University City

Area runners help propel UNCC track squad

Isaac McReynolds admitted he didn't think about running track and field at Charlotte until he realized the college football scholarship he sought coming out of high school wasn't going to develop.

McReynolds seriously considered track-and-field offers from Appalachian State and Western Carolina before determining Charlotte's financial package better suited him. It didn't take long for the 2008 Vance High graduate to start building his legacy as a 49er.

Now a redshirt junior, McReynolds takes special pride in competing at Charlotte's Irwin Belk Track and Field Complex with his two favorite University City residents in the audience: mother, Shanetta Parks, and big brother Kirt McReynolds. They will get that opportunity March 15-17 as Charlotte hosts the 49er Classic, an opener to the outdoor track and field season.

Charlotte has been hosting the 49er Classic since 1998, two years after the Belk complex was built. The event usually draws 25 to 35 teams, but Charlotte head coach Bob Olesen said he thinks this year's field could reach 40 teams and about 1,200 athletes.

"It's the first meet of the outdoor season," he said. "People are all fired up after the indoor season, trying to make whatever corrections or improvements they think they need to.

"For many of them, the last meet they may have been to was the indoor (Atlantic 10) conference championships," Olesen said. "So there's always a lot of excitement at that first one."

University City sent 6

McReynolds, a high-jumper and a school record-holder in three hurdles events, is one of six University City high school graduates on the 49ers roster. Others, all freshmen, are Jamil Muhammed-Ray, Cameron Tate and Dominique Weathers from Vance, and Getisso Dentamo and Lauren Gulley of Mallard Creek.

When McReynolds was a freshman, he finished first in the 55-meter hurdles at the 2009 A-10 Conference indoor championships. He also placed fifth in the high jump.

Running at his home track at the outdoor conference championships, McReynolds was named A-10 Rookie of the Year after winning (and breaking the school record in) the 110-meter hurdles and winning again as a member of the first-place 4 x 100-meter relay team. He qualified for the NCAA East Regional in both events.

As a sophomore, he set the school record in the 60-meter high hurdles and also defended his 55-meter hurdles title at the indoor conference meet. In the outdoor season, McReynolds jumped a personal best of 7.0 feet in the high jump. He redshirted his junior outdoor season after suffering a hamstring injury late in the indoor season.

"Being one of the best hurdlers in Charlotte track and field history is a great feeling," said McReynolds. "I know the hurdlers coming in now. I'm trying to pass the tradition on to them so they can break my records and become the best hurdlers in program history."

Computing and leadership

When he's not breaking track-and-field records, he's working toward 2013 graduation and a degree in software information systems. He also represents the athletic department in a couple of campuswide leadership positions.

While Olesen likes drawing athletes from the Charlotte metro region, having them grow up just a couple of miles and a few minutes from the Charlotte campus is even more special. And although McReynolds attended Vance only for his final two years, he is definitely an asset when it comes to recruiting from the area.

"It kind of goes back to having that product they're looking for," said Olesen. "The university is growing. It's an exciting time to be here. We have a strong academic reputation. Athletically, we've been successful, but recently we've been successful with kids from the area.

"When you can show them there is someone like themselves that has been successful, like Isaac, who is from here, it's just an easy sell."

The other University City athletes on the team are enjoying fine freshman seasons themselves. Weathers took second place in the 200-meter dash at last month's A-10 indoor championships and Gulley was a member of the 4 x 400-meter relay team that recently set a school record.