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Kelly Hodge

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Bucs' cross country in ‘Chase’ for title

September 25th, 2013 8:36 pm by Kelly Hodge

Bucs' cross country in ‘Chase’ for title

East Tennessee State’s Adam Chase is a champion in the steeplechase and an academic All-American.
He’s turning into a pretty good cross country runner, too.
The junior from Kingsport finished third in a meet at Virginia Tech last week and was named Atlantic Sun Conference runner of the week on Wednesday. In the Bucs’ first outing of the fall, he was 17th in a field of 168 at the Vanderbilt Invitational.
ETSU coach George Watts says Chase, who won the conference steeplechase last spring, has been putting in about 95 miles a week on the roads during this peak training period and should only get better as the cross country season progresses. He already knows the kid is smart; Chase carried a 4.0 grade-point average through the spring while majoring in math.
“Going back to the spring, Adam setting a meet record in the steeplechase, it opened his eyes that he can do bigger things running,” said Watts. “He’s come back very motivated this fall.”
Chase and the Bucs are ranked ninth in the NCAA South Region this week and working to meet expectations. They were the preseason pick in the A-Sun, and so far have finished third at Vandy and won in a limited field at Virginia Tech.
The conference meet is Nov. 2 in Nashville.
“It looks like a battle between us and Lipscomb, based on how the rest of the conference is competing,” said Watts, in his second year at ETSU. “I told the kids at the end of the spring that we’d probably be the favorites going into the season, that it would be their championship to win or lose and they need to do the training prescribed to them over the summer.
“Nothing is a given, but I think we’ve improved greatly on the men’s side and the women’s side.”
Watts is still trying to build depth on the women’s team but is getting quality performances at the top of his lineup.
Sophomore Katie Hirko won the Virginia Tech race with a career-best run of 21:32.90 in the 6K. She burst on the scene last fall as freshman of the year in the conference, with four top-10 runs in five events.
“She struggled the second half of the summer with training,” said Watts, “but she’s just so smooth and relaxed now. It took a couple of weeks to get back in the groove, and she’s seen she can accomplish a whole lot more.
“We just need to get more women out to begin with. You always want to have somebody pushing the person in front of them and competition within the team as long as it’s healthy.”
Both ETSU teams will run again Oct. 5 at the Greater Louisville Classic, then return to Boone, N.C., for the Blue Ridge Open two weeks later.
“We ran both those meets last year, so it gives us an opportunity to see where we are now versus then,” said Watts.
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The women’s soccer team saw its four-match unbeaten streak come to an end Sunday with a 1-0 loss to Tennessee Tech.
The Lady Bucs (4-4-1) peppered the Golden Eagles’ goalkeeper with 19 shots, including three that hit the crossbar, but couldn’t get one past her. A goal by Tech in the third minute ultimately stood up.
The loss was the first in four home matches for the Lady Bucs, who are in the middle of a five-match homestand. They begin conference play Saturday night against USC Upstate, and Mercer and Kennesaw State will be in town next weekend.
The Lady Bucs are currently without some of their best midfield talent. Sophomore Sarah Zadrazil and freshman Jenny Poltl are playing with the Austrian national team that is involved in World Cup qualifying, while freshman Thomai Verdali is playing with the Greece U19 national team.
Zadrazil led the Lady Bucs in assists as a freshman and is their leading scorer this season.
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Clinton Freeman appears to be in fine form on the baseball diamond this fall.
The senior first baseman/pitcher from Jonesborough made his presence felt in the Blue-White scrimmages last weekend at Thomas Stadium. Freeman struck out eight consecutive batters and at the plate went 4-for-10 with a home run.
Sophomore outfielder Jeremy Taylor batted 6-for-10 and scored three runs, upping his fall average to .667. Freshman Gage Downey batted 6-for-9 and scored four runs, while sophomore Trey York went 5-for-8 with three runs scored.
The scrimmages continue Friday at 3, with another set for Sunday at 1. They are free and open to the public.
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The ETSU baseball staff will host its Elite Prospect Camp on Saturday at Thomas Stadium.
The camp is open to players in grades 8 through 12 and designed to evaluate and instruct potential Division I college prospects. Included will be pro-style workouts and seminars on strength and conditioning, and compliance and academics.
The camp runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with registration at 8 o’clock, and costs $95 per player. For more information, contact ETSU pitching coach Kyle Bunn at bunnks@etsu.edu.
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There are still reservations available for the “Holding Court” event with Jay Bilas on Oct. 8.
Mike White, ETSU’s associate athletic director for communications, said Wednesday that about 100 reservations had been made for the basketball evening at the Carnegie Hotel, with a target of 160.
Bilas, the brainy ESPN analyst who played at Duke, will host the gathering and be joined in the Grand Soldiers Ballroom by special guests Les Robinson, Sonny Smith and Bobby Cremins. Three current head coaches — John Calipari (Kentucky), Steve Alford (UCLA) and Mark Few (Gonzaga) — will join the conversation via video conferencing.
The cost of the event, presented by Johnson City Honda, is $100 and includes a cocktail buffet. To reserve a seat, call (423) 439-8398 or visit etsubucs.com.

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