ATLANTA (May 1) – “It’s time,” says Georgia Tech track coach Grover Hinsdale as the Rambling Wreck men’s and women’s teams look for NCAA qualifying marks at the Jesse Owens Classic, Sunday at Ohio State’s new Jesse Owens Track and Field Complex in Columbus, Ohio.
“We’re close in several events, and this is a good opportunity to get it done,” said Hinsdale.
Women’s head coach Alan Drosky concurred, “This is a storied meet, with the tradition of Jesse Owens, at a brand new facility. There should be some great competition with a good mix of schools from around the country.”
Hinsdale expects excellent competition in the 400 meters for Tech standouts Michael Johnson (Littleton, Colo.) and Bryan Swarn (Englewood, Colo.). Swarn has surpassed the NCAA provisional mark of 46.20 with an ACC-best 46.07, while Johnson’s best time thus far is the 46.66 that earned him second place at the ACC meet.
“Michael and Bryan are as healthy as they’ve been in a long time,” said Hinsdale. “Ohio State has a guy who has run about 45.4, and they also have a very good relay team, so those should be great races.”
In the 4×400-meter relay, Johnson leads off and Swarn anchors, joining senior Tosin Tomori (Harare, Zimbabwe) and freshman Sharif Azim (Marietta, Ga.) as the quartet looks to improve upon its season best time of 3:08.10. The NCAA standards are 3:07.00 for provisional and 3:03.80 for automatic.
Another performer to watch is Brendon Mahoney (Cumming, Ga.), who last week was named the ACC Freshman of the Year for outdoor track, an honor he also earned for indoor track. The ACC champion in the 800 meters, he has made the NCAA provisional standard with a 1:48.42, but the automatic mark is 1:47.20.
“Brendon is ready to break out,” said Hinsdale. “It’s just a matter of getting him in the right race on the right day. Hopefully that will be this week.”
In the field events, Tech senior Malcolm Leason (Wilmington, Del.) has won the triple jump the last two weeks with victories at the ACC Championships and the Penn Relays. He looks to better his provisional mark of 52 feet, 4.75 inches.
All-ACC performers Clayton Porter (Chesapeake, Va.) in the long jump, freshman Keith Schuler (Florence, Ky.) in the high jump and junior Chris Sinotte (Warwick, R.I.) in the javelin will also compete this weekend, looking for qualifying marks.
Highlighting the women’s contingent will be seniors Becky Megesi (Jonesboro, Ga.) in the 1,500 meters, junior Sara Pardue (Aurora, Colo.) in the 800 meters, senior Ayana Grant (Oakland, Calif.) in the 100 hurdles and sophomore Mishanta Reyes (Bronx, N.Y.) in the long jump.
Pardue, an all-America in the indoor 800 meters, has a solid provisional performance of 2:06.61 in the 800. Grant has run a provisional time of 13.62 in the hurdles but likely needs to better that. Megesi, who earned all-America status in the 1,500 in 1999, and Reyes, an all-ACC honoree in the long jump, have yet to qualify.
Not competing this weekend is all-ACC distance runner Judy Johnson (Snellville, Ga.), who takes the week off after winning the 10,000 meters at the Penn Relays with an NCAA provisional and personal best time of 34:41.30.