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NEWS, NOTES & COMMENTARY
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The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, June 7, 2006

By Bethany Bradsher

ECU track & field hits the national stage

©2006 Bonesville.net

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 the ground.”

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 bright future.

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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02/23/2007 01:13:07 AM

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