College Sports

All-American Trey McRae leads Charlotte 49ers into Conference USA meet

Trey McRae made All-American in the high jump as a junior during the 2014 outdoor season. He is one of several Charlotte 49ers athletes who rank in the conference’s top five in their respective events heading into the Conference USA indoor meet.
Trey McRae made All-American in the high jump as a junior during the 2014 outdoor season. He is one of several Charlotte 49ers athletes who rank in the conference’s top five in their respective events heading into the Conference USA indoor meet. CHARLOTTE 49ERS ATHLETICS

Let the rest of the NCAA beware if the high jump is Trey McRae’s second-best event.

A Charlotte 49ers track-and-field athlete, McRae made All-American in the high jump as a junior during the 2014 outdoor season. His leap of 6 feet, 103/4 inches at the NCAA championships left him tied for 13th overall.

This year, as the indoor season’s conclusion nears, McRae said his chances of qualifying for the NCAAs might be even better in the long jump than in the high jump. As of Feb.15, his longest jump is 25 feet, 8 inches, ranking him seventh nationally, while his highest jump of 7 feet, 21/2 inches ties him for 14th.

One of McRae’s final meets before nationals will be Feb.25-26, as the 49ers men’s and women’s teams travel to Birmingham, Ala., for the Conference USA indoor championships. The 49ers are trying to improve over last year’s finishes, in which both squads placed sixth.

McRae is one of several Charlotte athletes who rank in the conference’s top five in their respective events. He is first in the high jump, second in the long jump and fourth in the triple jump.

The other top five 49ers are senior Taylor Carcella (800 meters, third), redshirt senior Joann Blakney (60 meters, third), senior T’Sheila Mungo (400 meters, fourth), senior Michael Tamayo (800 meters, first), senior Anthony Bynum (200 meters, third), junior Anthony Campbell (triple jump, third) and sophomore Nathan Jeffers (heptathlon, fifth).

McRae said his All-American finish to 2014-15 energized him heading into this school year. Coming off pre-season training, McRae said, he feels he has peaked in terms of his health, physical flexibility and technical approach.

Charlotte track and field head coach Bob Olesen says McRae continues to work on his technique, which includes a slightly flawed way in which he arcs his back when clearing the bar. McRae says he spends about 65percent of his training time on the high jump, while the remainder is spent on the long jump.

“I think, if I can stay healthy and get everything clicking, I think can finish in top three or five in both events (nationally),” said McRae, from Laurinburg. “If I can improve my technique a little bit and run off the board in the long jump, and if I can just be confident in the high jump at higher heights I’ve never seen and just hold my arc, I think I can finish in at least the top five in both.”

Campbell also could stand to fix a technical flaw in his triple jump. Olesen said that if he could conserve his speed and jump off the correct foot, Campbell could reach up to 53 feet, which might be long enough to place first at the conference meet.

Bynum, a Hopewell graduate, has the best time in the country in the 300 meters; however, that is not an event run at the national or conference level. Instead, Bynum hopes to finish high in the 60 meters and 200 meters and make up for his absence at last year’s conference meet due to injury.

As a school record-holder in six indoor and outdoor events, Mungo already has established her legacy at Charlotte. This season, she hopes to win her first C-USA title, after finishing second in the 800 meters at last year’s indoor championships.

Mungo will be concentrating on the 400 meters this week, an event in which she ran a personal best 54.12 seconds as a sophomore. Mungo said she has a chance to run that sort of time again, if not faster.

“I’m running faster than I was last year,” she said. “I really feel like I can drop times at conference and hopefully make indoor nationals. I’ve gotten close to my sophomore year, when I ran 54.1. But to make nationals you have to go at least 53.5. So I’m kind of close.”

Women’s basketball

Charlotte’s women’s basketball team (10-14 overall, 6-6 conference) won three of four games between Jan.31 and Feb.14 to move into a tie for eighth place in the Conference USA standings. Only one game separated the 49ers from being tied for sixth.

Charlotte just finished a weekend set at Louisiana Tech and Southern Mississippi. With the exception of Western Kentucky, three of the 49ers’ final four opponents have a combined record of 10-26.

Men’s tennis

The men’s tennis team won three of its first four matches. Top singles player Forrest Edwards won his 10th match of the season against UNC Greensboro on Feb.15.

Softball

The softball team is off to a 5-1 start, including a 4-0 record in the First Pitch Classic tournament it hosted Feb.13-14.

In six games, shortstop Natalie Capone led the 49ers with a .545 batting average, while outfielder Jessica Plemmons was batting .476 with a team-leading 13 RBIs.

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

Upcoming events

Feb. 22

▪ Men’s golf: at Bayou City Collegiate, Houston, 8 a.m

▪ Softball: vs. Western Carolina, Phillips Softball Complex, 12 p.m.

▪ Baseball: vs. Akron, Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, 1 p.m.

Feb. 25

▪ Women’s tennis: Wofford, Halton-Wagner Tennis Complex, 2 p.m.

▪ Men’s tennis: at Wofford, 2:30 p.m.

▪ Softball: at UNC Greensboro, 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

▪ Baseball: vs. College of Charleston, Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, 4 p.m.

▪ Men’s and women’s indoor track and field: at Conference USA championships, Birmingham, Ala., TBA.

Feb. 26

▪ Women’s basketball: North Texas, Halton Arena, 7 p.m.

▪ Men’s basketball: at North Texas, 8 p.m.

▪ Men’s and women’s indoor track and field: at Conference USA championships, Birmingham, Ala., TBA.

Feb. 27

▪ Softball: vs. Kent State, Phillips Softball Complex, 12 p.m.

▪ Softball: vs. Robert Morris, Phillips Softball Complex, 2 p.m.

▪ Women’s tennis: at USC Upstate, 2 p.m.

▪ Baseball: vs. Marist, Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, 4 p.m.

Feb. 28

▪ Softball: vs. Drexel, Phillips Softball Complex, 12 p.m.

▪ Softball: vs. TBA, Phillips Softball Complex, 2 p.m.

▪ Baseball: vs. Marist, Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium, 1 p.m.

▪ Men’s tennis: at Duke, 2:30 p.m.

▪ Women’s basketball: Rice, Halton Arena, 7 p.m.

▪ Men’s basketball: at Rice, 7 p.m.

Source: www.charlotte49ers.com

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