The East Carolina University track and field team concluded the regular season this past weekend after it won seven events at the Liberty Elite Invitational and six athletes set new personal records.
“Overall the meet was a good meet, the team prepared for the AAC conference championships,” track and field head coach Curt Kraft said. “This gives us a lot of confidence going into the indoor championships in a few weeks.”
The Pirates ended the indoor season in the right fashion with two athletes cracking the top-10 list in the weekend’s meet against Liberty University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, UNC Chapel Hill, East Tennessee State University, Puerto Rico and High Point University. Sophomore Nick Ciaccia landed at No. 8 on the All-Time mark in the men’s mile for ECU, while sophomore Nuria Tillo-Prats secured fifth on the All-Time list in the women’s 800 meters.
The Pirates also secured multiple first place finishes at the invitational. Junior Courtney Warner set a meet record in the 60-meter with a time of 7.46 seconds for ECU, claiming first with her finish. Ciaccia earned two first place finishes in the mile run (4:15.15) and was a part of the 4x400 (3:17.75) relay team. Sophomore Naomi Whitaker said the meet wasn’t the team’s best performance but it was a good wake-up call.
“I believe this weekend challenged us to learn how to keep positive momentum going forward, despite things not going our way,” Whitaker said. “That will be crucial for championships.”
ECU also performed well in the field events, balancing out the success over the weekend. In the long jump, freshman Jada Terrell placed first with a jump of 5.65 meters. Sophomore Jonte Leaston recorded a high jump of 2.03 meters, setting a meet record of his own. Senior Galissia Cause also set a meet, facility and school record with a 16.09 meter toss in the shot put. Junior Ryan Davis rounded out the first place finishes by setting a meet and facility record of 20.87 meter in the weight throw.
Following the Liberty Elite Invitational, Davis and Cause were recognized for their performances for the month of January as they were named the January Student-Athletes-of-the-Month over the weekend. After setting three records in the meet, Cause remains undefeated in the shot put event. Davis also recorded the third longest weight throw in ECU program history, capping off the weekend. According to Kraft, Davis and Cause excell week in and week out.
“Anytime you’re winning events and setting school records, you are doing good things,” Kraft said. “Davis has had a tremendous indoor season up to this point. Every week you can count on him along with is counterpart Galissia Cause.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams had great outings at the invitational that saw senior Caroline Reiser, sophomore Cara Gaudioso and freshman Josh Spare all set records in the 1-mile race. While Tillo-Prats (800-meter), freshman Joe Talbert (pole vault) and juniors Rebecca Fleischer (5,000-meter) and Davis (weight throw) all set personal records in their respective events.
According to Whitaker, the team must remain healthy if it wants to succeed in the American Athletic Championships coming up. One thing that Kraft has challenged his athletes to do is stay on top of their game and watch film.
“Compared to previous seasons I think we've done a better job staying intact as much as possible.” Whitaker said. “Everyone is reviewing and analyzing previous races to see if there are minor gaps that need to be fix in our events.”
After the dominant outing in Virginia, the Pirates will now prepare for the American Athletic Conference Indoor Championships, which start on Feb. 23 in Birmingham, Alabama.
“You have to be physically and mentally prepared to compete in this conference, and I like to preach mental toughness because it is a big part of this sport,” Kraft said. “Over the next week, we will obviously work on our conditioning and we will continue to be mentally ready to face these other schools in the conference.”
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