NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, June 8,
By Bethany Bradsher
ECU foursome set for debut on
the big stage
(ECU SID images)
All rights reserved.
It’s the equivalent of
the East Carolina baseball team making the College World Series, or the
Pirate basketball team surviving until the Elite Eight round of the NCAA
But when the ECU women’s
4X400 relay team and an individual 400-meter runner qualified for the NCAA
Outdoor Championships last weekend, most fans in the Pirate Nation hardly
registered the accomplishment.
Maybe it’s because there
are so many events and so many athletes in the sport, or because a larger
number of them qualify for the NCAA Regionals.
The fact is, Aiesha
Goggins, Tiffany Harris, Tyshonda Hawkins and Tania Minkins have achieved a
singularly historic accomplishment. When they run this week at the
championships in Des Moines, IA, they will be the first ECU women’s relay
team ever to qualify for nationals. And when Goggins runs in the 400 meters
she will be the first woman to run at that level in 17 years and only the
second in Pirate history.
For head coach Curt
Kraft, they are bright signposts on the track and field program’s road to
“It seems like every time
we turn around we’re kind of setting a new standard,” Kraft said. “It’s just
something special, when a relay qualifies for the national championship. It
kind of truly defines what a team can do.”
the Track and Field Results Reporting Service, the relay team’s ECU-record
time of 3:35.75, run at the East Regional, places them 22nd in the nation
heading into the national meet. Goggins, who has broken the ECU record in
the 400 twice this season as a freshman, is ranked 4th in the nation with
her Conference USA time of 51.94.
The relay team, which
runs its preliminary heat on Thursday, has likely not even reached its peak
this season, especially because Minkins has been battling an injury this
spring and has had to sit out a number of meets.
The foursome finally ran
together again at the C-USA Championships in Houston. Even though they
dropped the baton they ran a 3:39.58 to capture third place.
Their stellar time at the
regional meet set the pace, said Harris, the only sophomore on a team with
three freshmen, and the more they accomplish the closer the group becomes.
They live together as well as train together, she said, and so they are more
like sisters than teammates.
“I knew what all of them
were capable of doing,” Harris said. “At conference we dropped the baton,
and we ran a safe race. I didn’t know how fast we could go. Now I know we
can all go faster."
“I think after our mishap
at conference, we all just took that and learned from it,” Goggins said. “I
felt like we had a lot to prove in terms of what times we can bring.”
Goggins, a freshman from
Durham, runs the anchor leg on the relay. She said that when she’s out on
the track watching her friends give their all it motivates her to run
She is a runner who
thrives in the midst of intense competition, according to Kraft.
Goggins' times are fast
enough to be in the hunt at the top of the field in the 400 open race, which
opens with preliminaries on Wednesday. She also excels at the 200 meters and
just seems to be getting better right before her coach’s eyes.
Kraft is sure that the
faster the runners in nearby lanes are, the more Goggins' true potential
“I don’t want to doubt
her,” he said. “It’s not out of the realm to think she can win it all. You
put someone out in front of her, and she is just like a rabbit, she’s a
Harris and Goggins both
said they have gained some respect on the ECU campus since they qualified
for nationals, especially among other athletes. But they are determined to
push themselves to help the Pirate program garner more credibility on the
national stage. This week in Des Moines, they hope to give everyone in the
track and field world a reason to remember East Carolina.
“If we set a couple of
school records and they do as good as they can possibly do, then we’ll let
the rest take care of itself,” Kraft said.
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06/08/2011 03:09 AM