When Charlotte track and field coach Bob Olesen and his staff compared their athletes’ marks against others in Conference USA, Olesen felt his men’s team had a real shot at landing in the top three at the indoor championships earlier this month.
The 49ers placed sixth, but only 11 team points separated them from second-place Louisiana Tech.
With several Charlotte athletes returning from injuries and others who will be transitioning to outdoor events to which their skills are better suited, The 49ers may fair better against conference competition in the outdoor season.
The 49ers open the outdoor season at home March 20-22 when they host the 49er Classic at the Irwin Belk Track and Field Center. The C-USA Outdoor Championships will be May 15-18 in Houston.
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The 49er Classic “is a great meet for the beginning of the year,” said Olesen. “Over the years, we’ve developed it as a popular place for the northern teams to come down for their spring break.”
By finishing first in the weight throw, redshirt senior Kerrick Williams was the only Charlotte men’s athlete to win an event at the conference indoor meet Feb. 28-March 1 in Birmingham, Ala. The win capped a breakout season for Williams after he redshirted both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2013.
In the outdoor season, Olesen said he expects Williams to compete well in the discus and the hammer throw, two events not offered indoors.
Senior Cordell Livingston redshirted the 2013 outdoor season and did not compete this indoor season because he had run out of indoor eligibility.
Livingston is the school record holder in the outdoor 400-meter hurdles and the shuttle hurdle relay. He was named Most Outstanding Field Performer at the Atlantic 10 Indoor Championships in 2013 after winning the long jump.
Junior Khyran Shank returns as one of the 49ers’ top sprinters after redshirting this indoor season. During the 2013 outdoor season, he qualified for the NCAA East Preliminary Championship in the 100 meters and on the 4x100-meter relay team.
K’Vonte Scott, a redshirt sophomore, will be competing for Charlotte for the first time this spring. He is a recent transfer from East Tennessee State and will complement Charlotte’s solid group of decathletes.
“He’ll jump right in with this core group that we have,” said Olesen. “On paper, he’s our No. 1 guy. We elected to redshirt him for the indoor season. He had been training on his own in the fall. We wanted to get him settled before competing.”
Redshirt sophomore Anthony Bynum (Hopewell) was expected to perform well at the C-USA indoor meet but did not get to compete. The sprinter had a fine indoor season, but a week before the C-USA meet, Bynum was taking advantage of running on a banked tracked at the Virginia Tech Challenge. Halfway through the 60-meter race, Bynum tweaked a hamstring and bowed out.
Bynum traveled with the team to Birmingham in case he was ready to compete. Concerned Bynum was not 100 percent, Olesen pulled him from the event 24 hours before he was scheduled to race.
Junior Nick Swan (heptathlon) and sophomore Anthony Campbell (triple jump) made all-conference at the indoor meet by finishing third in their respective events.
Men’s basketball senior Ben Cherry (Myers Park High) was named to the Conference USA All-Academic team for the second straight year. Last year, Cherry made the team as an undergraduate student at Tulane.
Senior guard Ny Hammonds (Concord) was named to the All-Conference USA Second Team prior to the start of the league’s tournament March 11. Lefty Webster was named to the All-Freshman team.
Softball coach Aimee DeVos earned her 500th career win against Florida International on March 8. DeVos is in her 20th season at Charlotte.