The Clemson men’s track and field program enjoyed another banner year as the Tigers began the track and field season claiming the ACC title and a tenth-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
They continued their dominance in the outdoor season, winning the 2000 ACC outdoor crown and ending the season tenth in the nation. The Tigers had 17 different athletes named to the All-ACC teams, won three individual championships at the ACC indoor meet, and then claimed eight individual championships at the ACC outdoor meet.
At the NCAA Championships, the Tigers claimed three individual national titles and an American record. Clemson will also send five Tigers to the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
Bob Pollock, the Tiger’s head coach since 1988, has been named ACC Coach of the Year 17 times, more than any other coach in Clemson history. Pollock, along with second-year assistant coaches Charles Foster and Jarrett Foster are looking to continue their ACC dominance and national competitiveness.
The nucleus of this year’s cross country team will be comprised of three top returners from last year’s team that finished fifth in the ACC and eighth in the Southeast region. Leading the squad will be sophomore Jason Meany, who finished ninth at the 1999 ACC Championships, earning All-ACC honors. Fellow sophomore Scott Shaw should also figure in as a top-three runner after consistently finishing in the top five last year. Junior B.J. Dillard returns as the most experienced team member. He had one of his best outings of the year at the Southeast Regional, finishing 54th in 31:56 over the challenging 10,000m course. Sophomore Mike Connelly will contend for a top position on the team.
Six newcomers, including two of the most highly recruited athletes in the state, will challenge the returning runners. David Adams, from Bluffton, SC, was selected as the Gatorade Athlete of the Year after he ran the fastest 5,000m time (14:37) in state history in 1999. Derrick Wyatt, from Liberty, is a three-time South Carolina state champion and ran a 15:00 in the 5,000m. Both of these runners will add not only depth but quality as they compete for a spot in the top five.
Joe Harris, Ryan Fenton, and Mike Barton also come to Clemson with strong high school qualifications. Harris, from Ft. Myers, was the Florida state cross country runner up, while Barton and Fenton, who are both from Portland, ME, were state cross country runner up’s in their respective classification. Nick Luden, from Northeast, PA, has shown a great deal of promise and will also contend for a top seven position.
“This is a young squad that should be fun to work with. The freshmen have a great opportunity to contribute immediately at a major university with a rich tradition,” Pollock said. “I am excited about our team as they will be a surprise before the season’s end. No one will expect much from us because of our youth. It will be up to the team to decide to step up and control their own destiny.”
The indoor and outdoor distance events will be led by Jason Meany who earned All-ACC honors in the 10,000m and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 5,000m last year. The Tigers will be young but talented as freshman David Adams enters Clemson having run one of the top times in the nation at 3,200m (8:57). Sophomore Scott Shaw will add quality and depth along with three state champion freshmen in Ryan Fenton, Joe Harris and Nick Luden.
Youth will again have an opportunity to make an impact on the team in the middle distance events. “There will be a good mix of young talent coupled with tested veterans. I expect our newcomers to challenge our returners and push them to a higher level,” Pollock said.
Juniors Mike Connelly and Fred Sharpe along with sophomore Marcus Hodge are expected to lead the Tigers in the middle distance events. “These guys had top showings last year and should be our leaders this year. They have experience and a good deal of potential,” Pollock said. Sharpe was the 800m indoor champion last year while Connelly finished third in the 800m at the ACC indoor and outdoor championships. Hodge consistently finished in the top three for Clemson in the 800m. Sophomore Garrick Copes ran a personal best of 1:53 last year, and will compete in the 400m and 800m again this year.
Clemson will have several talented newcomers to add depth and quality. Derrick Wyatt, a freshman from Liberty, SC, is a ten-time state track champion in the 800m and 1600m events while fellow freshmen Mike Barton from Portland, ME, and Joel Thiry from Stevens, PA, were state champion and finished third in the state, respectively.
The Tigers lost two of their most decorated athletes ever in Shawn Crawford and Charles Allen, but are looking to a talented group of returners and some outstanding freshmen to fill those voids. Crawford is an 11-time All-American and the most decorated athlete in Clemson history and the American indoor record holder at 200m. Allen is a five-time All-American who will compete in the 110m hurdles at the Olympic Games. “We will miss Shawn and Charles because of the impact they had on the team, and their strong competitiveness.”
Pollock feels like the talent of the incoming freshmen combined with the experience of the upperclassmen will produce a great quality team with depth from top to bottom. “Last year, our athletes competed against the top 15 teams in the nation. They saw the best and what it takes to be the best. They rose to the occasion last year and that experience should carry over to this year as well.”
Junior four-time All-American Ato Modibo will lead the veterans. Modibo, the NCAA indoor 400m champion and anchor of the national 4x400m relay team, will compete in both of those events at the en’s Olympic Games.
Joining Modibo is a trio of sophomores in David Collins, Otto Spain, and Jacey Harper. Spain, who qualified in the 400m and was a member of the 4x400m relay team for the USA Junior National team, will compete in Santiago, Chile, in October. Collins finished second at the ACC’s as a freshman and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 60m dash. Harper was All-ACC in the outdoor 100m and a member of the ACC champion 4x100m relay team, and will participate in the Olympics in the 4x100m relay.
Pollock is looking for freshmen Roland Burks, Terrance Huey and Dwight Thomas to step in and contribute in the team’s success. Thomas, from Burtonsville, MD, was the most highly recruited sprinter, as he led the nation in the 100m and 200m in high school. He was the 1999 Pan American Junior champion in the 100 and 200m, and is a member of Jamaica’s 2000 Olympic team. Burks, from Southfield, MI, was an all-state selection and has posted competitive times in the 60m dash, 100m, and 200m events. Huey, a football signee at Clemson, was a Georgia state track champion in the 100m and 200m dashes.
Senior ACC Champion and All-American Sultan Tucker returns in the 60m and 110m hurdles to lead a strong group of performers. Tucker won the ACC in the 60m hurdles, tying the ACC record with a time of 7.79, and was All-ACC in the 110m after finishing second in the ACC outdoor meet.
Pollock also expects junior All-American Todd Matthews to continue his success after winning the ACC Championship in the 110m hurdles outdoor and earning All-American honors at the outdoor NCAA Championships. “I expect Tucker and Matthews to step up and continue to do great things. They are both excellent technicians with solid work ethics,” said Pollock.
Junior Fred Sharpe was the ACC champion in the 800m indoors and in the 400m hurdles outdoors. Sharpe qualified for the NCAA Championships and earned All-American honors in the 400m hurdles as a sophomore.
Senior Tony Washington and transfer freshman Ryan Davis will add depth to the Tigers in the hurdles. Washington is a versatile athlete to run the 110m and 400m hurdles, while Davis will add depth in the 110m hurdles and shuttle hurdle relay.
The Tigers expect to have consistently strong showings in the jumps with the return of their leaders from last year. Junior Doug Ameigh will once again be at the core of the high jumpers. The ACC champion and NCAA indoor qualifier has shown great consistency in the last two years.
Pollock was pleased to see sophomore Malcolm Reynolds challenge Ameigh as Reynolds claimed the ACC outdoor championship and placed third at the USA Junior Nationals this summer. Reynolds recorded the best jump in the ACC last year with a mark of 7’11/2″. Senior Tony Lloyd returns to add depth to the team in the high jump, along with freshman Bryant Howe from Cottage Grove, MN.
Junior Kai Maull will be Clemson’s mainstay in the long jump and triple jump after garnering All-American honors as a freshman and All-ACC honors last year. He finished second overall at the ACC championships in the long jump, with a personal best of 25’71/4″ in the long jump and 50’21/2″ in the triple jump.
Tony Lloyd, who earned ACC honors in the triple jump (50’91/2″), is a solid utility type jumper for the Tigers, and is expected to post high numbers for Clemson this year. Junior Todd Matthews along with freshmen Brit Barrow and Terrance Huey will provide quality and depth for the Tigers. Matthews has collegiate experience while Barrow was the Georgia state runner up in the triple jump and long jump. Huey is another Georgia native, and was the state track champion in the long jump (24’61/2″).
Ryan Lewis and Ben Hess will lead the Tigers in the pole vault. “Both Ryan and Ben are tough competitors with strong work ethics. They work well together and will serve as a one-two punch for us,” said Pollock. Lewis was the outdoor ACC champion with a personal best of 16’83/4″, while Hess has vaulted 16’83/4″ and is a top contender in the ACC.
Senior Andy Giesler will add depth to the Tiger vaulters, along with a trio of freshmen who will add more quality to this traditionally strong event. Eddie McNicholas was a two-time Florida state track champion (15’0″), while Chris Stark was a two-time Maryland state track champion (15’1″). Sam West will also be in the mix with his personal best of 15’1″.
Andy Giesler leads the list of throwers for Clemson this year as he will compete in the shot put while Brett Varner returns after a solid freshman campaign in the hammer event.
Redshirts David Schenek and Matt Lombardi will add depth in the discus and shot put respectively, as will freshman Colton Hodge, the brother of Marcus Hodge. “Schenek and Lombardi both enjoyed successful high school careers and gained valuable experience last year,” said Pollock. Schenek earned All-American honors at the USA Junior National meet in the hammer throw. Both Schenek and Hodge were invited as top throwers in the country to the USA Olympic Throws Clinic in San Diego, CA.
Senior Andy Giesler will be the top decathlete for the Tigers after winning the ACC outdoor decathlon, having a personal best of 7,348 points, and garnering All-ACC honors last year. “Andy had a good year last year having competed at the NCAA Championships and we are looking forward to watching him build on that success,” Pollock said.
Freshman Ryan Davis, Chris Sandbach, and redshirt freshman Rick Hill will provide depth in the decathlon. “Rick had an opportunity to learn a lot last year, and he will show us what he is capable of this year,” Pollock said. Davis, who is a solid utility athlete, is a transfer from Southern Connecticut State University and competed in the pentathlon in high school (3,400 points). Sandbach, from Longmont, CO, was the state track champion in the pentathlon (3,211 points) and decathlon (5,786 points).
“We have a lot of youth on this team, but we also have some very experienced, seasoned veterans,” said Pollock. “I am excited about what our returning athletes accomplished last year and I am looking forward to seeing what our new Tigers can accomplish. Our team will build on the success at the ACC’s and continue to be top contenders at the national level.”
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