Track & Field begins indoor season

Teams host MT Christmas Invitational

December 9, 2011 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- The Middle Tennessee track & field teams will begin their 2011-12 indoor season when they host the MT Christmas Invitational on Saturday at the Murphy Center.

The Blue Raiders will welcome Lipscomb, Tennessee State and Western Kentucky to Murfreesboro for the four-team competition. The meet is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. CST

“This meet is a good way to begin the indoor season,” said track & field head coach Dean Hayes. “It gives our student-athletes something to look forward to after training all fall. It will also provide us with a chance to see where we stand and where we need to improve heading into the spring.”

Hayes returns for his 47th season to lead the Blue Raiders. He has guided the men’s program to 16 indoor conference championships while leading the women to nine league titles during his tenure. Last season, the Blue Raider men claimed the Sun Belt indoor conference championship while the women’s squad placed fourth.

Middle Tennessee’s men will be aided this season by the return of several key contributors from last year’s squad. Junior Noah Akwu earned All-America status in the 200 meters a season ago when he placed sixth at the NCAA Championships with a time of 20.86 seconds. He also claimed victory at the Sun Belt Championships in both the 200 meters and 400 meters to help guide the men to the league title.

Justus David will look to follow up his historic cross country campaign with another great indoor season. David, the 2011 Sun Belt Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, culminated a stellar first season in Murfreesboro by winning the league title in the 3,000 meters, 5,000 meters and mile competition. The Kitui, Kenya, product also set a Middle Tennessee school record in the 3,000 meters when he clocked an 8:06.95 at the GVSU Big Meet on Feb. 11.

Sophomores Kenneth Gilstrap and Steven Palmer will look to continue where they left off last year. Gilstrap capped his freshman indoor season by winning a share of the Sun Belt Championship in the 55-meter dash. Meanwhile Palmer placed second in the 400 meters at the conference meet following running an indoor personal best of 47.95 seconds at the MT Valentine Invitational earlier in the season. Palmer was also part of the Sun Belt Champion 4x400-meter relay team with Akwu, Robert Carter and Nathaniel Moore. Carter is the only of the foursome who does not return this year.

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The Blue Raider women will be led by a trio of junior jumpers. Ann Dudley returns following an excellent indoor season in 2010-11. The Jacksonville, Fla., native won the Sun Belt title in the high jump competition, clearing the bar at 5 feet, 7 inches. She also posted a school record and indoor personal best in the event when she jumped a 5-11.25 at the Ed Temple Classic.

Meanwhile Kiara Henry and Nyeisha Wright each set indoor personal bests in the long jump competition last season when the pair jumped equivalent distances of 20 feet, 1 inch. Wright posted the mark at the MT Christmas Invitational while Henry accomplished the feat at the Sun Belt Championships.

The women’s squad will also be bolstered by the addition of several talented newcomers headed by Lucy Kapkiai. The Eldoret, Kenya, product will attempt to follow up her superb cross country season with similar results in the indoor season.

Live stats of Saturday’s meet can be followed here.

Results of the meet will be posted on the teams’ Facebook and Twitter pages as soon as they become available. A full recap and results will be available on GoBlueRaiders.com on Saturday evening.

Follow the Blue Raider track & field teams on Twitter @MTTrackField and on Facebook at the MT Track & Field page. Also, stay up-to-date on the teams on the new Track & Field Notebook, which can be found here as well as linked on the Track & Field page on GoBlueRaiders.com.

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