NEWS, NOTES &
The Bradsher Beat
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
By Bethany Bradsher
Women's track and field title
(ECU SID image)
All rights reserved.
View the Mobile Alpha version of this page.
Curt Kraft’s office is full of boxes. Not too
surprising, since he and his staff are in the process of moving to the
brand-new Olympic sports building. motivate
But one of those boxes in the middle of the
floor has nothing to do with his move. It’s overflowing with T-shirts and
watches printed with the sweetest words he has seen written in his six years
as East Carolina’s head track and field coach: Conference USA Champions.
In Birmingham this past weekend, the Lady
Pirates track and field team excelled across the board, earning 123 points
and their first C-USA Indoor Title in the program’s history. And to cap the
attainment of that ultimate team goal, Kraft was awarded the trophy as C-USA
Indoor Women’s Coach of the Year.
“This is the ultimate,” he said, “I know it
sounds cliched, but I don’t think it gets too much better than this. Work
hard, stay focused, have the right attitude, eat the right things. We say
these things as coaches, and sometimes we think it goes in one ear and out
the other. But hard work really does pay off.”
Kraft will proudly display that award on his
new shelf, but he is quick to point out that any track and field
championship comes only through excellent team leadership. His staff of
eight coaches deserves plenty of credit for building a program that is
making winning a habit, he said.
“It’s all about the coaches,” he said. “You
don’t win championships if you don’t have good assistants or you don’t have
Some of the top performers at the conference
meet have established themselves as perennial record breakers for the
Pirates. Junior Tynita Butts, one of the most decorated athletes ever in ECU
track and field, won the high jump with a height of 1.85 meters that tied
the C-USA record and qualified her for the NCAA Indoor Championships. Butts
has also qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer.
Other established standouts who pitched in to
the Pirates’ top point total were senior Brittany Copeland, who captured a
new C-USA record in the 3,000-meter run with a time of 9:30.08, and
sophomore Tania Minkins, who placed second in the 200 with a time of 23.73.
Emerging ECU stars, like junior Brooke Kott
and freshman Tyshonda Hawkins, also put their mark on the Pirates’
championship effort. Kott won the 800 meters for her first-ever league
title, and Hawkins was a member of the 4X400 relay team that clinched the
title for the Pirates.
“The 4X4 girls knew what they needed to do,”
Craft said of the relay team, which also include Minkins, Tiffany Harris and
Aiesha Goggins. “I think they enjoyed that moment. I think they enjoyed
being in that position.”
The men’s team didn’t hoist a trophy at the
end of the weekend, but the C-USA performance yielded their top point total
in history and third place overall. Stellar individual performances from
athletes like junior Montrell Morrow and senior Dennis Aliotta, who won the
weight throw and the shot put, respectively, helped boost the men.
Now that Kraft and company are back in
Greenville and looking for excuses to wear their new T-shirts, both of the
ECU teams are still motivated to future excellence — because the first meet
of the outdoor season is just over two weeks away. Kraft has pointed out to
the women that they now have a target on their back and consequently have to
work even harder, and the men’s team is determined to get a trophy of its
“The men finished third, and that team
championship by the women is obviously in the limelight. “We are a family,
we are a team, we’re not a women’s team, we’re not a men’s team, we’re a
track and field team. So the women winning this, it kind of motivates the
E-mail Bethany Bradsher
Bethany Bradsher Archives
02/29/2012 02:12 AM