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Clemson stands out at ACC Championship

Jacob Thompson

With a respectable third-place finish, the Clemson Tigers finished out the ACC indoor track and field slate on their home track last week as part of the ACC Indoor Championships. Competing at the Clemson Indoor Track and Field Complex on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the Tigers were superb, finishing third in the rigorous competition. 

The Tigers performed well, breaking multiple program records and earning several All-ACC nods en route to a top-three finish. With 76 points, the men’s squad finished third, as did the women’s squad, which collected 73 points and a third-place tie.

The opening day of action saw Clemson stand out in the distance medley relays, with the women taking second place in the competition and setting a new program record. Distance runners Grace Barnett, Fellan Ferguson, Olivia James and Kamryn McIntosh combined to produce a 10:58.63 time, the lowest-recorded time in Clemson women’s track and field history at the ACC Indoor Championships.

The men fared well in the distance medley relay, too, running it in 9:41.02 behind solid showings from Malik Epps, John Lewis, James Quattlebaum and Deonte Tolbert, coming up less than .2 seconds of establishing a new program record. Their time was good enough to earn third place and a place on the podium for the event, though, setting the stage for a highly successful second day of competition.

Riding the momentum of their distance medley relay performances, McIntosh and Ferguson finished in first and second place, respectively, in the women’s 800-meter preliminaries. Several other Tigers ran well in preliminaries on Friday, including men’s middle-distance runner John Lewis, who earned a career-best 1:48.62 in the 800-meter race.

Clemson stood out in the 60-meter hurdles as well. Kirk Lewis won the third heat of the men’s preliminaries with a time of 7.81 seconds, and Markeeta Thomas placed fourth overall in the women’s preliminaries by producing a career-best time of 8.25 seconds. The star of the day for Clemson, however, was standout long jumper Chris McBride, who took home Second-Team All-ACC honors with a fifth-place finish in the long jump finals. McBride leaped 7.5 meters on his fourth jump of the day to earn the All-ACC distinction.

The Tigers finished the ACC meet in style on Saturday, establishing a couple of new conference records and taking first place in a few competitions along the way. Both the men’s and women’s 4 x 400-meter relay units set new ACC conference meet records in the event. On the men’s side, Lewis, Tolbert, Jeffrey Green and Cordell Lamb won the conference title with a time of 3:07.78, a new ACC conference championship record. The first-place nod marked the fourth consecutive indoor title in the men’s 4 × 400 race for the Tigers.

As for the women’s unit, which included Ferguson, James, McIntosh and Kendra Clarke, they blazed to a season-best time of 3:32.84 to break Clemson’s own conference meet record from 2015. 

Green was marvelous on the afternoon for the Tigers, running the final leg of the 4 × 400 to perfection and also winning the 400-meter dash. Green, who has had an incredible season so far, ran a 45.82 in the 400-meter race to top an ACC meet record of 45.93 that dated back to 2006. The time was also good enough to set a new Clemson record in the event, besting the program-best time that Green himself produced earlier this month. Finishing in second place in the event was Lamb, who set a personal record of 46.04 seconds in the race.

History was made for Clemson in the men’s triple jump. Graduate transfer Jeremiah Green, who specializes in the event, became Clemson’s first ACC indoor triple jump champion since 1999, and just the third in program history, with an incredible top jump of 16.39 meters on the day. John Lewis carried forth with his impeccable showing from Saturday by placing second in the men’s 800-meter finals with a time of 1:47.04 that marked a new program record for the Tigers.

Rebekah Smith fared well on the final day of competition, too, notching third place in both the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes. In the 200-meter dash, Smith set a new personal record with a time of 23.3 seconds. As for Robinson, she finished in fifth in both races. In the long-distance running department, all-time Clemson great Grace Barnett ran a 4:38.71 in the women’s mile, her best time in the event this season. The time was good enough to earn Barnett an All-ACC selection, the eighth of her decorated career.

Also of note, Olivia James collected a bronze in the women’s 400-meter races with a time of 53.35 seconds, and Kirk Lewis capped off his ACC Championship showing with a bronze-medal performance in the men’s 60-meter hurdles, producing a time of 7.79 seconds in the final. In the shotput, Clemson’s Grant Voeks earned a personal record of 17.18 meters with his top throw of the day, placing him ninth all-time in program history.

From here, the Clemson Tigers will turn their attention to the upcoming 2018 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, an event hosted by Texas A&M on March 9 and 10.  Looking to build upon their spectacular ACC Championship efforts, the Tigers will feature several competitors looking to earn medals at the national level when they take to the track for the final leg of the indoor season.

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