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By its very nature, collegiate track and field involves dozens of
events, with every athlete tracking his or her time to the farthest decimal
East Carolina head coach Curt Kraft has
witnessed plenty of personal bests and broken records, but this indoor
season, with 10 new school records so far in just four meets, the riches
have been more abundant than usual.
“Any time you’re setting school records,
you’re going to have a lot of excitement within the team,” said Kraft, who
is in his ninth season at the helm of the combined track and field squads.
“We’re really, really excited about what we’ve accomplished. If we could
break records at the Conference USA championships that would be the ultimate
Among the highlights for ECU runners and
field-event competitors since December 7:
• Junior Kayla Padgett, who competes in the
shot put and the 20-pound weight throw, has toppled her own school record in
the weight throw three different times this season, and her latest top mark
of 21.95 meters – set at the Penn State Nationals – is the second best in
• Freshman Aminah Ghaffar claimed one of
the oldest Pirate records when she tallied 3,248 points in the pentathlon at
the Penn State Nationals. The previous pentathlon record had been standing
for 17 years.
• Sophomore Avion Jones, a newcomer to ECU
after transferring from Virginia Military Institute, set a new record in the
high jump at Penn State with a jump of 2.17 meters. In the following meet,
the Virginia Tech Elite, Jones’s senior teammate Drew Kanz matched that mark
to claim co-ownership of the record. That depth, at events like the high
jump and the pole vault, has been one of the most encouraging signs to Kraft
as he has watched his team collect personal and school milestones. “They are
doing a fantastic job of pushing each other,” Kraft said of the jumpers.
• In the pole vault, senior Henry Johnson
has set two school records already, reaching his current mark of 5.08 meters
at the Virginia Tech Elite. Teammates Stephen Hodapp, who owns the
third-best ECU jump of all time, and Aaron Zakula have been right at
Johnson’s heels this season. In the women’s pole vault, freshman Taylor
Drummonds won the event at the Penn State Nationals with a personal best of
• In distance running, redshirt senior
Brooke Kott just keeps getting better, setting a new school record in the
1,000 meters at Penn State with a time of 2:52.03 and besting her own
personal record in the mile at Virginia Tech with a 4:56.75. Her mile time
is ECU’s third best of all time.
Kraft is working to keep his team focused
on the ultimate goal – titles at the Conference USA Championships in late
February and a strong shot of adrenaline heading into the outdoor season
that immediately follows. One highlight of the outdoor season, a milestone
arranged by new athletic director Jeff Compher, is the first home track and
field meet at the Pirates' new facility.
The meet, the Bill Carson Invitational,
will feature South Carolina, UNC-Wilmington and UNC-Charlotte and will be
contested on April 11 and 12. It’s an event marked in red on the calendars
of ECU athletes, and Kraft hopes that the Pirate Nation will plan to come
out to show their support – and see ECU’s record breakers in action.
“It’s the first time we’ve hosted an
outdoor meet in many, many, many years,” Kraft said.