Track opens outdoor season at Rhodes

Team trying to get healthy

March 19, 2010 · Christian Lemon

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee track and field teams open outdoor competition at the 2010 Rhodes Invitational in Memphis, Tenn., this weekend as they look to turn the page on an injury plagued indoor campaign.

Middle Tennessee track and field is coming off an unusual indoor season littered with injuries to some of the top Blue Raider athletes. The season ended for the team at the Sun Belt Indoor Championships with the women placing second while the men took fourth. Brittany Cox was the lone Blue Raider athlete to compete at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships.

The most significant injury was to three-time All-American Sarah Nambawa who went down to a season ending knee injury in the beginning of the year. She hopes to return to competition

With both rosters returning to health, the Rhodes Invitational will offer chances for all MT competitors to get used to outdoor events and let the coaching staff begin to determine what the team has as it prepares for conference competition in May.

"This year's indoor season was strange," said head coach Dean Hayes. "We typically do not ever have as many injuries as we did this year. Everyone likes the outdoor season as long as the weather cooperates. Hopefully, we can get all our people healthy by the time conference time comes along.

Last season, the Blue Raiders were very successful in outdoor competition with eight men's athletes and six women's athletes qualifying for the 2010 NCAA Mideast Championships in a total of 14 events.

Four athletes would go on the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Championships with Stanley Gbagbeke and Nambawa each earning All-American honors. Gbagbeke finished second in the nation in the long jump, while Nambawa placed third in the triple jump. Triple jumper Carl Morgan and thrower Cox also qualified for the championships.

Both the men's and women's rosters will return two athletes who did not compete in the indoor season, who have one remaining season of eligibility. Sprinter Greg Franklin will rejoin the men's team, while Ashley Comstock will compete in the middle distance events for the women. Franklin finished third in the 200 meters and fourth in the 100 meters at last year SBC Outdoor Championships. Comstock placed fourth in the 1,500 meters. Both Franklin and Comstock will provide depth in multiple events in 2010.

Full results and coverage for the Rhodes Invitational and all Middle Tennessee track and field meets will be available on GoBlueRaiders.com.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.