Interview: David Needs
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn.— Following a weekend off during April 1 and 2, the Carson-Newman outdoor track and field team will be back in action this weekend at the University of the Cumberlands Track & Field Invitational.
"We are going to be seeing some teams this weekend that we wouldn't normally see on an average weekend. Some teams from Kentucky will be present as well as some teams from the north," coach David Needs said. "It will be a little bit different compared to the people we are usually competing against. This is really a tune-up week because conference is next week and we have to go and get ready."
The meet will commence Friday afternoon with six field events scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m. Action will then resume at approximately 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning with the men and women's five kilometer race. The Cumberlands Invitational will then wrap up later in the evening at 4:45 p.m. with the men's 4 X 400m relay.
Teams that are scheduled to attend come from both the NCAA Division II and NAIA realms. Carson-Newman will be joining the likes of fellow South Atlantic Conference attendee Lincoln Memorial before engaging in competition outside the league with USC-Beaufort, Dalton State, Tennessee Wesleyan, Campbellsville, Union, Centre College and others.
The running surface for the events will be taking place on an eight-lane track and fully automated times will be recorded by the Finish Lynx System.
The Eagles will also be sending sprinter Kevin Snead (Richmond, Va.) to the North Carolina A&T Aggie Invitational on the weekend with hopes of improving his times in the men's 100m and 200m dashes.
The junior has already provisionally qualified in the 100m dash following a 10.56 first-place second time at the Power Sox Invitational on March 19. Snead also recorded the fastest 200m dash time in school history at the meet, completing the trial in 21.51 seconds.
A week later at the Shorter Invitational on March 26, Snead completed both races with first-place times. In four timed events the junior has competed in thus far into the 2016 outdoor season, Snead has won every event.
"One of the reasons why North Carolina A&T was a good option for Kevin was because it will give him two chances to run the 100m dash in a prelim and a final round," Needs said. "As a provisionally qualifier, he has to continue to improve his time and to keep getting better. We are hoping that in a situation like this, Kevin will continue to progress and knock that time down even further."
Stepp also provisionally qualified in the men's high jump during the first meet of the season at the Power Sox Invitational. The three-time All-American completed the event with a 2.11m leap.
Eagle pole vaulters Gaul and Shank have darted off to impressive starts to the season. Gaul has a provisional qualification mark on the women's side following a second-place finish of 3.70m at the Shorter Invitational to go along with a first-place showing a week prior at the Power Sox.
Shank has not met a provisional qualification mark on the season yet, but the true freshman shattered a 45-year old C-N record set by David Johnson in 1971 by placing a fifth-best mark at Shorter following a 4.75m tally.
Davis did so in the men's long jump after leaping to a mark of 6.83m and Dickie accomplished the feat after running a meet-best of 15:38.25 in the men's 5000m run. Mills stole the gold on the women's side in the triple jump following a mark of 11.54m.
"I'm surprised of the amount of individual success we have had so far because we have not had the greatest weather so far this season anywhere that we have been. We have either been running into rain, cold or wind," Needs said. "What I can say about these athletes is that they have stayed consistent. They are pushing themselves at a high level throughout the week and when they perform, they are competing at that level."
A full recap of the action can be found at cneagles.com following Saturday's events and live updates can be found on twitter at @CN_Track throughout the weekend.