The track and field season will begin on Jan. 12 at the UAB Blazer Invite in Birmingham, Alabama. The Panthers look to improve upon last season, finishing in sixth place in the Sun Belt indoor championship.
Of those returning for another season of Panther track and field is Brianna Archer, a senior who helped Georgia State finish second place in the 4x400m relay in the championship. Archer, along with another returning junior Jahmee Reeves, Tyler Watson and Sydney Davis ran the relay in 3:46:00, third best in Georgia State history.
The Panthers set more history in the shot put with Alysiah Whittaker, who threw 16.03m in the Sun Belt championship and recorded Georgia State’s third best distance in school history. Returning sophomore, Angela Alonso recorded history herself running the mile. She finished the mile in 4:56:22 and finished fourth at the Sun Belt championship. Alonso’s time became the third best time in Panther history.
Moving on without proven stars
With players like Whittaker and LaPorscha Wells who both represented Georgia State in the NCAA track championships in 2017 not returning, the Panthers look to add new firepower with six new freshmen coming in. Of those six freshmen, two are doing shot put, three are running distance and one competes in sprints and long jump.
However, with the return of Archer and other record breaking members on the team, experience may not be a huge concern. Most athletes have been at Georgia State longer than new assistant coach Kyle Stevenson.
Last year in the UAB Blazer Invitational, returning sophomore Alonso finished fourth in the mile run with a 5:08:14 time. Melanie Hamilt, the returning senior from Peachtree City, finished fifth in the 5,000m run with a time of 18:58:81.
However, Wells stole the show with her distance in the weight throw. Wells would go on to throw 15.27m and earn first place honors. Wells reign would not end there as she also set a new record in Georgia State history with her 21.06m throw in the weight throw.
Tracy Dorcemont participated in the weight throw as well and finished seventh place Long jump participant, Ashlan Rosier jumped 5.64m for third place in the UAB Blazer.
Who will step up?
With All-American Wells not returning to the team, the Panthers’ track and field team looks for another crop of players to leave their stamp on Georgia athletics. There are plenty of choices to think of when you try to figure out who is next in line.
First is Alonso, the mid-distance runner who was named to the All-Sun Belt team in 2016 and finished ninth place in cross country at the Sun Belt championships. Another candidate is Rosier, the returning senior who finished third in the 4x400m relay at the 2016 indoor and outdoor Sun Belt championships.
In 2015, Rosier was named All-Sun Belt Conference third team in the outdoor championships. Rosier also has an intensive resume by being a participant in the Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Invitational, the Tiger Track Classic and winning the 4x100m in the Western Carolina University T&F Invitational.
Youth and experience
Next is Tyler Watson, another returning senior that also has quite the resume when bringing up potential stars for Georgia State. Watson ran the 400m in the 2016 Western Carolina University T&F Invitational and won with a 1:00:83 time. She also ran the 4x400m and won with a 3:46:04 time in the same competition. These returning members are only a portion of who can give more life to the track and field team.
A new set of shot put and weight throw members shall emerge with Wells and Whittaker gone. The two freshmen are Cody Chandler, who was second in the state of Georgia in shot put and fifth in the state for disc and Lana Fulcher, a British-born track member who came to Georgia State in 2017.
Also are returning athletes, Rashell Reid and Airian Riddick. Airian Riddick, a returning sophomore, will also look to get her first major start come Jan. 12 when the UAB Blazer Invitational begins.
After the indoor championships, the outdoor events begin immediately after. The season has yet to start, but it seems very promising for the Panthers. Mixing young, new talent with experienced and accomplished members is a recipe for success.
With a lot of returning sophomores, juniors and seniors, the freshmen can pick up quickly from them and learn a lot. A huge boost for the track and field team is the new transfers such as Gabby Irving and Reid that Georgia State has acquired.
With time and energy invested, the Panthers may see all the things above this season with coach Stevenson. Track and field season kicks off this weekend in Birmingham, Alabama at the Vulcan Invite. The Vulcan Invite begins Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and wraps up Sunday.
Last Season Feats
- Jordan Townsley had two top 10 finishes at the Vulcan Invite
- Re’Breekia Harrison won the Triple Jump at two meets
- Lauren Sims broke the school record in Javelin Throw with 39.51m
- Outdoor track & field won the Emory Classic with nine first-place finishes
- Sims won the Javelin Throw at two outdoor meets
- Ashlan Rosier first in Long Jump at Catamount Classic (5.73m)
- Rashell Reid threw a personal best (54.88) in the Hammer Throw in Atlanta