Photograph courtesy of ETSU Athletics

Photograph courtesy of ETSU Athletics

The track and field program brought in 26 new signees for the 2015-2016 season.

The majority of the signees come from Tennessee recruiting grounds, but others were recruited from Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and the Bahamas.

The women’s team has recruited 14 new signees.

“Our primary recruiting goal for the women over the last two years has been to increase the size and quality of the team by focusing on the areas of sprints/hurdles, jumps and middle distance and distance/cross country,” said Director of Track and Field George Watts. “Our recruiting goals this year will be to grow each of the event areas, with our primary focus being in the areas of mid distance/distance, long sprints/hurdles, throws [and] pole vault, as well as the overall size of the team.”

Katrina Seymour comes to ETSU from the Bahamas with impressive credentials. She recently represented her country at the World Championships in Beijing this past summer, competing in the 4×400 meter relay.

“We anticipate her being an NCAA qualifier in the 400m hurdles outdoors and elevating the 400m and 4x400m group,” said Watts.

Kyra Atkins, from JL Mann High School in Greenville, South Carolina, comes in as a state champion in the 100m hurdles, where it is believed she can make an immediate impact.  

“We will be counting on several other hurdlers, including Jessica Dunker from Loudon High School [and] transfers Jazmin Lacy from Southern University, Rylee Thompson from Austin Peay and Allison Wilson from Volunteer High School,” said Watts.

The sprint corp has also been improved. The program has added quality individuals, giving them more options than in the past.

“We expect our new people to contend for spots on both relays as well as scoring spots at the conference championships,” said Watts.

Kiana Davis (Ooltewah High School) heads the group with Tennessee state runner up credentials She has also been a scorer in three events.

Others include Emily Armstrong (Volunteer High School), Starr Graham (Alpharetta High School, Georgia) and Nyambi Shoates (Westlake High School, Georgia).

“Adding them to our current group of sprinters makes this one of the strongest sprint groups we’ve had in the last several years,” Watts said.

Two new runners have been added to the mid distance/distance group with addition of Sahara Fletcher (Ohio St.) and Emani Jenkins (MLK High School).  

Fletcher attended Westminster High School in Georgia, where she was a three-time state cross country champion. She will concentrate on the 800m/1500m events during the track season. “Emani might need a year to develop some strength, and will eventually be a scorer in the 800m,” said Watts.

The men’s team has added 12 new signees.

“As we move forward with our men’s team, there will be greater emphasis put on the middle distance/distance group, with an eye towards building a national caliber cross country program,” said Watts. “In the meantime, we’ve brought in a very talented group of 12 newcomers that I believe will be very productive over the next four years.”

Some of the track and field signees have already made a difference on ETSU’s men’s cross country team.

“We’ve bolstered our mid distance/distance and cross country team with the addition of four new men,” said Watts. “They include Skyler Winchester, James Garst and Zack Summerall, who are currently battling for top seven spots on the cross country team, and Nick Horne, who will likely redshirt this year but has been a pleasant surprise in training.”

Skyler is a transfer from UNC Asheville with a couple of years of eligibility.  His specialties are in the 5k/10k events.

Garst is from Daniel Boone High School, where he had great success highlighted by his third place finish at the Tennessee State Championship last fall.  

Summerall is from Sarasota High School in Florida, where he excelled in the middle distance events but will be heavily counted on to excel in cross country.  

Horne is another local recruit from Sullivan Central High School, where he was a 3200m state qualifier last spring.

“All in all, it’s a very fine group of young women and men,” said Watts, “and there will be high expectations for them in the classroom and on the track and in the field.”