman I'Keriah Day (27.10 seconds) are joined by freshmen Bailey Pruiett (27.43 seconds) and Hailey Cole (27.61 seconds) in the field, with Blackwood (27.63 seconds) and Wildman (29.51 seconds) also scheduled to compete. Also entered are freshman Kesia Griffith and sophomore Brittany Bowery.
Pruiett is the top entry for the Pioneers in the 400 meters, carrying a best time of 1:01.44 set at the Aggie Invitational on April 13. Minus (1:01.73 and Griffith (1:05.17) will also run for the Pioneers, joined by Cole and Bowery. In the 800, sophomore Katie MacDonald has a season-best time of 2:31.08 and will run along with freshman Hayden Fobare, who has been clocked at 2:36.42 in the event.
Junior Nicole McMillen returns to competition in the 1500 meters, after finishing third in the mile and fourth in the 5000 meters at the SAC indoor championships. She will be joined in the 1500 meters by sophomore Emily Stoklosa, who ran a time of 5:20.32 at the Weems Baskin Relays on March 23. Sophomore Alissa Furches is seeded eighth in the 5000 meters with a time of 18:37.59 set at the Gamecock Invitational.
The lone hurdles entry for the Pioneers is junior Deondra Thomas, who will be the first Tusculum competitor in the event this season. Thomas has run the 400 dash and has a best time of 1:09.19 in the event.
Tusculum's 4x400-meter relay team finished eighth at the SAC indoor championships and is seeded fifth outdoors (4:07.13), featuring Minus, Day, Pruiett and Griffith. The 4x100 relay of Briana McDonald, Day, Lewis and Blackwood was time at 50.65 seconds at the Terrier Relays.
Day will be the lone jumper for the Pioneers, entered in the long jump with a mark of 16 feet, 5 inches. Freshman Dynah Dunn will represent Tusculum in all four throws, with season-best marks in the shot put of 37 feet, 9 1/4 inches, the hammer at 99 feet and the javelin at 68 feet, 9 inches. She has not made a discus attempt yet this season.