Oct. 6, 1999
CLEMSON, S.C. – The 1998-99 season proved to be another successful year for the Clemson men’s track and field program.
The team won its third-straight ACC indoor title, then placed third at the NCAA Championships behind the national championships of then-freshman Ato Modibo in the 400m and the 4x400m relay team of Charles Allen, Kenny Franklin, Davidson Gill and Modibo.
In the outdoor season Clemson was the runner-up in the ACC, then placed 19th at the national championships. The team set a new Clemson record with 12 All-Americans. Between the indoor and outdoor seasons, Clemson earned 19 All-American awards.
Under the direction of head coach Bob Pollock, now in his 12th year at Clemson, and first year assistant coaches Charles Foster and Jarrett Foster, the team is looking to build on the foundation that has been laid over the last several years. “We want to be competitive not only at the ACC level, but also at the national level, because it is ultimately our goal to be contenders for a national title,” said Pollock. “ACC Championships are very important, but so are national championships.”
XC/Distance With the departure of seniors Joe Gibson and Esteban Diaz , the front runners on last year’s cross country team, this season’s team will be a young one, with senior Steve Alexander surrounded by a group of freshmen and sophomores. “We’re looking for Alexander to provide leadership and direction as a senior,” said Pollock. Alexander ran in the sixth position last season, but Pollock expects him to be among the Tigers’ top four distance runners this year.
Jason Meany will lead the returning sophomores. He was Clemson’s number three runner last season and is leading the team this year. Sophomores Ryan Demers and B.J. Dillard will complete the Tigers’ top four distance runners. “These three sophomores, along with Alexander, give us four good, solid individuals returning,” said Pollock.
Sophomore Clay Wiggins is expected to run in the fifth position. “Wiggins is in very good shape,” said Pollock. “He did a good job over the summer and worked really hard.”
Freshman Scott Shaw and redshirt freshmen Everett Ernst and Mike Connelly have an opportunity to run in the Tigers’ top seven runners, while sophomore David Abel and freshman Peter Lukens are making good strides to get in the top eight.
The team finished third at the ACC Championships last year and was fifth at the region meet. “Obviously, it is our goal to improve upon last year’s finishes,” said Pollock. “We’re relying on freshmen and sophomores as our nucleus, but I think our time span between our one and five man has gotten a lot closer. This group wants to be successful. They realize it’s an opportunity for them, as young as they are, to lay a good, solid foundation for the future of Clemson cross country.”
Meany, Wiggins, Alexander, Shaw and Dillard are expected to lead the team in the longer distance events throughout the indoor and outdoor seasons as well.
Middle Distance Pollock is looking for several middle distance runners to fill the void left by the departure of senior Davidson Gill, a five-time All-American for the Tigers. Senior Shaun Murphy and Connelly, who is a sophomore in track, will be the top middle distance runners for the Tigers this season and will compete in the 800m. Connelly ran the lead-off leg the distance medley relay indoors last season, and Murphy ran on the 4x400m at times. Sophomore Ryan Demers will compete in the mile and 3000m, after placing seventh in the mile at the ACC Indoor Championships last season. Two freshmen will complete Clemson’s middle distance group.
Marcus Hodge of Spartanburg, SC, was the National Junior Olympic Champion in the 800m at 1:52.74. He also has experience running the 2000m steeplechase, but Pollock believes he will be an 800m to 1500m runner for the Tigers. Garrick Copes of Fort Belvoir, VA, had the second-fastest time in the country in the 500m indoors last year. “Copes is a very good half miler,” said Pollock. “He will compete in the 400m and 800m for us this season.”
Sprints Sophomore Ato Modibo, the defending indoor national champion in the 400m with a time of 46.11, is expected to lead Clemson’s sprinters again this season. Modibo was chosen ACC Freshman of the Year Indoors and Outdoors last season after winning the 400m at both league championship meets. Modibo and Charles Allen return off the Tigers’ 4x400m relay team that won the national championship with a time of 3:07.80 at last year’s NCAA Indoor meet. Allen, a senior, will compete in the 100m and 200m and on Clemson’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams.
Seven-time All-American Shawn Crawford, the 1998 indoor national champion in the 200m, returns in the sprints and relays, as well as sophomore Anthony Moorman. “Moorman did a tremendous job as a freshman last year, earning All-American honors in the 4x400m outdoors,” said Pollock. “He is a big scorer in the 100m and 200m and is also very strong in the 400m.” Pollock is looking for freshmen David Collins and Otto Spain to step into the position vacated by senior sprinter Kenny Franklin.
“We are going to miss Franklin,” he said. “He is an outstanding individual.” Collins, of Philadelphia, PA, won state championships in the 100m (10.62) and 200m (21.44) as a high school senior last year. Spain, of Columbia, SC, was the state champion with a time of 10.33 in the 100m and has a personal-best of 21.46 in the 200m. “I think these runners are going to add quality and depth to an already very strong nucleus of sprinters that we have here at Clemson,” said Pollock.
Hurdles Junior All-American Sultan Tucker returns in the 60m and 110m hurdles. Tucker won the ACC Championship in both events last season and qualified for the national championships during the indoor and outdoor seasons.
“Tucker is complemented very well by sophomore Todd Matthews,” said Pollock. Matthews placed third with a time of 7.91 in the 60m hurdles at the ACC indoor meet last season and was second at 13.88 in the 110m hurdles at the league outdoor championships. He ran NCAA provisional times in both events as a freshman.
Sophomore Ian Potter joined the team in January last year. He placed sixth with a time of 14.29 in the 110m hurdles at the outdoor meet. “Potter came in at mid-term and really did a great job for us during the outdoor season,” said Pollock. Junior Tony Washington will compete in the 400m hurdles and the sprints for the Tigers.
“Washington will be a good contributor in the 400m outdoors,” said Pollock. “He also will run a leg of either the distance medley relay or the 4x400m.” Decathlete Mark Jellison will complete the Clemson high hurdle group and will run on the Tigers’ shuttle hurdle relay team.
Jumps Sophomore Doug Ameigh returns in the high jump after winning the ACC indoor (7’1″) and outdoor championships (7’1″) and reaching an NCAA provisional mark as a freshman last year. Senior Bryan Williams also returns in the event after placing third indoors with a mark of 6’10” and second outdoors after clearing 7’1″ on a later jump than Ameigh. The two are complemented by sophomore Mark Mirabito, who placed fourth at both the ACC Indoor and Outdoor Championships last year.
Kevin Wald and Tony Lloyd are expected to provide depth in the high jump for the Tigers, as well as freshmen Malcolm Reynolds of Lexington Park, MD, the state champion who has cleared 6’10”, and Grant Jones of Gahanna, OH, who has a personal-best of 6’8″.
Sophomore Kai Maull returns in the long and triple jump. He was the only freshman All-American in the long jump competition at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championship after recording a mark of . Lloyd and Williams also return in the long jump for the Tigers, and Matthews and Jellison, who have each jumped over 24′ in the long jump, will provide additional depth for the team in the event.
Williams, a senior, is the leading returner in the triple jump. He won the ACC Indoor Championship and set a Clemson record with a mark of 52’5″ to qualify for the national championships last season.
“We really have some good depth in the triple jump, with Williams, Maull and Lloyd,” said Pollock. Lloyd placed third at the conference indoor meet at 50’3/4″ and eighth outdoors, while Maull placed fifth at the conference outdoor meet with a jump of 48’4″.
Clemson has added more depth in the pole vault this season. Junior Ben Hess is the top returning vaulter after placing fourth at both the conference indoor and outdoor meets last season and recording a personal-best of 16’6 3/4″. Hess will be joined by two transfers. Ryan Lewis, a transfer from Western Carolina who has cleared 16’4 3/4″, was the 1999 Southern Conference champion and a Junior National All-American in the event. Matt Kennedy is a transfer from East Tennessee State who has cleared 15’6″. Freshman Adam Klotzback, the Ohio state runner-up with a vault of 15′ and junior Bobby Latham will provide additional depth for the team in the event.
Throws The Clemson throwers will be a young group, led by sophomore Keith Rzewuski. “Rzewuski did a great job last year as a freshman,” said Pollock. “He did a good job last year in the outdoor hammer, discus and shot, and did the same thing indoors.”
Brett Varner and Jason Moss return after redshirting last year. “Both have gotten stronger and quicker, and hopefully they are going to add to our throws as well,” said Pollock. Junior Rob VanWagenin returns for the team in the javelin and will add depth in the throws. Freshman David Schenek of Marietta, GA, was a high school All-American in the discus at 175’4″ and also in the 25 lb. weight indoors. Last season he ranked tenth in the country with a throw of 194’10” in the hammer. Matt Lombardi of Seekonk, MA, was the state runner up in both the shot and discus last year.
Multi-events Sophomore Mark Jellison was the runner up with 6620 points in the decathlon at the ACC Outdoor Championships as a freshman last season.
“This season he is much more mature, more developed, has more knowledge of the events,” said Pollock. Senior Ron Kennedy placed fifth with 6045 points at last year’s conference championships. Andy Giesler, a transfer from Wheeling Jesuit (WV), scored 6995 points in the decathlon last season.
“These athletes, along with freshman Rick Hill will give us good depth in the decathlon this season,” said Pollock. “Hill has shown us he has the potential to contribute in the decathlon.”
Overall Pollock believes the team has added more depth and quality this season into every event, from the sprints to the distance events, from the jumps to the throws.
“Hopefully, these athletes will develop like our freshmen did last year and be able to rise to the occasion to compete not only in the ACC, but on a national level, too,” he said.
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