By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Seven of the Tennessee Tech track team's most successful runners are this weekend stepping onto the biggest stage of the year so far when they compete in the 72nd annual Pepsi Florida Relays, hosted by the University of Florida track and field program in James G. Pressly Stadium.
"We are really excited about competing in the Florida Relays because it is one of the most prestigious meets in the country," said Golden Eagle head coach Wayne Angel. "It will provide a great opportunity for our athletes as well as give us great exposure in one of the top recruiting states in the country.
"I really feel good about where we are as a team," Angel said. "The kids are highly motivated and on a mission."
Year after year, the Pepsi Florida Relays has been one of the nation's premier track and field events. In addition to the collegiate competition, which features eight men's teams and 10 women's teams ranked in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Computer Rankings, numerous professional clubs, past Olympians and World Champions, and Olympic hopefuls from across the globe will take part in the 2016 edition of the meet.
In total, over 270 college, club, and professional teams and another 330-plus high school teams, amounting to over 4,200 competitors, will run at this year's Pepsi Florida Relays.
For Tech, the list of events includes three relay races plus the 100m, 400m and 800m runs.
Freshman D'Airrien Jackson, who narrowly missed the Olympic Trials qualifying time last week on her way to being named Ohio Valley Conference Athlete of the Week, will run in all three relays – 4x100m, 4x400m and 4x800m – as well as individually in the 800m.
Freshman Na'Asha Robinson, who has already set several school indoor and outdoor records, will be featured in three events. She is part of the 4x400m and 4x100m relays as well as individually in the 400m dash.
Sharnique Leonce, a junior who made her Golden Eagle debut last week at Vanderbilt by competing in seven different events, will run on the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, as well as the 100-meter hurdles individually.
Junior Sarah Brandt and freshman Crystal Liebenberg will each compete in two events. Brandt is on the 4x800m relay and will race in the 800m run.
The other two Golden Eagles in Florida this weekend are sophomore Madison Stremler (4x800m relay) and senior Tiara Hymon (4x100m relay)
" We got a great start at Vanderbilt last week and now we want to keep that positive momentum flowing," Angel said. "Many of our athletes have their first competition under their belt and we are starting to get into the meat of the season.
"These next three to four weeks are going to be critical in determining who is ready to go to the OVC Championships," he said.