Memphis Track & Field News & Notes
Jan. 21, 2004
MEMPHIS-As the University of Memphis Men's and Women's Track teams prepare for the upcoming 2004 season, many happenings occurred within the program during the offseason. The men's team signed nine new athletes while the women signed eight for the upcoming track season. Six Memphis Tiger track athletes graduated in December and a couple athletes excelled in individual competition. Meanwhile the Lady Tigers added a former standout runner to the coaching staff.
Tigers add 10 to roster for spring
Coach Glenn Hays and Coach Kevin Robinson wrapped up one of the Tigers most aggressive recruiting campaigns and lured several talented athletes that will boost the Tigers already strong throwing and distance corps while adding a top-flight jumper that Memphis was in dire need of.
The first of the new signees is jumper Janon Busby (Jr./Mobile Ala./Wallace State J.C./Davidson H.S.). Busby, is a junior college transfer won the NJCAA National Championship in the triple jump in 2003. He also placed in the high jump at the competition and posted best marks of 2.03m (high jump) and 15.06m (triple jump). Busby will be a top jumper in C-USA in events that the Tigers did not enter competitors in last year.
The Tigers added three throwers to go along with C-USA Champions Gaute Myklebust and Adam Martin; giving the Tigers arguably the best throwing group in C-USA. Stein Syverson (Sr./Sarsborg, Norway/Norwegian School of Management/St. Olan H.S.) joins the program and will compete this spring as a graduate student after completing college in Norway. Syverson boasts an impressive 16.83m in the shot put, which he won the Nordic Junior Championships with in 2002. He also throws the discus. Guylas Norbert (Fr./Budapest, Hungary/Petofi Sandor) became the latest Hungarian to join the Memphis track team. A discus and shot put thrower, he won 10 collective national championships in Hungary in youth, high school and juniors competition. He holds the Hungarian Juniors record in the discus at 56.56m. Darius Frye (Fr./Memphis, Tenn./Craigmont H.S.) joined the Tigers last fall. A Memphis City Champion in the discus, he won the Tennessee Summer Track Association State Championship in the discus as well in 2003.
Two hurdlers were added to the team, one last fall and one this spring. Larry Harris (Fr./Cordova, Tenn./Cordova H.S.) holds his high school's record in the 400m hurdles and he qualified for the Junior Olympics in 2002. Daniel Kiss (Jr./Budapest, Hungary/Human Kozepiskola) won the Hungarian Junior Indoor Championship in the 110m hurdles in 1999 and 2000. He holds the Hungarian Junior record at 13.75 in the 110m hurdles.
Finally, three distance runners join the Tigers in 2004. Michael Mentz (Fr./Bloemfontein, South Africa/St. Andrew) was a multi-sport standout athlete in South Africa making All-Free State in four different sports. He was the Free State Champion in the 800m at 1:52.80 and posted a personal best time of 3:54.01 in the 1500m in high school. Szilard Toth (Jr./Pecs, Hungary/Berzsenyi) played five sports in Hungary before concentrating on track. He was the Hungarian Indoor Champion in the 1500m with a time of 3:49.00. Abraham Shaposhnik (Fr./Jerusalem,Israel/Boit Hiuuch) also joins the team this spring. A top runner from the Middle East, he will add depth to the Tigers squad.
The Tigers added another athlete in an event that they did not compete in last year when they signed Cody Rushing (Fr./Memphis, Tenn.), a pole vaulter from Memphis. Rushing is a very capable vaulter and could give the Tigers critical points at the championship meets.
Lady Tigers ink nine more for 2004
Already adding seven freshmen distance runners that competed in cross country in the fall, The Lady Tigers added eight track specific athletes including seven freshmen and one junior transfer for the 2004 track season.
Headlining this group is sprinter/jumper Cassandra Harding (Fr./Killeen, Texas/Ellison H.S.). Harding was a highly touted recruit whose triple jump marks in high school compare favorably to the elite in C-USA. She also ran sprints in high school but may focus on jumping for the Lady Tigers. Harding was recruited by Texas Tech, Washington State and Kansas State among others and before choosing to attend the University of Memphis. Shelly Alexin (Fr./Cordova, Tenn./St. Agnes Academy) is a multi-event star that should make an immediate impact for the Lady Tigers. She specializes in the high jump but is capable of competing in the pentathlon. She was the Tennessee regional high jump champion in 2002.
The Lady Tigers inked five sprinters in this group. Alicia Marner (Fr./Memphis, Tenn./East H.S.) was a member of East H.S. state championship teams in 1999 and 2001. Ashley Harris (Fr./Champagne, Ill./Watkins H.S.) was an excellent track athlete along with starring in basketball in high school. She led her track team in high school to the Illinois Sectionals Championship in 2003. LaShanda Jones (Fr./Memphis, Tenn./Booket T. Washington) joined the team last fall. A local product, she willa dd depth to the sprint corps. Franicia Barnett (Fr./Sanford, Fla./Seminole H.S.) hails from Florida where she was the MVP of her high school track team excelling in the 200m, 400m and relays. She holds her high school's record in the 400m at 56.10. Walkon LaShunda Flake (Fr./Memphis, Tenn./Overton H.S.) will give the Tigers a dependable and experienced relay runner. She was the captain of her high school track team.
The Lady Tigers also added one hurdler and one distance runner this spring. Camillia Lucas (Fr./Memphis, Tenn./Ridgeway H.S.) is a former All-Metro Memphis hurdler and led her high school to three straight Tennessee State Championships from 2001-03. Transfer Shermekia Plez (Jr./Memphis, Tenn./Jackson State/Craigmont H.S.) joins the Lady Tigers after being named SWAC Freshman of the Year in 2002 while competing at Jackson State. She won the conference championship in the 1500m with a time of 4:57.00.
Six Memphis Track Athletes Graduate in December 2003
Monique Nelson, Courtland Perry, Michael Woods, Adam Didyk, Cherishe Hollingsworth and Leslie-Ann Daley all earned degrees from the University of Memphis this past December. Nelson was a top shot put and discus thrower in C-USA for four years, while Hollingsworth competed in the pentathlon and jumps. Woods, a sprinter is now a graduate student and will compete for the Tigers this spring. Didyk, a native of Australia, was a C-USA runner-up in two distance events in 2003. And Perry, who last competed in 2002, was a triple jumper and finished third in C-USA Outdoors as a senior.
Gibson Named Student Assistant Coach
Keenan Gibson, who became the first Lady Tiger to qualify for the NCAA Championships in 2003; was named Student Assistant Coach by Coach Brenda Calhoun-Cash this spring. Gibson, who qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 200m dash, will work with the Lady Tiger sprinters this spring as she completes her studies at the U of M.
Mahmood Wins St. Jude Memphis Marathon
Memphis sophomore distance runner Imran Mahmood (Germantown, Tenn.) won the St. Jude Memphis Marathon on Dec. 6, 2003. Competing in the 16-19 year old age group, Mahmood posted a time of 3 hours, 18 minutes and 52 seconds (3:18:52.00) in the 26.2-mile race. He competed against several other top runners in his age bracket from the Mid-South.
Nemeth leaves team to train for the 2004 Olympics
Gary Nemeth, a native of Sopron, Hungary, left the University of Memphis this spring to train for the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece. He will compete as a member of the Hungarian 4x100m Relay Team. Nemeth's father, Gyula Nemeth, is the coach of that relay team. A top sprinter the last two years at Memphis, Nemeth plans to return to Memphis after the Olympics, to complete his schooling and rejoin the Memphis Track team.