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Bucs, Buffs showing improvement

Jeff Birchfield • Jan 15, 2016 at 6:37 PM

East Tennessee State University and Milligan College had goals beyond winning Friday at the ETSU Invitational track and field meet at the Mini-Dome.

For the host Bucs, it was good to see some athletes win their heat races. Vicki Franse was fastest in her 200-meter heat at 26.32 seconds, a race which her teammate Marabeth Clark finished third at 27.10. Patrick Taylor won his heat races in the men’s 60 and 200 competitions. Freshman Kyra Adkins won the second heat in the women’s 60 hurdles with a time of nine seconds even, and later won her 60-meter dash heat.

Senior Keturah Williams paced the women’s 400 with a time of 59.37 seconds.

“I think the level of competition is good for us where we have a chance to do well in our races,” ETSU coach George Watts said. “It’s good when someone can make it to the final or win their heat. We’re still banged up with some people being hurt, but overall we’ve done well.”

Watts liked the improvement which some of his runners and jumpers showed. It included those with the winning efforts and some who didn’t win.

Michael Williams qualified for the men’s 60 hurdles final with a 8.41 time. Freshman Tyler Houston didn’t qualify, but his time of 8.58 was good enough to win his heat.

“Our hurdlers ran well today,” Watts said. “Kyra Adkins opened up today and it was her first meet so she was really nervous. But, she’s really good and she’s going to improve a lot over time. Our guys ran well and the triple jumpers did well too.”

Those men’s triple jumpers included freshmen Yohana Koko who went 44 feet, 6 inches and Mikel Halim who landed at 43-7.

Other strong efforts included that of freshman Kiana Davis, who finished second in her 60-meter dash, but with a time of 7.83 qualified for the finals. Sophomore Nicki Smith finished sixth in the women’s 800 university/college race, while in the field events, Tyesha Jones finished third in the weight throw at 47-1 3/4.

One of the early favorites was ETSU’s Brett Squibbs in the men’s pole vault, but for a second straight week he struggled in the Bucs’ home meet. Watts said there was nothing to worry about, he’s just trying to get everything figured out with a new pole he’s using.

Freshman Ben McCay didn’t have much trouble, clearing 14-1 to finish fourth in the event.

For Milligan College head coach Chris Layne, it was important for his athletes not only to compete against others, but to try to better themselves.

Among those he mentioned were former Happy Valley standout Hunter Buchanan in the men’s 60 meter dash, former Science Hill standout Jessica Norris in the women’s triple jump and Victoria Nelson in the weight throw.

“Victoria Nelson, she was 16th today,” Layne said. “But when you look at her mark, you’re excited. Hunter Buchanan, he had a p.r. in his race. Jessica Norris opened up with a top 15 in the triple jump. We’re seeing the kids work hard and gain some individual victories.”

Day two of the meet starts this morning at 8 a.m. with the women’s and men’s 3,000 races.

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