Video: David Needs Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn.—A year following a fifth-place T.J. Davis (Chattanooga, Tenn.) finish in the men's long jump at the 2015 Penn Relays, Carson-Newman track and field coach David Needs will send the junior back once more accompanied by four other Eagle athletes for the 121st Penn Relays in Philadelphia, Pa. on April 28-30.
"This meet is one of the biggest and the best. If you go to the Penn Relays, you go with the mindset that it is one of the premiere competitions for track and field in all of the United States," Needs said. "You are going to have to bring your very best to succeed. It may be in the rain or in the wind and so you can't let the conditions control the outcome. "
The first-ever Penn relays were held on April 21, 1895 and it is the longest uninterrupted collegiate track and field meet in the country, as well as being one of the largest. Athletes will be competing from a wide range of backgrounds including those from their middle school years all the way through college and as Olympic hopefuls.
Division I programs such as Oregon and the University of Tennessee will be present as well as South Atlantic Conference foe Queens (N.C.) from the Division II sector.
Last year, Davis was the lone C-N representative as the then sophomore finished fifth in the men's long jump with a mark of 7.27 meters in the event. The jumper was the highest-placing Division II athlete and also finished ahead of multiple Division I participants including a few from the Southeastern Conference.
Davis's provisionally qualification a year ago came in the first year Carson-Newman ever sent an athlete to compete in the Penn Relays. This season, Davis has placed a season-high mark of 7.09 meters in the event at the South Atlantic Conference Track and Field Championships on April 15.
Competing alongside Davis in the men's long jump will be freshman Timontrez Eady (Duval County, Fla.). Eady's person-best in the event from the outdoor season also came at the SAC Championships with a leap of 6.90 meters.
Tiana Mills (Chattanooga, Tenn.) will be the lone woman representative from Carson-Newman's club at the 121st Penn Relays. The junior will be competing in both women's long and triple jumps on the weekend. Mills's top-marks on the season came at the Power Sox Invitational on March 19 in the triple jump following an 11.54 meter leap and at the SAC Championships in the long jump with a 5.31 meter mark.
Sophomore high jumper Tanner Stepp (Jefferson City, Tenn.) has also qualified to be a part of 2016's Penn Relays. The two-time All-American and three-time Southeast Region selection has matched the 2.11 meter mark two times in the outdoor season. Stepp first met the height on March 19 at the Power Sox Invitational and then again later in the season at the SAC Championships on April 19.
Kevin Snead (Richmond, Va.) will be the final Eagle athlete to compete in the prestigious meet. Snead will take part in both the men's 100 and 200 meter dashes on the weekend and is coming off two third-place finishes in both at the Jesse Owens Track & Field Classic last weekend on April 23.
The sprinter's 20.17 second time in the 200 meter dash extended his own school record in the event and is currently sixth in Division II. Snead's personal-best and school record time of 10.33 seconds in the 100 meter dash set on April 9 at the Aggie Invitational stands as the fourth-fastest time in the Division.
"One of the things with Kevin, and with all of them in fact, is that they tend to get better when they compete against great people," Needs said. "This is an important who's who in track and field and a great experience. This is the real deal. Kevin has excelled in this format this year and when he has a chance to run against the best, he does well. We are hoping that everyone else will take this experience and do well with it."
A full recap following the conclusion of the Penn Relays can be found at cneagles.com and live updates on all five of Carson-Newman's athletes throughout the weekend can be found on Twitter at @CN_Track.