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Track Gears Up for Big Weekend

Track Gears Up for Big Weekend

By Philip Sikes, Athletic Communications

Indoor track season is just getting ramped up, and yet this weekend will be the final opportunity for fans to see Clemson’s nationally-competitive men and women compete at home. The Tigers host a number of schools, as well as unattached athletes, former Clemson greats and a wealth of decorated professionals on Friday and Saturday at the Bob Pollock Classic. Admission is free all weekend.

Mark Elliott’s teams are coming off consecutive away meets in Blacksburg, Va., and Lexington, Ky. The third-year head coach is excited simply to keep his squads at home and continue building toward the pinnacle of indoor season in February and March.

“It helps us get off the road a little bit,” he said. “The collective effort of our two teams has not truly been showcased; we’re hopeful to display more of that at Texas A&M and Arkansas as we lead up to the conference meet.”

While he may not show his team at full strength across all the many events that track & field offers this weekend, Elliott is quick to point out some of the top events and athletes that should attract fans on Friday and Saturday.

The men’s 60 features a loaded field, led by former Clemson great and 2012 Olympian Warren Fraser. He will compete against former rivals Kemar Hyman, who competed at Florida State, and Darrell Wesh, a past Virginia Tech athlete and brother of former Clemson great Marlena Wesh. The field will also include former Mississippi State star and two-time USA Indoor silver medalist D’Angelo Cherry. Clemson senior Tevin Hester will likely be limited due to soreness. He already ranks among the nation’s top 10 in both the 60 and 200.

Other former Clemson men’s standouts slated to compete this weekend are Marcus Maxey in the men’s 60 hurdles and Brunson Miller in the men’s 400. Miller was a former ACC Indoor Champion in the 400 and Maxey earned multiple all-conference honors in the hurdles.

While it isn’t typical to see so many professionals and aspiring professionals competing this early in the year, Elliott credits it to the fact that 2016 is an Olympic year and that the United States is set to host the World Indoor Championships in March.

“Because the U.S. is hosting the World Indoor Championships in in Portland, Oregon, we’ve gotten a lot of interest from quality unattached athletes that will make our meet more competitive,” he said. “We have several professionals slated to compete who are preparing for the World Championships, so that will make our athletes compete even better. They have to get going early, so the indoor meets around the country are filling up. Our sprint and jump runways are popular destinations. We’ll see Olympic medalists and World Champions in the field events. It will be good for fans to come out and see.”

The most decorated athlete set to compete is 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Reese Hoffa in the men’s shot put. Hoffa, who lives in nearby Athens, Ga., was the 2007 World Champion and 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials Champion in the shot. Hoffa actually still holds the Clemson Indoor Facility record with a mark of 69-11 back in 2006. Hoffa’s personal indoor best is 72-6.5. The men’s shot put competition, featuring two current Tigers, is set for Saturday at 1 p.m.

On the women’s side, look for 2015 NCAA 800-meter champion Natoya Goule to open her season in the mile. The adidas runner and current volunteer assistant for the Tigers will lead a large contingent of Clemson athletes in the top section of the event on Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Jillian Weir, a former All-American at the University of Oregon and daughter of Clemson assistant Robert Weir, is scheduled to compete in the weight throw Friday. She is also a volunteer assistant with the program.

Clemson’s team features athletes ranked in the top 25 nationally in 12 different events. Grace Barnett is the highest ranked individual, coming into the weekend with the fifth-fastest mile (4:41.33) this season. Barnett was named ACC Women’s Track Performer of the Week on Tuesday.