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T&F: 10 Pirates headed to NCAA championships

Posted June 1

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— The East Carolina track and field team turned in several strong performances at the NCAA East Regional as a program-best 10 Pirates qualified for the 2014 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore. ECU will be represented in six events at the championships which begin Wednesday, June 11 and conclude Saturday, June 14.

“It’s hard to put into words how excited we are as a coaching staff on what we have accomplished this weekend,” Head Coach Curt Kraft said. “We have 10 individuals in six different events that are moving on to Eugene, Ore., in two weeks. This is the highest number of individuals, as well as events, that we have ever moved on to the National Championships in school history.”

Three of the 10 student-athletes qualified in two events each. Sophomore Cameron Hudson will represent the Pirates in both the men’s long jump and 4x100-meter relay, while seniors Tania Minkins and Tyshonda Hawkins will see action in the women’s 200-meter dash as well as the 4x100-meter relay.

Hudson will make his second straight trip to the NCAA Championships after notching a qualifying mark of 7.50-meters (24’ 7.25”) in the long jump. He came back and helped the men’s 4x100-meter relay squad of Michael Neal, Hunter Furr and Austin Lewis record a season-best and qualifying time of 39.62. Their relay time ranks the quartet eighth all-time at East Carolina.

Sophomore jumper Avion Jones punched his ticket to Eugene, Ore., after tallying a mark of 2.17-meters (7’ 1.5”) in the men’s high jump. Jones is the current school record holder in the event with a distance of 2.21-meters (7’ 3”).

Minkins and Hawkins each earned qualifying times in the women’s 200-meter dash as Minkins finished the event in 23.59, while Hawkins recorded a time of 23.60. The pair also led the women’s 4x100-meter relay team, which also included senior Erin Tucker and freshman Jasmine Dawson, to a qualifying time of 44.62. The relay squad owns the school record in the event with a time of 44.38.

Rounding out the Pirates heading to the NCAA Championships is redshirt senior jumper Tynita Butts who will make her fourth career appearance in the outdoor championships. The five-time All-American qualified in the women’s high jump after recording a clearance of 1.81-meters (5’ 11.25”).

“I think the momentum and confidence that we generated form the Conference USA Championships carried over into this meet,” Kraft explained. “This is such a great reward for all of the student-athletes that have worked so hard all year long to achieve their goals.”

The Pirates will spend the next two weeks preparing for the NCAA Outdoor Championships as they look to continue the success they have had this season in Eugene, Ore.

“Going to Eugene, Ore., is a very special thing for a track and field athlete in this country,” Kraft said. “Now the goals have to change again. Just because they made it to Eugene, Ore., does not mean they can be satisfied. Now they have to go and prove that they belong there. I know one thing; we are going to be proud to represent East Carolina University on the biggest stage in our sport.”

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