Pioneer women chosen fifth in SAC outdoor preseason poll

Pioneer women chosen fifth in SAC outdoor preseason poll

ROCK HILL, S.C. --- The Tusculum University women's outdoor track & field team has been chosen to finish fifth at the South Atlantic Conference Championships, according to the preseason coaches poll released Monday.

The Pioneers took fourth place at the SAC Indoor Track & Field Championships last month, and were ninth overall in the inaugural SAC Outdoor Championship meet last spring.

Earning spots on the Athletes to Watch list from Tusculum were freshman sprinter Earthaiza Watkins, senior distance runner Nicole McMillen and sophomore jumper I'Keriah Day.

Watkins will be competing outdoors for the first time after finishing fifth in the 400 meters and 12th in the 200 meters at the SAC Indoor Championships. The best time for the Stamford, Connecticut product in the 200 was 25.87 at the USC Open on February 16, while her top mark of 59.76 seconds in the 400 came at the SAC Championship.

McMillen finished eighth in the 1500 meters at last year's SAC Outdoor Championship with a time of 4:52.25, and is the defending SAC Indoor champion in the mile after claiming gold by running a meet-record time of 5:06.43 to win by nearly 10 seconds. The Pickering, Ontario native earned All-SAC and All-Region honors in cross country for the Pioneers during the fall with fifth-place finishes in each race, ahead of a 59th-place showing at the Division II Championship.

Day was fourth in the long jump at last year's SAC outdoor meet with a mark of 5.39 meters (17 feet, 8 1/4 inches). The Fort Myers, Florida native took fifth in the 200 meters and sixth in the 400 meters at last month's SAC Indoor Championships, and helped both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays to earn points last season at the SAC Outdoor Championships.

Queens is favored in the poll after receiving 10 first-place votes and 110 points, followed by Lenoir-Rhyne with the other first-place vote and 99 points. Wingate (94 points) was third, followed by Carson-Newman (77) and Tusculum (67) in fifth. Following the Pioneers is Catawba with 66 points in sixth place, with Coker (57), Anderson (45), Mars Hill (41), Lincoln Memorial (37) and Newberry (22) rounding out the survey.

The SAC Outdoor Track & Field Championship will be held April 18-20 at the Irwin Belk Track on the campus of Lenoir-Rhyne in Hickory, North Carolina.