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View from the East
Thursday, May 30, 2002

By Al Myatt
ECU Beat Writer for The News & Observer

Carson and Pirate track team making waves


Low profile program runs into spotlight...
Jury still out on Herring accident injury...
Elon holds its own vs. tourney teams...
Former Pirate on hitting tear for El Paso...


Doing a lot with a little

When it comes to coaching tenure, East Carolina men’s head track coach Bill Carson sits at the head of the Pirates' table.

Carson is in his 35th year directing the Pirates track and field fortunes. To put his longevity in context, that’s three times longer than Steve Logan has been guiding the football program.

Of course, Carson operates under much less of a microscope than even a coordinator for the Pirates in football. But he knows how to find talent and he knows how to develop it.

And when it comes to operating within a budget, Carson can make a nickel look like it’s made out of elastic. That’s why it’s good to see that the longtime Pirates coach has been rewarded by being recognized by the United States Track Coaches Association as its coach of the year for the Southeast region.

The award puts him in the running for national coach of the year honors, which will be determined at the conclusion of the NCAA championships this week at LSU.

The Pirates are represented in the NCAA championships for the 26th consecutive year, another tribute to the achievements of Carson’s programs considering the relatively limited resources that have been at hand.

When the ECU track was resurfaced two years ago, the crew had an excess of the rubberized coating. The opportunistic Carson asked them what they were going to do with it and talked them into applying the extra material to the Pirates track — at no extra expense to the university.

“We’ve got a little extra bounce in our track,” said Carson with a laugh.

Julien Dunkley, a 27-year old junior from Jamaica who went to high school in New York, is a Carson recruit by way of Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY.

John Sinnett of the ECU sports information department relates the improbable emergence of Dunkley after a 3 1/2-year hitch in the U.S. Army in which he aggravated a hernia and was discharged. Doctors told him he wouldn’t be able to walk normally again and he would have to use a cane.

After leaving the army in 1997, Dunkley returned home to live with his family. While seeing his brothers racing down the street one day in 1998, Dunkley’s overwhelming competitive drive captured his spirit.

“I told them I could still beat them in a race. They told me there was no way, and so I threw down the cane and took off down the street with them.”

Dunkley didn’t win the race, but the moment showed him that he would be able to compete athletically once again.

Carson saw Dunkley at the Penn Relays in 2000 and subsequently recruited him to ECU. Dunkley credits a family atmosphere within the Pirates program as an element of success, especially for the relay teams.

Dunkley is competing in the 100-meter, the 200-meter and the 4x100 at LSU.

In Wednesday action, the 4x100 meter relay team of senior Darren Tuitt, junior Jeremy Carter, freshman B.J. Henderson, and Dunkley qualified for Friday`s 7 p.m. finals. The quartet finished the event in a season-best time of 39.31 seconds, good for fifth place. LSU finished first in 38.32 seconds, followed by Tennessee (38.71), Clemson (38.96), Southern California (39.26).

“We had a good race today,” said Carson, who has produced dozens of All-Americans during his tenure, including a number of world-class athletes. “We ran well and got off to a good start. Tomorrow will be a busy day and we’re looking to get after it and have some excellent performances.”

Thursday’s schedule includes Henderson in the 400-meter preliminaries at 6:30 p.m., Dunkley in the 100 meter preliminaries at 7 p.m., and the fourth-ranked Pirates in the 4x400 meter prelims, scheduled for 8:20 p.m.

Henderson and senior Lawrence Ward, who each have earned indoor or outdoor All-America honors twice in their careers, are on the 4x400 unit, which includes junior Frankie Green and freshman Domonick Richmond.

Herring awaits prognosis, Pope stitched     << By Al Myatt... Top of Page >>

Jason Herring, a 6-foot-8 basketball forward whom we wrote about in last week's View from the East, was injured in a car accident in New Hanover County early Sunday morning.

Herring, a Brooklyn, NY, product who spent his freshman year at ECU working to qualify academically and not playing, is in Pitt Memorial Hospital with a swollen knee.

It's too early to project a prognosis on the injury, according to ECU hoops coach Bill Herrion.

“When the swelling goes down they will be able to do an MRI,” Herrion said. “Until then they won’t know if there was any structural damage.”

Brandon Pope, an offensive lineman in football for the Pirates, was apparently driving the car and may have fallen asleep at the wheel. He received stitches in his chin and was released from the hospital.

Phoenix coach surprised     << By Al Myatt... Top of Page >>

Mike Kennedy, baseball coach at Elon, which is East Carolina’s first round opponent in the NCAA baseball regional at Clemson at 2 p.m. on Friday, wasn’t sure the Phoenix would get a berth to the NCAA event after the Big South Tournament.

“My initial thought was that it was an amazing feeling,” Kennedy said. “We struggled at the wrong times. When we didn’t play well against Liberty (in the league tournament), we thought that had done us in.”

But from the ashes rose the Phoneix.

“I felt great for our kids to see our name pop up on the screen,” Kennedy said.

“You think that your career is over and then something like this happens and gives you new life,” said Elon outfielder Whit Bryant, a senior from Greenville. “We’ve worked for four years to get here. It was chaos in the locker room when we saw ‘Elon’ flash on the screen. I’ve never been a part of that kind of energy before.”

Elon has already won this season at Clemson. The regional hosts were ranked No. 1 when Elon beat them at Doug Kingsmore Stadium by an 8-6 score on May 9.

The Phoenix have an 8-7 record against teams that have made the NCAA field this season, including a split with the Pirates.

Junior left-hander Sam Narron will start for the Pirates against Elon, according to ECU sports information director Craig Wells. Narron is 8-3 with a 2.81 earned run average.

ECU will be seeking to maintain the momentum of its run to the Conference USA Tournament championship in Kinston last week.

“We approached the conference tournament as a new season,” Narron said. “This is a new season, too.”

Provisions have been made for ECU coach Keith LeClair to be on hand at Clemson despite his battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

“We would have liked to have been hosting,” said ECU assistant Kevin McMullan. “But we’re excited about the challenge of playing in the NCAA Tournament. ... We’re going down there to win.”

Freshman Darryl Lawhorn leads ECU offensively with a .419 average, 17 home runs and 61 RBIs.

“I just want to get to Omaha (site of the College World Series) for Coach LeClair,” said Lawhorn after the C-USA Tournament.

Tracy hot, hot, hot     << By Al Myatt... Top of Page >>

Chad Tracy, a mainstay on ECU’s super regional team at third base in 2001, is playing for Double-A El Paso in the World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks’ minor league system. Tracy started the week hitting .396, the highest average in the minors.

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02/23/2007 12:59:01 AM

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