By Jonathan Caudle, TTU Sports Information
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Tennessee Tech track and field program opens its 2019-20 indoor season on Friday, Jan. 10 as they head to Birmingham for the Blazer Invitational hosted by the University of Alabama Birmingham at the Birmingham Crossplex. The event will begin at 9 a.m. with the throwing events, followed by the track events at 10:45 a.m. and run throughout the day.
The Golden Eagles are eager to open up the 2019-20 season, which will mark head coach Peter Dalton's track and field debut with the purple and gold.
Along with the Golden Eagles and host Blazers, Friday's field will include Alabama, Auburn, Bethune-Cookeman, Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Jackson State, Lipscomb, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Florida, and Southern Miss.
The 2019 OVC indoor champions enter the new season with a younger roster than they had a year ago. The Golden Eagles feature 11 freshmen, four sophomores, four juniors, and three seniors entering the 2019-20 campaign.
Lisa Wickman and D'Airrien Jackson are the Golden Eagles two returning seniors, along with senior transfer Tieara Norman, who joins the Golden Eagles by way of Fresno State. Wickman finished her indoor season as the OVC runner-up in the 60-meter dash and finished fifth in the 200-meter a year ago. Wickman set the school record for the 60-meter dash during last year's outdoor season with a 7:40 mark during the season opener at the Vanderbilt Invitational. Jackson claimed the OVC championship in the 400-meter and finished seventh in the 200-meter dash a year ago during the indoor season.
The Golden Eagles return three of the OVC indoor 4x400-meter relay champions from last season in Ceirra Tate, Wickham, and Jackson. Although, Jackson will only compete for the Golden Eagles during the outdoor season, having only competed in indoor track and field during the 2019 season.
Juniors Tate and Teauna Anderson continue the Golden Eagles depth in the sprints. Tate returns following a season in which she finished sixth in the OVC in the 60-meter dash during the indoor season, and third in the 400-meter, in addition to fourth in the 200-meter in the outdoor season. Anderson finished ninth in the 100-meter and 17th in the 200-meter during last year's outdoor season, before helping the Golden Eagles to a fourth-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay and a pair of 19th-place finishes in the 100-meters and 200-meters during outdoor competition. Junior Courtney McCowan returns upperclassman distance experience after posting a 26th-place finish in the indoor 800-meter and a career-best during last season's outdoor 800-meter during the OVC outdoor championships, finishing 22nd.
In the distance events, Tech's primary returner is sophomore Sharon Chepkemboi. Chepkemboi had an important impact during her freshman season last year, turning in an 11-place finish in the 3,000-meter run during the OVC indoor championships, before claiming sixth in the 10,000-meter and 10th in the 3,000-meter steeplechase during the outdoor season.
In the field events, Keyanna Word brings back experience for Tech after claiming 22nd during the indoor season in the shot put.
The Golden Eagles will take two weeks off following the Blazer Invitational before making the trek to Johnson City to compete in at the in-state Buccaneer Invitational, hosted by East Tennessee State, on Friday, Jan. 31.
Photo by TTU Sports Information