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ECU junior Kathryn Warner of Batava, Ill., an ECU pole vault and hurdles competitor, is pictured above in a pole vault event. The ECU track and field team will host a home track meet this weekend at ECU's Olympic Sports Complex, the first home track event since 2003. (Photos courtesy of Media Relations, ECU Athletics)
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'A CHANCE TO SHOW IT OFF'
ECU hosts first track meet at Olympic Sports Complex

April 9, 2014

By Steve Tuttle
ECU News Services


East Carolina University will host the first track event held at the new Olympic Sports Complex this weekend when athletes from ECU and three visiting schools gather to compete in the Bill Carson Invitational.

Track and field teams from the University of South Carolina, UNC Charlotte and UNC Wilmington with more than 300 athletes will compete in 35 events April 11 and 12.

Also on Saturday, the ECU football team will hold its annual Purple-Gold Game, starting at 2:30 p.m. in nearby Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Both events are free.
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More than 300 athletes will compete at the ECU facility this weekend.

Men’s and women’s hammer and discus throws will be held Friday afternoon. Most of the schedule occurs Saturday, with running, hurdles and relay events in the afternoon.

The Olympic Complex opened two years ago at a cost of $24 million.

In addition to the track facilities, the complex has softball and soccer stadiums and a field house with offices and locker rooms. Those facilities have seen regular use.

ECU’s former track facility, Harrington Track at Bunting Field, was bulldozed three years ago to make way for the Olympic Sports Complex. It was where the soccer stadium is now.

ECU last held a home track meet at Harrington Field in 2003.

“Aesthetically this facility is one of the nicest around and to finally get the chance to show it off, I couldn’t be more excited as a coach,” said track and field coach Curt Kraft.


Schedule

Note: multiple events will occur simultaneously

Friday
Noon

women’s hammer throw
men’s hammer throw
women’s discus throw
men’s discus throw

Saturday

Field events
11 a.m.
women’s pole vault
women’s long jump
men’s high jump
women’s shot put
men’s javelin throw

1:30 p.m.
men’s pole vault
women’s triple jump
men’s triple jump
men’s shot put
women’s javelin throw

Track events

11:30 a.m. women’s 300 m. steeple
11:45 a.m. men’s 300 m. steeple
12 noon women’s 4X100 m. relay
12:10 p.m. men’s 4X100 m. relay
12:25 p.m. women’s 1500 m. run
12:35 p.m. men’s 100 m. run
12:55 p.m. women’s 100 m. hurdles
1:15 p.m. men’s 100 m. hurdles
1:30 p.m. women’s 400 m. dash
1:45 p.m. men’s 400 m. dash
2 p.m. women’s 100 m. dash
2:15 p.m. men’s 100 m. dash
2:30 p.m. women’s 800 m. run
2:45 p.m. men’s 800 m. run
3 p.m. women’s 400 m. hurdles
3:15 p.m. men’s 400 m. hurdles
3:30 p.m. women’s 200 m. dash
3:45 p.m. men’s 200 m. dash
4 p.m. women’s 3000 m. run
4:15 p.m. men’s 3000 m. run
4:35 p.m. women’s 4X400 m. relay
4:50 p.m. men’s 4X100 m. relay


“We were one of the only programs in the athletics department that couldn't host a home competition, and I’m glad that now we can showcase this excellent facility,” Kraft said.

There is no permanent seating around the track, although the grassy bank behind the east end of the eight-lane oval is comfortable. Portable bleachers for 1,000 will be in place for the weekend, Kraft said. Some events can be viewed from seats in the softball stadium.

Kraft said the track facility hasn’t yet been used because of long-term scheduling issues and budget constraints. He credited new Athletics Director Jeff Compher with making it a priority to finally use the facility.

“I just thought we needed to give it a shot and then we can go back and do an assessment,” Compher said.

“If you go back and look at the original design, it wasn’t built for spectators and it is tight from a viewing perspective,” Compher said. “So it’s a challenge to get lots of people out there and have a safe environment.”

Still, Compher said ensuring a home crowd atmosphere is important.

“It’s always exciting to have a group cheering for you. I’m excited for our athletes and several of them came up to me to say how much it means for them to run at home.”

The ECU track and field team is returning home with four new school records earned at the Florida Relays on April 5. At the event in Gainesville, Fla., junior thrower Kayla Padgett won the women's hammer throw with her personal-best and school-record setting mark of 60.87-meters (199 feet, 8 inches).

Tyshonda Hawkins set a new school record by finishing the women's 200-meter dash in 23.41 seconds for a top-15 finish.

In the men’s high jump, Avion Jones cleared 2.16-meters (7 feet, 1 inch), the second-place finish in the Florida Relays. Jones' mark shattered a 33-year old ECU school record. Jones also raised the high jump record once more at the UCS Invitational by going 2.19m (7-02.25).

The women’s shuttle hurdle relay team also set a school record with a time of 59.26.

Several other ECU athletes set personal bests at the Florida Relays.

The track and field team, which has won the Conference USA championship two of the last three years, began this season with good showings at indoor events. Padgett’s 21.95-meter heave at the Penn State Nationals on Feb. 1 was the second-best distance in the nation.

Padgett qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15 at the University of New Mexico. She finished in 11th place in the 20-pound weight with a throw of 20.15 meters, or a little over 66 feet.

Also at the Penn State Nationals, freshman Aminah Ghaffar broke a 17-year-old school record when she tallied 3,248 points in the pentathlon. Jones set a new school record in the high jump by clearing 2.17 meters, or about seven feet, two inches.

In the pole vault, senior Henry Johnson has set two school records this season, the last at 5.20m (17-0.75) at the UCS Invitational in Winston-Salem.

In women’s pole vault, freshman Taylor Drummonds won the event at Virginia Tech with a personal best 3.56 meters (11 feet, 8.5 inches).

Kraft, who has been selected twice as the C-USA’s women’s indoor coach of the year, said it has been “many, many, many years” since ECU last hosted a track meet.

Bill Carson, who died last year, coached the track and field team here for 40 years. His athletes advanced to the NCAA national championships 18 of his last 19 years as coach.

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Pictured above is ECU junior Tyshonda Hawkins from Goose Creek, S.C. Hawkins set a new school record April 5 by finishing the women's 200-meter dash in 23.41 seconds.