Saturday, February 27, 2010

Running for Mom, for Country

For some athletes, having their parents in the stands watching them compete can lead to extra pressure and thus, less than desired results. In some instances, however, the given athlete can perform to heighten successes.

At the 2010 Atlantic Sun Indoor Track & Field Championships, ETSU’s Duronal Monal, gave his mom, Jyolette, a memory to take back with her to Haiti.

Not since his high school days at Glade Central High School in Belle Glade, Fla., had Monal run in a track meet with his mom in the stands. She spends between 10 and 11 months out of the year in Haiti where she ran two convenience stores. We say ran because her stores were just part of the massive damage caused by the earthquake on January 12.

“It’s been very tough for me to practice and continue to go to meets knowing she was in Haiti,” Monal said. “God knows what was going on…I couldn’t communicate with her - the phone lines were down, so it was a very stressful time. I had support from ETSU, from the coaching staff, from my friends here, everyone was very supportive, helping me through everything. I had two false starts and that was me thinking about my mom and it was very stressful for me but I pulled myself together.”

For 10 days, Monal tried without success to reach his mother. She suffered multiple injuries resulting from the quake. It would be another three days before she left Haiti for Florida.

“She was injured very badly, but someway, somehow through God’s grace, she made it back here,” Monal said. “She had some scratches and bruises and a wound behind her head which was bleeding very badly. They had to get her to the emergency room, but they couldn’t get her there in time. She was probably suffering infection from the wound. As soon as she got to the US, they took her to the hospital and she was good to go.”

At his final Indoor Championships, Monal entered in a pair of individual events, the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. In both events he established Championship records, and did so with NCAA provisional qualifying times.

“She’s always busy in Haiti and never saw me,” Monal said. “It’s my senior year and I’m glad she was here to come see me run.”

Through Duronal, Jyolette said “Even if it was 3,000 miles, I said I would make sure I came to support my baby. That trip from Haiti was terrible, but I would find it in my power to make it here.”

At the podium to receive his medals, Monal displayed a miniature Haitian flag, given to him by his mom after the quake hit. He has carried the flag with him throughout the weekend and for the first time, as suggested by his mom, he raced with the flag tucked inside his tights.

“I’m coming out here and I’m running for my country, I’m running for them. This is my country and I love this country. I’m going to support them 100 percent and I’m going to keep holding this flag until the meet is complete,” Monal said.

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same for JU

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – There were definitely some changes for the Jacksonville women’s track & field program this year.

The conference changed the format at the championship meet, upping the number of scoring athletes from six to eight. On paper, this change would seem to favor teams with more depth than JU typically features.

Perhaps even more important was the departure of the best track & field athlete in A-Sun history, Natasha Harvey.

“I made a joke getting on the bus and asked everyone where Natasha was” said head coach Ron Grigg. “We are [known for] winning championships with her as our leader, but we knew we have two very strong freshmen and knew the points would be replaced. The Conference gets better every single year and Kennesaw State (who finished runner up) gets better every single year. The performances are getting closer and closer which is great for the competitiveness of the conference.”

So, one thing did not change, the Dolphins again dominated the competition, cruising to their fifth consecutive conference indoor title. Facing a slim deficit after day one, Jacksonville won the first six track events of the second day to take control.

Joane Pierre, Alyssa Deal, Anastasia Fokina and Alison Ritter swept the top four spots in the mile run to turn a 5.5-point disadvantage into a 23.5-point advantage to set the tone for the rest of the team. The Dolphins capped the rally with Louise Kiernan leading another quartet of runners to the top-4 spots in the 200 Meter Dash.

“We feel like we are a strong team and we push each other every day,” reflected Pierre, the meet’s Most Outstanding Track Performer. “We knew we could count on each other. It was really neat the way we finished that race.”

All told, 17 of 22 student-athletes competing in the meet scored at least one point for Coach Grigg while his sensational freshmen duo of Charlene Charles and Pierre swept the post-meet awards.

“We went about this with the same process: Training hard throughout the year, Setting high goals and Trying to have our best meet this weekend,” commented Grigg.

No offense Natasha (and what an amazing run you had in the A-Sun), but with freshmen like Pierre and Charles leading the way, the Harvey era is officially one for the record books at Jacksonville.

“To enter into this winning tradition as a freshman is awesome for me. I love JU and the team works together so well. I’m just glad to be a part of the tradition,” closed Pierre.

The Dolphins look like staying power will not be a problem.

What individual do you think had the most impressive meet?

Jacksonville Dolphins Looking for Conference Crown

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – After coming off a record-breaking season in 2009, the Jacksonville Dolphins are looking forward to a fifth league title in the 2010 Atlantic Sun Women’s Indoor Track and field Championships.

But with the top performer in A-Sun Track & Field history Natasha Harvey leaving the field, no pun intended, JU has managed to find winners in each and every member still on the team.

Head Coach Ron Grigg and the Dolphins lean on the pentathletes to set the pace for another title run. However, a rough start challenged the pentathlete team, as Charles fouled in the shot put and found herself in the last spot after that event. Charles managed to come back in the long jump with a 5.99-meter mark, and finish first in the 800-meters at 2:23.33 to earn a bronze medal in the pentathlon. Her nearest competition in the final event of the pentathlon was teammate Stacey Young at just over 11 seconds later (2:34.47) than the freshman.

“I would like to qualify for the NCAAs, but earlier I wasn’t thinking about my team,” said Charles. “My coach and my teammates talked to me so I’m focused on trying to beat my record. It depends on the situation, but the pentathlon is exciting because it’s challenging and you love it, but you get really tired. We have solidarity on the team because we’re always cheering for each other. It’s a very good team. Today was very exciting, but very early because we start at 8:30 and we have to be here at 7:00 a.m.”

The preparation for this exhausting event in the championship begins long before the day of competition. With an eight hour bus ride from Jacksonville to Johnson City, the team readied itself for a grueling weekend. The pentathletes for the JU Dolphins know among anyone else the difficulties of competition.

“We came over here for a shakeout at 6:00 p.m. and that’s when the preparation really begins,” head coach Ron Grigg said. “The team dinner is from 7:30-8:45 p.m. at the Olive Garden, followed by a team meeting at 9:00. The pentathletes all had time with our massage therapist at 9:30 p.m., which involves about a 15 minute massage before packing their bags and making sure they had everything they need like their food and all of their different shoes. Then they are in bed around 11:00-11:30 p.m.”

Coach Grigg prefers the team to have an early rise at 6:00 a.m. which gives the body a chance to wake up before competition begins.

“At 8:30 a.m. you run as fast as you need to run in the hurdles so the body has to be awake and the nervous system has to be ready. We left the hotel at 7:00 a.m. and were in this facility by 7:10 a.m. so that they again can get some quick time on the massage table. Then we’ll have an extended warm-up. Even though they are good hurdlers, with it being so early in the morning, they have to do a little bit more warm-up to get ready for the hurdles.

The 60-meter hurdles happen to be Stacey Young’s favorite and best event, as she has competed in them for several years. However, Young performed well during a majority of the combined events of the pentathlon. In the 60-meter hurdles, the sophomore recorded a time of 8.81 seconds, good for second place after teammate Charlene Charles. Young tied for third in the high jump with a 1.57-meter leap with Campbell’s Sena Bekric.

The Lithonia, Ga. native also tallied a sixth-place finish in the shot put with a distance of 9.56-meters. In the long jump, Young placed second after Charles with a jump of 5.50-meters. The top-performer then recorded a final time of 2:34.47 in the 800-meters, good for a second-place finish, and a win in the combined events with 3,490 points.

“This year, I PR-ed in all of my events except the high jump, so I think I did pretty well,” Young said. “We all push each other, and we all cheer for each other so we can do our best. I think we’re going to win, but I don’t want to speak too soon.”

Who do you think is the top athlete you have ever seen in an A-Sun event?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Eggs Counted Early for Kemboi But They Still Hatch

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Everyone seemed to know except the one who should have been most keenly aware.

Gilbert Kemboi turned the corner and closed on what he thought was the final stretch of his conference championship effort in the 3000-meter run. The USC Upstate freshman raised his hand as the officials on the track, fans in the stands, and public address announcer on the mike collectively told him in their own unique ways that the bell lap was just beginning.

“I thought that I was done because there was a delay in the bell as I approached the finish line,” said Kemboi.

“I haven’t sprinted in about 15 years, but I took off across the infield from the pole vault coaching box to yell at him,” reflected head coach Jimmy Stephens. “He almost gave me a heart attack.”

That brief hesitation nearly changed the complexion of the race. However, Kemboi regained his composure and defeated two-time defending A-Sun Cross Country Champion Kenneth Rotich by five seconds on his way to a meet record time of 8:23.37.

“With Rotich behind him, I thought he would get caught,” Stephens said. “It just shows what kind of character he has and what a tough competitor that he is.”

Kemboi, who earned Freshman of the Year honors at the 2009 A-Sun Cross Country Championship, made a strong opening statement in his bid to claim the same honor at the Indoor Championship. He returns to David E. Walker track tomorrow evening in the 5000-meter run. The good news … he is the fourth-seeded runner in the event. The bad news … there are a lot more laps to keep count.

Who do you think will win Freshman of the Year honors at the Indoor Track & Field Championship?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tournament Position on the Line in the Final Weekend

The Atlantic Sun enters its final weekend of regular season action with both the men’s and women’s championship field set but with only one of eight seeds locked in.

If you want to see the race for the A-Sun title make sure you get your tickets as soon as possible.
Here’s the link to A-Sun Championships Tickets -

Not everyone can make it to Macon for the Atlantic Sun Championships but that does not mean you have to miss out. A-Sun.TV will have all the games and the best part is the first round matchups are free. Here’s the link to A-Sun.TV -

The General Shale Brick Atlantic Sun Championships begin March 3 at the University Center in Macon Ga., but with little over a week before the tournament gets underway there still remains a great deal up in the air. Only one seed in both the men’s and women’s championships has been set with ETSU the top team in the women’s bracket.

In the men’s standings, none of the seeds are locked up, setting the table for a wild final weekend of the regular season. Campbell and Jacksonville enter the final slate of games tied atop the men’s basketball standings with a critical meeting between the two schools coming on Thursday in Jacksonville. A contest that can be seen live on ASun.TV.

Entering the final weekend of games, four teams remain in contention for the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship. Campbell, Jacksonville, Belmont and Lipscomb could all finished tied for atop the regular season standings in which case Lipscomb would win the tie breaker and earn the top seed in the conference tournament. Meanwhile a three way time between the Camels, Dolphins and Bruins would result in top seed going to Belmont.

We have not even touched on the teams that even though can’t claim the No. 1 seed, could still drastically improve their position in the conference championship. ETSU enters the weekend in the fifth spot but possibly rise all the way to the second seed.

The Dolphins could have the most interesting games as they face Campbell Thursday and ETSU Saturday. With a pair of wins the Dolphins would pick up the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Sun or they could possibly fall all of the way to the fifth seed with a pair of losses.

On the women’s side, the Lady Bucs cannot rest on the final weekend of regular season action as they sit only a game behind FGCU for the regular season crown. With two games to play for nearly everyone, seeds two though eight could fall to anyone.

Mercer enters the final weekend of action in the No. 2 seed position but open action Thursday against Belmont, who with a Campbell loss could slip into the two-slot as well. Campbell faces Kennesaw State and Jacksonville, who enter the weekend with the same record and could get seeded any where from third to eighth. Stetson enters the weekend with a tough tasking with only one game to try and lift themselves out of the eighth spot and avoid facing defending champs ETSU in the first round.

Fans can follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and on Facebook. Visit to begin receiving updates on conference news, weekly awards, and from A-Sun championships. Atlantic Sun followers with a Facebook account can become a "fan" of the conference by visiting

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Forecasting the First weekend of A-Sun Baseball

MACON, Ga. - The college baseball season gets under way this weekend with all 11 A-Sun teams in action with 10 squads hosting games.

Given the crazy weather of the past few weeks the A-Sun Insider decieded to take a look at what fans can expect this weekend. Thanks to for the forcasts.

Belmont and Lipscomb (Nashville, Tenn.)
The Bruins welcome Evansville to Shelby Park for a three-game set this weekend to open season. Games get underway at 3:00 p.m. CT Friday at Shebly Park. Saturday, the Bruins and Aces are scheduled for a double header starting at noon CT.

The Bisons look to do battle with Murray State starting at 4:00 p.m. CT on Friday at Dugan Field in a three game set schedule to go through Sunday. These games are in question after the Lipscomb softball team cancelled its doubleheader against UAB set for Tuesday.

Friday looks good to ball some ball but it will be chilly as the high is set for 46 but they are calling for a chance of showers the rest of the weekend.

Full Weekend Forcast -

Campbell (Buies Creek, N.C.)
The Fighting Camels welcome in-state rival UNC Asheville for three games in two days at Taylor Field. The sereies gets underway at 4:00 p.m. Friday with a double headed set for Saturday starting at a 1:00 p.m.

Without trying to jinx the Camels the outlook appears to be good in Buies Creek with tempatures in the 50’s and clear skies for opening weekend.

Full Weekend Forcast -

USC Upstate (Spartanburg, S.C.)
The Spartans open the season with a double header Saturday with a 1:00 p.m. contest with Applachian State followed by a contest with Presbyterian.

The weather looks to stay solid in the Carolinas with highs in the 50’s and just a few clouds but nothing that could stop the start of the Spartans season.

Full Weekend Forcast -

Kennesaw State (Kennesaw, Ga.)
The Owls welcome Liberty to Stillwell Stadium where Kennesaw State has won 70-percent of its games since the start of the 2007 season.

Once again things look great for the start of the season with highs in the mid-50’s and slim to no chance (fingers crossed) of showers.

Full Weekend Forcast -

Mercer (Macon, Ga.)
The weather will be all but perfect for the Bears as they open the season against Morehead State with four games in three days. The sereies begins Friday with a doubleheader on Saturday and a Monday finale at 1:00 p.m. High will be in the mid to upper 50’s with a chance of 60 or more on Sunday and most importantly clear skies all around.

Full Weekend Forcast -

Jacksonville and UNF (Jacksonville, Fla.)
The Dolphins host UNC Wilimington to the open the season at Sessions field starting at 4:00 p.m. Friday. Both Saturday and Sunday’s games are 1:00 p.m. starts and if you can’t make it out to the games on Friday and Saturday check them out on A-SunTV.

Ospreys begin the final season of the Dusty Rhodes Era, against Ohio State at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 19 at Harmon Stadium. UNF continues the weekend, versus Richmond at 1:00 p.m on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Ospreys close out the opening weekend with a 3:00 p.m. game against in-state rival Florida A&M on Sunday, Feb. 21. All these games can also be seen on ASunTV

The Sunshine state should live up to its name in Jacksonville with tempatures in the 60’s and clear skies.

Full Weekend Forcast -

ASunTV -

Stetson (Deland, Fla.)
Things continue to look clear and sunny as we move farther south where the Hatters welcome Siena to Melching Field for a rare Saturday through Tuesday four game set.

Full Weekend Forcast -

FGCU (Fort Myers, Fla.)
The two-time defending regular season champions open their season against the Temple Owls in the toughest A-Sun baseball stadium to visit. The Eagles have won almost 71-percent of their games at Swanson Stadium holding a record of 39-16 at home since the start of the 2007 season.

It looks like their will be some clouds hanging for the season opener the weekend look pretty clear for the preseason conference favorite.

Full Weekend Forcast -

Fans can follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and on Facebook. Visit to begin receiving updates on conference news, weekly awards, and from A-Sun championships. Atlantic Sun followers with a Facebook account can become a "fan" of the conference by visiting

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nation's Most Hotly Contested Race Hits Homestretch

Do you enjoy thrillers where every scene leads you to an unexpected twist? Or maybe a book by Jeffrey Deaver where there is no way to figure out “who done it” until the very end because it always seems to be the guy in the corner of the coffee shop reading the paper in chapter 3?

If that is you, then you are loving the men’s basketball race in the Atlantic Sun Conference this year. Our league boasts the nation’s tightest race for the regular season title [Division I Conference standings – ]. It has been a topsy-turvy ride that sees five teams within ½ game of league co-leaders Belmont and Lipscomb.

“From the beginning of the season I've thought that there were several teams that had a chance to win the league. With five teams within half a game of each other, the league certainly has a lot of parity,” said Lipscomb head coach Scott Sanderson.

While you are pondering that, check out the highlights from last week’s action on the hardwood.

Let’s take a quick look back and we can see some of the twists and turns. Campbell shot out of the gates at 6-1 and claimed a spot as a surprise title contender. About this time, Jacksonville righted the ship and reeled off a nine-game conference winning streak to surge into first place. Then, the Music City bullies of Belmont and Lipscomb both handed the Dolphins losses to get us to today.

“I doubt that the closeness of our race is a surprise to any of the coaches in league. It reflects the many close games we have all had during the season. It is great for the fans of Atlantic Sun basketball.,” Belmont coach Rick Byrd said.

Let’s say all four of those teams are title contenders. Who else is out there? Don’t forget about defending champ ETSU whose season has been a microcosm of the entire league. Despite three conference losses at homes, the Bucs are in the cluster of teams hovering near the top of the standings and feature a double-double machine in Tommy Hubbard and one of the league’s hottest players the last two weeks in Isaiah Brown. Kennesaw State just saw a six-game winning streak snapped so they’ve earned the right to be in the conversation. Mercer won five-straight earlier in the year and are hosting the tournament, plus with a senior-laden squad emotion will already be on their side. Finally, UNF owns victories over both Belmont and Lipscomb this year.


It’s going to be a page-turner until the end. We hope you get out and support your favorite team or watch them on ASun.TV down the stretch.

Who do you think will win the regular season title? What will the regular season champs’ record be at the end of the day on February 27?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Art of the Post at USC Upstate

Nick Schneiders’ passion for graphic design has taken him from Reitberg, Germany to Spartanburg, S.C.

Schneiders continues to solidify his place as one of the best big men in the history of Spartan basketball. The 7-3 center ranks as one of 19 active Division I players with over 480 rebounds and 170 blocks. But basketball does not rank as his top priority. Growing up in Germany, Schneider enjoyed graphic design much more than basketball.

“I started playing basketball really late,” Schneiders said. “I was playing in Europe and Coach Payne found me and to brought me to Upstate.”

Once hearing about USC Upstate’s graphic design program, Schneiders knew this would be the prefect chance to get a free education in the program he loved.

“I knew it was something I wanted to do right away.” Schneiders said. “I wanted to work in graphic design and I was not going to waste a chance to get my education.”

Schneiders has not wasted the opportunity posting excellent grades and CoSIDA/ ESPN The Magizine named Schneiders to their First-Team Academic All-District Team. The honor adds to an impressive academic resume for Schneiders, who carries a 3.71 GPA as a graphic design major.

The senior center recorded a perfect 4.0 GPA in the fall semester, the third time he has turned in a semester without a blemish. Schneiders has developed into quite an artistic individual. He was one of 20 student-athletes in all of the NCAA to have artwork on display at the 2009 NCAA Convention in Washington, D.C. and was featured on the NCAA Web site.

“Going to Washington, (D.C.) was a tremendous honor.” Schneiders said. “I have never done anything on that level with that many people seeing it. It was such an honor.”

He has earned Atlantic Sun Academic All-Conference honors three times and Peach Belt Conference academic accolades in 2006-07 on the Presidential Honor Roll prior to USC Upstate’s move to Division I and the A-Sun.

Schneiders wants to continue playing basketball for as long as he can but he knows he has another thing to fall back on that he loves. As he continues to accomplish goals and live his dream, he defines what being a student-athlete is about.

Fans can follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and on Facebook. Visit to begin receiving updates on conference news, weekly awards, and from A-Sun championships. Atlantic Sun followers with a Facebook account can become a "fan" of the conference by visiting

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Is this Year “Next Year” For Stetson Men’s Tennis?

The Stetson Hatters know heartbreak like very few do.

For the past four seasons the Hatters have made the final of the Atlantic Sun Men’s Tennis Championship and lost. It brings to mind the Buffalo Bills of the NFL falling four times in the Super Bowl or the Boston College men’s hockey team dropping back-to-back NCAA title games, but unlike the Bills, the Eagles finally got their title on try number three.

In 2006, No. 2 seeded Stetson made it all the way to the finals and faced Belmont on neutral ground in Macon, Ga. The No. 4 seeded Bruins refused to be denied and earned the upset victory against the Hatters who started a run of woe few could have predicted.

Men’s tennis powerhouse ETSU continues to be the thorn in the side of the Hatters. The Bucs have been the dominate force in the A-Sun, having never lost a regular season conference contest.

In 2007 ETSU swept the Hatters to their second consecutive loss in the conference championships. ETSU played like a team on a mission in 2007 and 2008 failing to lose on conference match and not dropping a single point in either A-Sun championship.

After another promising run in 2009, it looked like the Hatters would finally get their chance to hold the A-Sun title. However, fate had other plans as an upset attempt by of ETSU’s Enrique Olivares by Stetson’s Filip Kricka failed and Sander Gille took down Mark Mestan, 6-4, 6-2. Maksim Levanovich grabbed a singles win against ETSU’s Grega Teraz, but it would not be enough and for the fourth consecutive season, Stetson return to Deland hat in hand.

Stetson continues to wait for its Boston College moment for all the pain to pay off in a title. However, hopes springs eternal for the Hatters and the folks in DeLand have reason to hope as in 2010 the men’s tennis championship heads to their campus and on their courts.

The past three seasons it has been the Hatters making the 852 mile journey to Johnson City, Tenn., for the A-Sun championships and now it is the Bucs turn. ETSU travels to Stetson this season and will need to defeat the Hatters on their home court in the Florida sun to claim the conference crown.

Following a rain out against No. 21 Miami, Stetson opened the season with a dominate victory against Bethune-Cookman in which six players scored straight-set wins. Cesare Gallo opened the season ranked at No. 15 in singles in the ITA Southeast Region poll. Maksim Levanovich, Gallo’s doubles partner, returns after assisting in the pair’s 21 wins in 25 doubles contests a season ago.

Stetson will continue to battle and hope this is the year, but if not, there is always next year ….

Fans can follow the Atlantic Sun on Twitter and on Facebook. Visit to begin receiving updates on conference news, weekly awards, and from A-Sun championships. Atlantic Sun followers with a Facebook account can become a "fan" of the conference by visiting