NEWS, NOTES &
Wednesday, June 7, 2006
By Bethany Bradsher
ECU track & field hits the
When the 2006 spring sports season commenced,
some 150 East Carolina athletes were competing on fields, courts and tracks.
Today, there are just half a dozen.
Six Pirate track and field athletes
have earned the chance to compete in
the last stop of their sport: The NCAA National Meet, which will start today
in Sacramento, CA.
Senior hurdler Hector
Cotto, junior hammer thrower Eric Frasure and the 4X100 relay team of senior
De’Andre Hyman and freshmen, Jerek Hewett, David Rucker and Kevin Thompson
advanced to the meet that is the grand climax of the NCAA outdoor season.
The two individuals,
Cotto and Frasure, hold seven different school records between them, and the
sprint relay unit is distinguished as the only team at the national
competition that includes three freshmen. All of the Pirates will compete in
the preliminaries on Wednesday, with hopes that they will perform well
enough to extend their stay on the West Coast.
The athlete with the best
chance of advancing to the finals seems to be Cotto, said ECU men’s track
coach Bill Carson. Cotto is running at the top of his game right now, Carson
said, breaking his own school record in the 110-meter hurdles at the NCAA
Regional Meet on May 27. He finished third in that meet with a 13.66, a time
that is the 11th best in the nation this spring.
And even though 10 other
hurdlers have run faster times than Cotto, Carson said, a number of them ran
those fast times early in the season. Cotto, on the other hand, is peaking
just in time for nationals.
“He made the semis last
year, and he should have made the finals,” said Carson, who is in his 39th
year as the ECU track coach. “I think he’ll make the semifinals, and from
there, of course, it’s a crap shoot.”
The most decorated member
of the track and field team this year has been Frasure, a junior from
Charlotte who was discovered by Carson when he entered some throwing events
at a local Highlands Games. He has set school records in the hammer throw,
shot put and discus this season, and he also holds the indoor records in the
shot put and the weight throw.
Frasure will compete in
the hammer throw at the national meet, even though he didn’t learn that he
had qualified for the championships until a few days ago. At the regional
meet, he fell during a throw and injured his knee, and for the rest of the
competition he had to throw with only his upper body.
Despite that handicap,
Frasure threw well enough to finish ninth at the meet, and that result,
along with his Conference USA tournament and ECU record-setting throw of
64.34 meters earned him an invitation to Sacramento.
“He holds every throwing
record that we have, and he’s still got a year left,” Carson said.
The last four ECU
athletes who are gaining their first national exposure are the members of
the 4X100 relay team, three freshman and one senior that come in ranked 17th
out of 18th but hope to put it all together in the preliminary round today.
“We’ve extended our
hand-off zones,” Carson said. “We’re going for broke. If we hit it, it’s
going to be a great handoff. If we don’t, we could very well be laying on
Across the nation, it’s
been a fast year for the sprint relay, Carson said, with teams from Texas
universities coming on particularly strong. But most of those leading teams
include two or three seniors, and the ECU group’s youth gives the Pirates a
One of the members of
that relay team is Hewett, who doubles as a defensive member of the football
team in the fall. Hewett, who has said that he thrives on the controlled
chaos of playing two sports, runs the second leg of the race.
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