Last updated 7/14/13



Spartans Set for Weekend Stint in the Queen City
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April 11, 2013

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – With just two meets left until the Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Championships, the USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams seek to improve their marks this weekend as they travel to Charlotte, N.C., for the Johnson C. Smith Invitational hosted by Johnson C. Smith University at the Irwin Belk Complex.

On the men's side, senior Cameron Thomas and junior Matt Johnson return to action this weekend in the 800-meter. Cameron Thomas leads the A-Sun in the event this season with an Upstate record time of 1:50.86, while Matt Johnson is second in the league with a time of 1:51.68. Matt Johnson is also slated to compete in the 400-meter alongside freshman Tracy Fisher. Matt Johnson paces the team in the event this season with a time of 48.88, while Fisher is second on the squad with a time of 50.99.

Upstate senior Christian Ritacco is entered in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase. He recorded a time of 9:44.65 in the event last weekend at the Duke Invite.


Spartans Record Strong Marks at Duke Invite and Terrier Relays
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April 6, 2013

DURHAM, N.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams continued to show consistent improvement in individual mark Saturday as the Spartans closed out the Duke Invitational, while other Spartans competed at Wofford's Terrier Relays...

"Overall this weekend, we saw progression across the men's and women's teams alike," said Upstate Head Coach Natalie Smith. "Our distance crew was the most consistent across the entire team and they are really running consistently competitive times and that's to be commended because truthfully that is one of the key things that we look to see each week. Each week we are anxious to see how the team will compete and with only two meets left before the conference championships, we are hoping to make some movies in the league rankings over the next two weeks..."

"Our steeplechasers, including senior Christian Ritacco, looked good this weekend as well," Smith said. "This was Christian's first race back in the steeple in almost a year, so I was glad to see the senior laying it on the line to shape up before the conference meet after missing all of the indoor season."

Sarah Thomas recorded a season-best leap of 5.05-meters (16-07.00) in the women's long jump to finish 10th in the event, while sophomore Shawanda Stokes came in 12th with a jump of 5.00-meters (16-05.00). In the women's high jump, Walls cleared 1.53-meters (5-00.25).

Back in Spartanburg, freshman Taylor Crans recorded a season-best time of 1:03.84 in the women's 400-meter at Wofford's Terrier Relays. Freshman Simmie Bray crossed the 100-meter dash finish line in 13.10, while junior Meagan Bailey turned in a time of 18.79 in the 100-meter hurdles...


Spartans Seek Strong Marks at Duke Invite and Terrier Relays
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April 4, 2013

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams are set to travel to Durham, N.C., this weekend for the Duke Invitational, while the Spartan throwers will stay in town to compete in the Terrier Relays Saturday.

Reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Track Athlete of the week Gilbert Kemboi is slated to return to action this weekend at the Duke Invite in the men's 10,000-mter run. Last weekend at the Raleigh Relays he turned in a school record performance, crossing the finish line third with a time of 29:22.96, breaking his previous program record time of 29:51.99. Kemboi currently leads the A-Sun in the 10,000-meter and ranks 17th nationally in the event...

Senior Cameron Thomas and junior Matt Johnson are set to compete in the 800-meter at the Duke Invite. Both Thomas and Johnson have steadily improved their times in event in each meet this season. Last weekend, Thomas posted a school record time of 1:50.86 to break the program record time of 1:51.31 he set at the Catamount Classic. He leads the A-Sun in the event and ranks 14th in the NCAA East qualifying list. Johnson is second in the A-Sun in the 800-meter after recording a personal-best time of 1:51.68...

On the men's distance side, Kemboi will be joined in the 10K by junior Ross Oden and sophomore Riley Doherty. Last week at the Raleigh Relays, Oden turned in a season-best time of 31:33.80, while Doherty clocked in at 33:21.29. Juniors Andrew Kipchumba and Joey Daversa are slated to compete in the 5,000-meter. Both posted season-best marks in the 5K last weekend as Kipchumba came in at 15:43.44 and Daversa at 17:03.07. Daversa is also entered in the 1,500-meter alongside junior Mark Rennix and senior Christian Ritacco. Rennix recorded a season-best time in the event at the Raleigh Relays, crossing the line in 4:11.37...


Spartans Repeat A-Sun Team Championship; Kemboi Three-Peats
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October 27, 2012

FORT MYERS, Fla. – USC Upstate men's cross country team defended its Atlantic Sun Conference Championship crown Saturday as Gilbert Kemboi won his third-straight individual title at the 2012 A-Sun Championships hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University.

The Spartans bring home their second-straight A-Sun team trophy, edging ETSU Saturday by only four points. With five runners in the top 20, Upstate beat the Buccaneers 49 points to 53 points, while Kennesaw State took third-place with 85 points.

"Our guys followed the race plan pretty well," said Upstate Associate Head Coach Carson Blackwelder. "Ross (Oden) and Christian (Ritacco) moved up really well in the last mile and half and put us in a position to win. It really came down to our fourth and fifth runners, just out-kicking people in the end. Our goal was to have four athletes make All-Conference and they achieved that..."

The Spartans landed four athletes on the All-Atlantic Sun First and Second Teams. Kemboi was named the 2012 A-Sun Runner of the Year and collected First Team All-Conference honors, while senior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.), senior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) and junior Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) were All-A-Sun Second Team selections. Upstate Associate Head Coach Carson Blackwelder picked-up his second-straight A-Sun Coach of the Year honor.

"It's a great honor, but I don't really do the running; the guys do the running," Blackwelder said. "I give all the credit to them. Being Coach of the Year is really just a product of them winning."

Thomas kept Dennison in his sight during most of the race, but closed the gap towards the end as the two worked together to finish strong with Dennison earning eighth-place and Thomas in ninth. The senior duo finish with personal-best times as Dennison crossed the line in 25:05.40 and Thomas in 25:07.10. Oden came across the line shortly after, taking 12th-place with a personal-record time of 25:25.80.

Upstate senior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) sneaked into the top 20 for the Spartans, coming in 19th with a season-best mark of 25:55.70. Sophomore Mark Rennix (Beaufort, S.C.) was the sixth finisher for Upstate, taking 34th-place with a career-best time of 26:27.70...

Upstate returns to action Nov. 9, traveling to Charlotte, N.C., for the NCAA Southeast Regionals.

Spartans Chase Hardware at A-Sun Cross Country Championships
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October 26, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams are set to compete at the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Championships as the Spartan men look to defend their team title and senior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Keyna) races for a three-peat Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla., hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University.

The 2012 A-Sun Championships will be held at FGCU's Buckingham Cross Country Course. The women's 5K race is scheduled to begin at 8:45 a.m., followed by the men's 8K at 9:30 a.m.

The Upstate men's team picked-up the program's first A-Sun team championship last season at the conference meet in Nashville, Tenn. With seven of the nine members of the championship squad back to compete, the 2012 Spartans look to bring home their second-straight A-Sun team trophy.

"The men's team has been looking forward to this race all season," said Upstate associate head coach Carson Blackwelder, the 2011 A-Sun Coach of the Year. "They are ready to compete and do everything they can to defend their title."

Kemboi has won two-straight individual Atlantic Sun Championships, claiming last year's title with a time of 24:27.01 and being named the A-Sun Runner of the Year. He was joined on the All-Conference Team by fell Spartans Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) and Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.). Dennison earned All-Atlantic Sun First Team honors, crossing the finish line sixth with a time of 25:18.35, while Ritacco was a second team selection, coming in 10th-place with a time of 25:41.64...

Kemboi is looking to become the third athlete in conference history to win three A-Sun individual cross country championship titles and the only one from the current member institutions as Michael Green (1998-200) from Troy and Andrew Letherby (1994, 1996-97) from Georgia State comprise the three-peat list. Kemboi also holds the second and third fastest times in A-Sun history (24:00.81 in 2010 and 24:27.01 in 2011). His fastest time this season came at the Paul Short Invitational Sept. 28, crossing the line in 23:59.

The Spartan men remain strong throughout their roster as Dennison has proved to be a solid performer for Upstate during his senior campaign, posting his best time of the year at the Paul Short Invite with a time of 25:51. Junior Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) has stepped up for the Spartan men this season, being the third Upstate finisher in three of four meets this season. Senior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) has also been a strong performer for the Spartans, finishing as one of the team's top five runners in every meet this season. Oden clocked in with a season-best mark of 26:11 at the Paul Short Invite, but was edged by Thomas with a season-best time of 26:06...

This race will also help develop some of our freshmen by giving them experience at the conference championship level," Blackwelder said.

Official results for the 2012 A-Sun Cross Country Championships will be available at UpstateSpartans.com and at AtlanticSun.org following the conclusion of both the women's 5K and the men's 8K races.


Spartan Men and Women Win Upstate Invitational
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October 13, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams hosted the Upstate Invitational at Milliken Research Park Saturday, placing first in both the men's and women's team standings.

The Spartan men took top honors with 15 points in the men's 8K as senior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) crossed the line first with a time of 25:32 followed by senior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) at 26:06. In the women's 5K, Upstate won with 18 points as sophomore Jasmine Polite (Goose Creek, S.C.) came in first-place with a personal-best time of 19:06.25. Freshman Anastasia Kolesnitchenko (Boiling Springs, S.C.) was the second Spartan finisher, but came in fourth overall with a time of 20:03.55 as second and third places went to unattached runners.

"It was a small meet, but a good one," said Upstate Associate Head Coach Carson Blackwelder. "We really just worked on packing up and running as a group on both the men's and women's sides. They did a good job of going out there and running hard and working with each other."

Presbyterian came in second-place in the men's 8K with 56 points, while Piedmont took third with 78 points. Erskine finished fourth in the team standings with 91 points. On the women's side, Erskine claimed second with 50 points, while Presbyterian took third with 79 points. Piedmont came in fourth with 104 points.

On the men's side, the Spartans claimed the top 10 positions. Junior Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) came in third-place with a time of 26:23.46, while senior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) finished fourth with a time of 26:27.44. Senior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) took the No. 5 spot, crossing the line in 26:35.30, while junior Andrew Kipchuma (Eldoret, Kenya) was sixth with a time of 26:56.15. Upstate sophomore Mark Rennix (Beaufort, S.C.) came in seventh and junior Joey Daversa (Chesapeake, Va.) was eighth with times of 27:08.54 and 27:18.07, respectively. Senior Dylan Taylor (Woodruff, S.C.) took ninth with a time of 28:09.93, while junior Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) closed out the top 10 with a time of 29:25.35...

Spartan Cross Country Set to Host Upstate Invitational
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October 12, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams return home Saturday, hosting the Upstate Invitational at Milliken Research Park.

The women's 5k race is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. with the men's 8K beginning at 10:45 a.m. This meet will be smaller than the Spartans' last outing at the Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh Sept. 28. The Upstate Invite will feature four teams including the Spartans, Piedmont, Erskine and cross-town Wofford. The meet will serve as a final tune-up for Upstate before heading to the 2012 Atlantic Sun Conference Championships Oct. 27 in Fort Myers, Fla...

The Spartans have continued to improve their individual times in each meet this season. Six Upstate men registered season-best times Sept. 28, including Kemboi, who has recorded the best time in the A-Sun this year. Senior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) posted a time of 25:51, while classmate Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) finished in 26:06. Upstate junior Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) crossed the line with a time of 26:11, while junior Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya) and senior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) recorded times of 26:30 and 26:44, respectively.

In the women's 6K race, 40 teams and 360 athletes competed in the Paul Short Invite. The Spartan women were paced by sophomore Jasmine Polite (Goose Creek, S.C.), posting a personal-best time in the 6K of 22:54, beating her previous mark of 23:23.90. Senior Hannah Chaney (Brunswick, Ohio) was the second Upstate finisher, crossing the line in 23:59, while freshman Anastasia Kolesnitchenko (Boiling Springs, S.C.) followed with a time of 24:13. Sophomore Erin Gethin (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) also recorded an individual-record in the 6K with a time of 24:44, surpassing her pervious time of 25:47.35...


Kemboi Places Second at Paul Short Invitational
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September 28, 2012

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams turned in strong times against stiff competition Friday at the Paul Short Invitational hosted by Lehigh as senior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) claimed an impressive second-place finish in the men's 8K.

Both Spartan teams competed in the Gold race, which was the fastest of the three college race categories at the Paul Short Invite. In the men's 8K, the top three finishers were separated by a total of three seconds. Mark Dennin of No. 15 Georgetown took top honors with a time of 23:57, followed by Kemboi two seconds later, clocking in at 23:59. Kemboi edged Duquesne's Jim Spisak, who crossed the line third in 24:00.

"Gilbert did a really good job getting second-place today," said Upstate associate head coach Carson Blackwelder. "With 400-meters to go, it was a really tight race between the top three."

In the 37 team field there were 332 runners, who participated in Lehigh's Paul Short Invitational men's 8K race. Among the squads were three nationally ranked teams, including the 15th-ranked Hoyas. The No. 22 Villanova Wildcats and members of the No. 17 Princeton club also competed Friday.

The Spartans have continued to improve their individual times in each meet this season. Six Upstate men registered season-best times Friday, including Kemboi, who has recorded the best time in the Atlantic Sun Conference this year. Senior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) posted a time of 25:51, while classmate Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) finished in 26:06. Upstate junior Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) crossed the line with a time of 26:11, while junior Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya) and senior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) recorded times of 26:30 and 26:44, respectively.

"We got 25th overall for the men's team, which is about what I was expecting," Blackwelder said. "Our times are gradually getting faster, so I'm pleased. It rained a lot overnight so it was a muddy and sloppy course. Plus, it was a really big field and that is a major factor in how a race plays out..."

Spartan Cross Country Opens Season with Eye Opener Invitational
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August 30, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams open the 2012 campaign Friday, hosting the annual Eye Opener Invitational at Milliken Research Park.

The college edition of the Eye Opener is Friday with the women's 5k starting at 6:30 p.m. and the men's 8k at 7 p.m. The high school portion of the event takes place Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m.

This will be the 29th running of the Eye Opener, which is one of the largest high school and college cross country meets in the state. There are 480 entries in this year's race, making it the second largest college Eye Opener field in the event's history.

There are 26 women's team participating Friday night and 24 men's teams including tough competition from Davidson and Furman. The Davidson men's team is currently ranked 11th in the Southeast Region, a traditionally difficult cross country region. The Furman men's team posted a third-place finish last season at the Eye Opener and also finished third at the Southern Conference Championships...

After claiming the program's first Atlantic Sun Championship team crown last season, the Spartan men are ready to return to the trails and improve on last year's marks. Upstate returns eight of its top nine finishers from the championship winning squad, including A-Sun All-Conference selections Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya), Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) and Christian Ritacco ( Niceville, Fla.).

At the 2011 Eye Opener, the Upstate men finished fourth in the team standings, while Kemboi posted a first-place finish with at time of 24:52. Andrew Kimpchumba (Eldoret, Kenya) came in 14th with a time of 26:40, while Ritacco took 16th with a time of 26:45.

The Upstate women finished fifth at last year's Eye Opener and fourth at the A-Sun Championship. After graduating the top three finishers at the conference meet, the Spartans reloaded, adding seven newcomers to the 2012 squad, including two South Carolina products.

Spartan Track & Field Claims Four Titles at Day One of A-Sun Championship
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April 20, 2012

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – At the end of first day at the Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the USC Upstate men's team ranks third with 42 points, while the women are sixth with 20 points as the Spartans grabbed a combined four individual crowns.

The Spartan men were led today by a trio of individual titles as junior Kenny Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) claimed two and classmate Gilbert Kemboi (Eloret, Kenya) won one, while senior Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) snagged gold for the women's squad.

Sugishita started the day with a school record performance in the shot put with a winning throw of 16.47-meters (54-00.50). He followed that with a first-place toss of 56.67-meters (185-11) in the hammer throw. The junior returns to action tomorrow in the discus throw, seeking his third title of the weekend.

Kemboi and Sang both took first-place in the men's and women's 10,000-meter, respectively tonight. Kemboi posted an A-Sun meet record in the event with a time of 30.16.81, beating the previous record set in 2010 by about 14 seconds. On the women's side, Sang crossed the line in 35:44.15, picking up 10 points for the Spartans. Both Kemboi and Sang will seek additional championships tomorrow in the men's and women's 5,000-meter races...

Junior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) posted two points for the Spartan men, grabbing seventh in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He crossed the line in 9:48.42, while classmate Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.) put himself in position to score points tomorrow in the men's 110-meter hurdle finals. In tonight's prelims, Curry turned in a qualifying time of 15.03.

Upstate Track & Field Hurdles after Hardware at A-Sun Championships This Weekend
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April 19, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams head to the Sunshine State this weekend for the Atlantic Sun Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships April 20-21 hosted by North Florida.

The Spartan men seek a top-three team finish, returning the A-Sun Most Outstanding Indoor Track Performer and the A-Sun Most Outstanding Indoor Field Performer in juniors Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) and Kenny Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.), respectively. The junior duo each won two individual titles at the conference indoor meet in February. Kemboi currently ranks first in the league in the outdoor season with his school record performance in the 5,000-meter at the Duke Invitational April 6 with a time of 14:16.66. He also leads the A-Sun in the 10,000-meter with an Upstate record time of 29:51.99 set at N.C. State's Raleigh Relays March 29...

"We are really excited about this weekend's meet," said Upstate head coach Natalie Smith. "We believe that we have the student athletes ready to compete at their best. Looking at this weekend's events, there are going to be some really close races and some great competition in the field events..."

Also in action this week for the Spartan men are juniors Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.), Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) and Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.). Ritacco and Dennison set records in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and the 1,500-meter, respectively. Ritacco ranks fourth in the A-Sun in the steeplechase, registering a time of 9:36.17 April 6 at the Duke Invitational. Dennison is sixth in the conference, posting a time of 3:57.12 in the 1,500-meter at the Duke Invite. Curry recorded a time of 14.70 in the 110-meter hurdles at the Winthrop Invite March 29, coming in third in the league rankings.

"We are looking to add to our list of individual conference champions and hoping that we can have a couple of our athletes win more than one event," Smith said. "We have been extremely proud of the consistency and progression of our student-athletes this season. It has been a really fun season and we are hoping that this weekend will be the best meet we have had. The Univeristy of North Florida has a great facility so there should be a great atmosphere for success there. We are looking to see lots of green and black in the top three spots of events."

Upstate Track & Field Posts Strong Performances Across Southeast
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April 7, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams recorded solid performances in three meets this weekend, highlighted by school records in the women's 3,000-meter steeplechase, the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase and the men's 4x800-meter relay.

At the Duke Invitational, senior Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) registered a program-best time of 11:22.64 in the women's 3K steeplechase, earning seventh-place. She broke her previous event record of 11:25.67 set at the Catamount Classic March 24.

In the men's 3K steeplechase, junior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) also broke his own Upstate record with a time of 9:36.17, claiming ninth-place in Durham, N.C. His previous school-best mark was 9:49.05, which he set at Auburn in 2011.

The Spartan men's 4x800-meter relay team of freshman Evan Woodruff (Sebastian, Fla.), sophomore Joey Daversa (Chesapeake, Va.), junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) and sophomore Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) took second-place at the Duke Invite. The Upstate foursome recorded a time of 7:41.34, beating the prior school record of 7:43.38 set in 2011...


Spartans Sprint to Two Track & Field Meets This Weekend
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April 5, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams are scheduled to participate in two meets this weekend as members of each team head to the Duke Invitational April 6-7, while others compete at Wofford's Terrier Relays April 7.

The reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Men's Track Athlete of the Week, Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya), returns to action this weekend. The junior will compete in the men's 5,000-meter run at the Duke Invite. Last week, he took top honors in the men's 10,000-meter at the Raleigh Relays with a school record time of 29:51.99, ranking first in the A-Sun and fourth nationally.

Also at the Raleigh Relays last week, junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) posted an Upstate record in the men's 1,500-meter with a time of 3:57.12, while classmate Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) posted a time of 9:52.86 in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase. Both athletes will compete in the same respective events in Durham, N.C., this weekend.

At the Winthrop Invitational last week, junior Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.) posted a time of 14.70 in the men's 110-meter hurdles finals, while sophomore Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) won the men's 800-meter, crossing the line in 1:53.78. Johnson was closely followed by junior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) in the 800-meter, finishing second with a time of 1:54.44. This weekend, Curry is scheduled to compete in the men's 100-meter and 110-meter hurdles, while Johnson will run in the 400-meter and 200-meter. Thomas will return to action in the men's 800-meter at the Duke Invite...

Upstate Track & Field Teams Post Five School Records
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March 30, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field teams registered school-best performances today at the North Carolina State's Raleigh Relays in Raleigh, N.C., and at the Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C.

Upstate junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) took top honors in the men's 10,000-meter at the Raleigh Relays today with a school record time of 29:51.99, while senior Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) recorded a program-best time of 35:06.57 in the women's 10,000-meter for second-place. Junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) also posted an Upstate record in Raleigh, crossing the men's 1,500-meter line in 3:57.12.

Seniors Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) and Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) recorded strong times in the women's 5,000-meter at the Raleigh Relays. Tangwar had a personal-best time of 17:20.06, while Chelulei crossed the line in 17:48.66. Junior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) also registered a strong time for the Spartans today, posting a time of 9:52.86 in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase.

Spartan records continued to fall today at the Winthrop Invitational as junior Kenny Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) broke two school records. He has registered school record performances in every meet since the outdoor season started three weeks ago. The junior earned first-place in the shot put with a throw of 15.65-meters (51-04.25), beating his previous mark of 15.08-meters (49-05.75) set March 17 at the 49er Classic. Sugishita came in third in the hammer throw today with a toss of 55.75-meters (182-11), passing his school record of 55.05-meters (180-07) set last week at the Catamount Classic.

Sophomore Isaiah Lyles (Inman, S.C.) also turned in strong performances at the Winthrop Invite for the Upstate men. He came in fourth-place in the shot put with a throw of 14.82-meters (48-07.50). Lyles earned 11th in the hammer throw with a mark of 38.20-meters (125-04)...

Spartan Track & Field Set for Two-Meet Weekend
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March 29, 2012

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track and field teams are scheduled to participate in two meets this weekend as six individuals will compete at North Carolina State's Raleigh Relays March 30, while everyone heads to the Winthrop Invitational March 30-31.

The senior trio of Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya), Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya) and Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) will represent the Spartan women at the Raleigh Relays tomorrow. Tangwar and Chelulei are set to run the women's 5,000-meter, while Sang will tackle the 10,000-meter. Last week at the Catamount Classic, Chelulei set a school record in the women's 3K steeplechase with a winning time of 11:25.67.

In Raleigh, N.C., the Spartan men will be represented by the junior trifecta of Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.), Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) and Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.). Ritacco is scheduled to participate in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. He set a school record in the even last year at Auburn with a time of 9:49.05. Kemboi will take on the men's 10,000-meter this weekend, while Dennison will run the 1,500-meter...


Upstate Track & Field Sets Two School Records at Final Day of Tiger Paw Invite
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February 11, 2012

CLEMSON, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track and field teams closed out the Tiger Paw Invitational today, setting two school records en route to strong finishes.

Program records fell today on both the men's and women's sides. Junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) posed a school-best time of 8:20.36 in the men's 3,000-meter, passing his previous record of 8.23.37 set at the Atlantic Sun Indoor Championships in 2010. The Spartan quartet of senior Carolyne Chelulei (Eldoret, Kenya), sophomore Ashley Edmond (Hopkins, S.C.), senior Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) and senior Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) set a school record in the women's distance medley relay with a first-place time of 12:08.59, shaving nearly 1:26 off of the school record. The previous school-best was 13:34.16 set at the conference championships in 2010.

Upstate junior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) also competed in the men's 3,000-meter along with freshman Kenneth Human (Campobello, S.C.). Ritacco came in ninth with a time of 9:11.17, while Human crossed the line 14th with a time of 9:23.78. Sophomore Matt Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) posted a top-five finish for the Spartans in the men's 400-meter dash. He snagged fourth-place, clocking in at 50.01.

In the men's 800-meter, freshman Evan Woodruff (Sebastian, Fla.) recorded a time of 2:00.01 for the Spartans, taking 19th. Sophomores Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) and Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya) also participated in the 800-meter, posting times of 2:00.57 and 2:01.15, respectively. Upstate junior Kenneth Sugishita (Arroyo Grande, Calif.) earned seventh-place in the men's shot put with a distance of 15.53-meters.

On the women's side, junior Laura Transue (Anderson, S.C.) recorded a time of 11:19.15 in the 3,000-meter, coming in 26th. In the women's 800-meter, freshman Jasmine Polite (Goose Creek, S.C.) crossed the line 22nd with a time of 2:25.34. Freshman Breana Kwasnik (Greenville, S.C.) came in ninth in the women's pole vault for the Spartans with a mark of 3.31-meters.

Spartan Women Finish 17th at NCAA Cross Country Regionals, Men Finish 22nd
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November 12, 2011

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams posted strong finishes at the NCAA Southeast Region Championships hosted by Louisville today as the Spartan women took home an impressive 17th-place finish, while the Spartan men were a solid 22nd in the team standings.

Upstate tallied 468 points in the women's 6K for a strong 17th-place finish as the team was led by the senior duo of Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) and Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya). Tangwar came in 15th and Sang claimed 16th with times of 20:45.7 and 20:46.9, respectively. The pair earned Southeast All-Region honors.

In the men's 10K, the Spartans collected 590 points for a 22nd-place team finish.

"The men had a great meet," Blackwelder said. "Finishing 22nd in the Southeast Region is a solid performance. It is a strong region and a great performance for Upstate's first-ever post season competition."

Junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) led the squad, crossing the line in 30:21.6 to snag an 11th-place finish. He picked up All-Region accolades for his performance.

Junior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) was the second-top finisher for the Spartan men today with a time of 32:58.5 to take the 117th slot. He was followed by sophomore Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.), who came in 220th-place with a time of 33.37.4.

"I'm really proud of how our guys handled the pressure and the 10k distance," Blackwelder said. "Cameron Thomas stepped up and ran a great race to be our number-two man on the team."

Junior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) came in 156th-place with a time of 33:57.3, while classmate Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) crossed the line in 34:15.4 for the 162nd spot. Senior James Jackson (Aiken, S.C.) posted a 165th-place finish and sophomore Joey Daversa (Chesapeake, Va.) claimed 195th with times of 34:26.4 and 35.39.7, respectively.

"This meet was a great building block for our program," Blackwelder said. "With six of our top seven returning for next year, we have a great bright future."


Northwest Florida Daily News
11/6/11 Page C3
     
Ex-Niceville runners part of Atlantic Sun title
By TRAVIS DOWNEY
Northwest Florida Daily News
315-4476 | tdowney@nwfdailynews.com
     Former Niceville standouts Christian Ritacco and Cameron Thomas are used to winning. They each did so with regularity while at Niceville, which helped both of them land coveted cross country scholarships at Division-I South Carolina-Upstate following their high school careers.
     But even given all that firsthand experience, the duo’s latest feat came, quite honestly, as “a shock.”
     Ritacco and Thomas, now juniors at USC-Upstate, turned in stellar runs during last weekend’s Atlantic Sun Conference Cross Country Champion-ships, helping the Spartans captured their first-ever conference title.
     It was a feat that caught seemingly everyone by surprise.
     “It came of out left field, really,” Thomas said. “… none of the other coaches really expected it out of us.”
     Thomas finished 17th on the day with a time of 25:57.73, a personal record for the junior. Ritacco, the Daily News’ Runner of the Year in 2008, led the way, finished 10th overall in a time of 25:41.64.
     “I really haven’t had a run all year long that I haven’t been happy with,” Ritacco said.
     Prior to this season, each had already etched their names in the program’s record books.
     Thomas’ 26:11.62 turned in at the 2010 Upstate Invitational currently ranks ranks 13th all-time in school history, while Ritacco’s 25:50.59 at the 2010 conference championships is the fourth-best time by a men’s runner at USC-Upstate.
     Both pointed to the team’s strong showing at the Clemson Invite earlier this season as a possible turning point. It was there that the Spartans finished eighth in a field loaded with the proverbial “big boys” of the Atlantic Coast Conference and Southeastern Conference. Ritacco turned in a season-best time of 25:33.55, a time that currently stands as the third-fastest in school history. Thomas ran a 26:07.44, helping the Spartans to its top 10 finish.
The following week, USCUpstate finished sixth at the UNCC invite before winning its own Upstate Invite. In that race, Ritacco finished fourth (26:55).
     Now, the former Niceville teammates will help lead USC-Upstate into next week’s NCAA Southeastern Regional in Louisville, Ky.
     Said Ritacco of the Spartans’ first NCAA regional appearance, “It’s goingto be a great experience.”

   Follow Travis Downey on Twitter at
@TravisNWFDN
USC-Upstate media relations
Cameron Thomas finished 17th in the Atlantic Sun meet.


Spartans Snag Pair of Individual Titles and Men’s Team Crown at A-Sun Cross Country Championships
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October 29, 2011

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams put on a great show in Music City this morning for the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Cross Country Championships as the men's team took home the team crown and the Spartans collected individual titles in both the men's and women's races courtesy of junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) and Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya). The event was hosted by Belmont at Percy Warner Park on the Vaughn's Gap Course.

This marks the first Atlantic Sun team title for Upstate as the men's team posted a score of 69 to defeat two-time defending champions, Kennesaw State. Kemboi crossed the finish line first in a time of 24:27.01, the fourth-fastest time in A-Sun history, to win his second-straight individual title. The junior became the sixth A-Sun student-athlete to win back-to-back individual meet titles.

"We're thrilled to bring home a team championship and I'm very proud of our guys," said associate head coach Carson Blackwelder. "We've finished third the last two years, so we knew we could do well, but we had few guys that when it was time to step up, they did."

The Spartan men had three individuals post top-10 finishes as junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) came in sixth with a time of 25:18.35 and classmate Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) crossed the line in 10th with a time of 25:41.64. Junior Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) snagged a clutch 17th-place finish for Upstate with a time of 25:57.73. Kemboi and Dennison earned first team all-conference marks, while Ritacco was a second team all-conference selection. Kemboi was named the A-Sun men's Runner of the Year, while Blackwelder was chosen as the A-Sun Coach of the Year.

The Spartan men claimed the championship crown with a total of 69 points, edging Kennesaw State (79 points) by 10 points. Championship host Belmont came in third-place with 84 points.


Spartan Cross Country Teams Seek Individual Titles and Strong Team Finishes at A-Sun Championship
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October 28, 2011

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams head to Nashville, Tenn., for the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference Cross Country Championships Saturday, Oct. 29, hosted by Belmont at Percy Warner Park on the Vaughn's Gap Course.

This will be the fifth meet of the 2011 season for the Spartan cross country teams with the men's race set for 10 a.m. CT and the women's at 10:45 a.m. CT In four meets, the women's team claimed four individual wins with senior Joan Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) picking up three wins and classmate Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya) earning one race victory, while the men's team has collected two individual wins courtesy of junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya).

As the Atlantic Sun defending champion, Kemboi looks to become the sixth A-Sun student-athlete to win back-to-back individual meet titles this weekend. His time of 24:00 at the 2010 Championship was the third-fastest in conference history. The Spartan men have finished third in the A-Sun meet the last two years and return two all-conference selections from last year in Kemboi and junior Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) and an all-freshman team member in sophomore Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Kenya).

"This is the best men's team Upstate has ever had," said Upstate's associate head coach Carson Blackwelder. "We have nine guys that will contribute and hopefully bring us a top-two finish. The men's team feels it has something to prove to the A-Sun and to Upstate."

This season, Kemboi has won two races and finished second in one. He posted the second fastest-time in the conference this season with a 24:14 mark en route to a second-place finish at the Charlotte Invitational Sept. 30. As a team the Upstate men finished sixth out of 34 strong teams at the Charlotte meet. Junior Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) recorded the second-best time for the Spartans this season with a time of 25:33.55, while sophomore Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) posted the third-fastest time of 25:55.90.

The Kennesaw State men look for their third-straight A-Sun Championship team title, while the North Florida women seek to defend their 2010 team crown. Full results, highlights and interviews will be posted on the Atlantic Sun website following the conclusion of both the men's and women's races.


Upstate Sweeps Upstate Invitational Races
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October 15, 2011

Spartanburg, S.C. - Led by a pair of dominant performances by Gilbert Kemboi and Joan Tangwar, the USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams swept the races at the Upstate Invitational Saturday morning at Milliken Research Park.

Upstate used the races as a tune-up for the A-Sun Championships in two weeks in Nashville, Tenn., and did so in strong fashion. Both teams had the top five runners that counted in the team scores in each race to give the Spartans 15 points to run away with the team titles. Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) dominated the field and covered the 8k distance in a time of 25:33 to win the race by 1:02 over Daniel Smoak, who ran unattached. Tangwar (Eldoret, Kenya) also turned in a dominant performance, finishing the 5k race in 17:32 to finish eight seconds ahead of teammate and second-place finisher Jemeli Sang (Eldoret, Kenya).

In the women's race, Tangwar set the tone for the Spartans with her race win as Upstate sprinted off the line and took control of the race...

Upstate claimed the team title with 15 points and was followed by Wofford (85), Carson-Newman (87), Darton (97), Presbyterian College (113), Piedmont (145), Newberry (167) and Claflin (220).

On the men's side, Kemboi was the star of the show. His time of of 25:33 was his slowest of the season, but it was more than enough to win the race by a large 1:02 margin. It was his second win of the season. The Spartans also swept the first five positions in times which counted for the team scores.

Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) ran his second-fastest time of the season in finishing second in team scoring and third overall with a time of 26:48. Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.) ran a time of 26:55 to finish third in the team scoring and fourth overall. Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) finished fourth in the team scoring and fifth overall with a time of 27:01. Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla.) was the fifth Spartan to finish, turning in a time of 27:12 to give the Spartans the top five finishers in the race.

Upstate claimed the championship with 15 points and was followed by Darton (49), Newberry (112), Piedmont (119), Presbyterian College (128), Carson-Newman (133) and Claflin (195)...


Cross Country Teams Set to Host Upstate Invitational
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October 14, 2011

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams are set to host the Upstate Invitational this weekend at Milliken Research Park.

This will be the fourth meet of the 2011 season for the Spartan cross country teams with the women's race set for 10 a.m. and men's at 10:45 a.m. The eight-team race will consist of men's and women's programs from Carson-Newman, Clafin, Darton, Newberry, Piedmont, Presbyterian and Wofford.

"This will be a good tune-up meet for us this Saturday as we prepare for the Atlantic Sun Championship meet Oct. 29," said Upstate's associate head coach Carson Blackwelder.

In the Spartans' last outing, senior Joan Tangwar won her second race of the season, posting a Spartan record with a time of 16:53.7 in the women's 5K at the Charlotte Invitational Sept. 30. She beat out 289 other competitors from ACC, SEC and regionally ranked teams. Tangwar was followed by fellow seniors Jemeli Sang in fifth-place and Caroline Chelulei in eighth with times of 17:13.5 and 17:30.2, respectively. Sang and Chelulei also set personal records at the Charlotte meet. The trio helped the women's squad to an 11th-place finish out of 36 six teams.

In the Charlotte Invitational men's 8K, junior Gilbert Kemboi earned a second-place finish with a time of 24:14.0, beating 256 other runners. Junior Christian Ritacco crossed the line in 26:01.9, coming in 63rd, while sophomore Ross Oden came in 68th with a time of 26:11.8. As a team the Spartan men finished sixth out of 34 teams.


Tangwar Sets Upstate Women’s Record, Men’s Team Earns Sixth-Place at Charlotte Invite
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September 30, 2011

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Senior Joan Tangwar of the USC Upstate women's cross country team took top honors tonight at the Charlotte Invitational, while the Upstate men's team finished sixth amongst tough competition.

Tangwar won her second race of the season, posting a Spartan record with a time of 16:53.7 in the women's 5K and beating 289 other competitors. She was followed by fellow seniors Jemeli Sang in fifth-place and Caroline Chelulei in eighth with times of 17:13.5 and 17:30.2, respectively. Sang and Chelulei also set personal records tonight. The trio helped the women's squad to an 11th-place finish out of 36 six teams.

"It was great to have three women finish in the top eight against such tough competition," said Upstate's interim-head cross country coach Carson Blackwelder. "I was glad to see the women's team be so aggressive today. We keep improving as a whole and the team is in great shape. We keep looking toward the conference meet; that's the goal."

In the men's 8K, junior Gilbert Kemboi earned a second-place finish with a time of 24:14.0, beating 257 other runners. Junior Christian Ritacco crossed the line in 26:01.9, coming in 63rd, while sophomore Ross Oden came in 68th with a time of 26:11.8. As a team the Spartan men finished sixth out of 34 teams.

"I'm very pleased with a sixth-place team finish here, running against really strong teams," Blackwelder said. "The men's team was consistent today and it's nice to see that our training is paying off."


Sang Claims Clemson Invitational Title in 6K
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September 17, 2011

CLEMSON, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams competed in the Clemson Invitational today as senior Jemeli Sang took top honors in the women's race.

Sang posted a school record in the women's 6K with a time of 20:42.88, followed by teammate and fellow senior Joan Tangwar in third with a time of 20:49.08. Caroline Chelulei took 30th, crossing the line in 21:55.32 as the senior trio helped the Spartans to a sixth-place finish out of 12 teams.

The Spartans competed against runners from Anderson, Chattahoochee Tech, Converse, Davidson, Erskine, Florida State, Furman, Georgia Tech, King College, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and host Clemson with the women running a 6K Friday, instead of the usual 5K.

"Jemeli had a great race, it was her first collegiate cross country victory," said Upstate's interim-head cross country coach Carson Blackwelder. "Joan and Jemeli followed the race plan by running near the front, being patient and then pushing the last couple miles. Overall it was good race for our team. This was their first race at the 6k distance, which we will see later this year at regionals."

In the men's 8K, junior Christian Ritacco was the top finisher for Upstate, coming in 52nd with a career-best time of 25:33.55. Sophomore Ross Oden claimed the 64th slot with a time of 25:55.90, while classmate Andrew Kipchumba registered a time of 26:02.70 for 66thplace. Ritacco, Oden and Kipchumba helped the Spartans to an eighth-place finish out of 12 teams.

"The race was exactly what we needed with the cool weather aiding us in some fast times," Blackwelder said. "Eleven of our 14 guys recorded personal records. It proves that our training is working and we are getting better each day."


Tangwar and Kemboi Beat Weather to Take Eye Opener Invitational
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September 15, 2011

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – No amount of stormy weather delays could slow down USC Upstate's Joan Tangwar and Gilbert Kemboi of the women's and men's cross country teams from winning tonight's annual running of the Eye Opener Invitational.

With the sun setting the Spartans raced the darkness as Tangwar took home top honors in the women's 5K, posting a school record and course record with a time of 17:06...

In order to get both the women's and men's races in tonight, the weather resulted in both the men and women running at the same time in order to avoid darkness. Kemboi, no stranger to finishing ahead of the pack, put up a time of 24:52 in the men's 8K.

"The Eye Opener used to be run in the morning, but today it was a little bit different and the weather made it a little unpredictable," Kemboi said. "Team-wise, as time goes by, I hope we get a little bit better and keep improving. It wasn't my best time, but I'm hoping that as the season goes on I'll be able to push through to the next level that I haven't been able to reach yet..."

On the men's side, sophomore Andrew Kipchumba took 14th with a time of 26:40, while junior Christian Ritacco claimed 16th, crossing the line in 26:40 to help Upstate to a fourth-place finish...

Upstate is back in action Sept. 16, traveling to the Clemson Invitational. Follow the Spartans this season on Facebook and Twitter.


The Polls Are Open: Vote Now for the Top Division I Moments
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July 1, 2011

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – In 2007-08, USC Upstate embarked on a new journey for its athletics program, transitioning its sports team from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I as members of the Atlantic Sun Conference. After four years of competing as a transitional member of Division I, Upstate is poised to receive full certification by the NCAA with all teams eligible for postseason play in NCAA and A-Sun championships.

Two Spartan programs, men’s soccer and softball, were eligible in their third season of D-I play after being selected as the institution’s fast-tracked sports. Men’s soccer fell just short of an A-Sun Tournament berth in 2009, while softball appeared in the conference tournament in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, the softball team came out of the loser’s bracket and advanced to the championship game before falling to Lipscomb. In 2011, Upstate was the number three seed and the host institution for the championship event.

“We are thrilled to have nearly completed the transitional process to full Division I membership,” said Mike Hall, Director of Athletics. “It has been difficult on our coaches, staff and most of all our student-athletes who did not have postseason opportunities. This will definitely aid in our recruiting of prospective student-athletes and generate more excitement for all of our fans that can now attend conference tournaments and, hopefully, NCAA Championships. Many people contributed to our move to D-I and we will always be thankful for the involvement of our administration, faculty/staff, student body, alumni, donors and sponsors.”


Upstate Set for 2011 A-Sun Outdoor Track & Field Championships
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April 15, 2011

Spartanburg, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's track & field team will look to build on its past success when it takes to the track in the 2011 A-Sun Outdoor Championships which start Friday at North Florida in Jacksonville.

The men's team finished sixth a year ago with Mike Meissner (Cottage Grove, Minn.) highlighting the way with his conference championship in the 400-meter dash. The Spartans are coming off of an impressive outing at the 2011 A-Sun Indoor Championships and have had successful outdoor meets over the last month. The women's team finished fifth at last year's outdoor championships and has had impressive results so far this season.

The men's team boasts four individuals who are returning conference champions, highlighted by two-time champion Perrish Goggins (Columbia, S.C.) Goggins, who redshirted last year, won conference championships in the high jump and long jump as a freshman in the 2009 A-Sun Outdoor Championships. He has had a strong spring and looks to be a contender in those events, as well as the triple jump, in this year's meet...

One event that has been a focus of the men's team is its performance in the 4x400-meter relay. The Spartans have traditionally not been strong in the event, but have made great strides this season. They finished second at the A-Sun Indoor Championships and have posted school records throughout the spring. The addition of brothers Matt and Michael Johnson (Elgin, S.C.) to the unit has bolstered the lineup which also includes Meissner and

Other Spartans to look for in the championships are runners Ben Wheeler (Spartanburg, S.C.; 110-meter hurdles), Brandon Curry (Anderson, S.C.; 110-meter hurdles) Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla.; 3,000-meter steeplechase) and Josh Powers (Spartanburg, S.C.; 400-meter hurdles). Eric Chapman (Cowpens, S.C.) should also prove to be a factor in the discus and hammer throw.


Spartans Commence Indoor Track And Field Season At Orange And Purple Winter Classic Saturday
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December 4, 2010

SPARTANBURG, S.C.—Head track and field coach Jimmy Stephens will begin his fourth season at USC Upstate, as he looks to elevate a young Spartans track and field program to even greater heights in 2010-11.

According to Stephens, for a program still in its infancy in just its fourth season of existence at Upstate, the biggest challenge for getting the program up and running has been establishing depth on both the men's and women's side.

"One of the biggest challenges in starting a program from the ground and building a foundation for success is being able to get the depth you need to compete with the Kennessaw State's and the East Tennessee State's of the Atlantic Sun," said Stephens.

"I really expect the women to see improvement in sprints and our relay teams...

The Spartans will commence the 2010-11 indoor season on Saturday, making the short trip to Clemson University to compete in the Orange and Purple Winter Classic. The Spartans will be one of several regional teams competing at the one-day meet, which will include a nationally-acclaimed Clemson track and field team that is steeped in tradition.

Upstate's strength on both the men's and women's side this season should once again its distance runners. On the men's side, junior Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya) and sophomores Cameron Thomas (Niceville, FL./Niceville HS) and Christian Ritacco (Niceville, FL.) will be the leaders among a strong core of runners in distance events.

As a freshman last season, Kemboi was sensational in his inaugural campaign as a Spartan, highlighted by his record-setting performance in the 5,000-meter run at the Niswonger Invitational...


Kemboi, Tangwar Win Upstate Invitational; Spartan Men & Women Second
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October 16, 2010

Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate cross country runners Gilbert Kemboi and Joan Tangwar each turned in standout performances en route to winning their respective races at the USC Upstate Invitational Saturday morning at the Milliken Research Park. Their efforts helped the men's and women's team take second place in the meet.

"We are doing well and are heading in the right direction with our performances," said Upstate assistant coach Carson Blackwelder. "Today was a pretty good day for us. Our top three runners on the men's side are pretty strong, we just need to have our four and five guys come together if we want to compete...

Despite Kemboi's dominant performance, Upstate finished second to North Florida. The Ospreys claimed positions 3-6 in the race to finish first. Upstate's Andrew Kipchumba (Eldoret, Rift Valley, Kenya) finished eighth in a time of 26:07.72, nearly 17 seconds better than he ran on the same course in the Eye Opener meet in September. Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa.) led a group of three Upstate runners who finished 11th, 12th and 13th. Dennison ran the race in 26:11.15. He was followed by Carmeron Thomas (Niceville, Fla., 26:11.52) and James Jackson (Aiken, S.C., 26:12.28).

Four Spartans who finished in the top 40 ran personal best times in the race Saturday. Thomas and Jackson each ran their fastest times in the 8k to finish in the top 15, while Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla., 26:52.62) knocked 18 seconds off of his top time to finish 25th. Ross Oden (Salisbury, N.C.) also ran a personal best with a time of 27:28.53.

Upstate will take to the Milliken course for the third time this year when it plays host to the 2010 A-Sun Championships in two weeks...


Men Tabbed Second, Women Third in Preseason Cross Country Polls
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August 18, 2010

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – The USC Upstate men's and women's cross country teams each were predicted to finish in the top three for the first time ever. The men's team was predicted to finish second, while the women's team earned a tie for third.

"To go from being a new team and finishing at the bottom of the conference in 2007, to being ranked as one of the top programs is very exciting," said head coach Jimmy Stephens. "Our staff and teams have put in a ton of work to get to this point. I am very excited for our program and the direction we are headed!"

At last season's Atlantic Sun Cross Country Championships, Gilbert Kemboi (Eldoret, Kenya/Kangetuny) and Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla./Niceville) led the Spartans to a tie for third-place. Kemboi finished second-overall at the championship event, earning First-Team All-A-Sun honors and Freshman of the Year accolades after earning a spot on the All-Freshman Team.

Ritacco, finished 15th-overall, also earned a spot on the All-Freshman Team. Both Kemboi and Ritacco are back for their sophomore campaigns and are joined by two other strong sophomore performers Davey Dennison (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle) and Cameron Thomas (Niceville, Fla./Niceville).


April 24, 2010

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - For the first time in history, the City of Spartanburg was host to its first ever invitational meet on Saturday. The USC Upstate track and field team hosted the USC Upstate Invitational, which was held at Spartanburg High School.

"Having a facility like this is at Spartanburg High is going to help the community host events like this again," said head coach Jimmy Stephens. "We had some really good teams come to the first invitational meet ever held in Spartanburg. From here we hope that the event will continue to grow and hopefully less rain in the future."

For most of the meet, the skies alternated between sunny and overcast, until the latter stages of the event. A steady rainstorm arrived and refused to let up as the final few events were run on Saturday.

Michael Meissner (Cottage Grove, Minn./UW-River Falls) and paced the Spartans at Saturday's meet. Meissner raced to victory in the men's 400-meter dash. His mark of 49.14 was both a personal-best as well as a new school record.

The junior also competed in the 200-meter dash, where he finished 11th with a time of 22.54. Also competing in the event were Spartans Reggie Garnett (Columbia, S.C./Robert G. Cole) and Dominic Simon (Sumter, S.C./Sumter). Garnett (23.84) finished 23rd and was immediately followed by Simon (23.86).

On the men's side, Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla./Niceville) led the way as he finished 8th-overall (4:10.74). James Jackson (Aiken, S.C./Aiken) recorded a time of 4:14.53 to finish 11th and Dylan Taylor (Woodruff, S.C./Woodruff) finished 12th with a time of 4:27.18.

Upstate will break from competition as they prepare for exams. The Spartans will return to the track when they compete at the Orange & Purple Classic in Clemson, S.C. on May 7th.


Spartans Shine at Furman Invitational
Eight different Spartans won events on Saturday.
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April 10, 2010

GREENVILLE, S.C. - The USC Upstate track and field team had several quality performances on Saturday afternoon at the Furman Invitational. This was the first meet of the outdoor season for the Spartans in the state of South Carolina and they did not disappoint.

"Today was a day that we really tried to focus on our sprinters as well as field performers," said head coach Jimmy Stephens. "Most of our distance guys had an easy day as most of them ran in just one event. We are beginning to enter crunch time as the conference championships are coming up in just about a month. I was really proud of the effort our team gave today and I am looking forward to our home meet that we are hosting on April 24th."

Michael Meissner (Cottage Grove, Minn./UW-River Falls) recorded a time of 50.26 as he won the 400-meter dash. Meissner also had a strong showing the 200-meter dash as he finished 2nd (22.63) and just missed out on another victory as Elias Conits finished in 22.62.

"Michael had a solid day," added Stephens. "He is training very hard and as he is working toward the Atlantic Sun championships, having days like this, is good for Michael as well as the entire team."

The Spartans recorded two top-10 marks in the men's 1,500-meter run. Christian Ritacco (Niceville, Fla./Niceville) recorded a time of 4:13.09 as he finished sixth. Dylan Taylor finished 10th after a time of 4:35.99.

The track and field team will return to action next weekend as they travel to Charlotte, N.C. for the second time this season. The Spartans will compete in the Charlotte Invitational on Saturday, April 17, 2010.