Winthrop officials are expecting more than 2,000 athletes from 35 colleges and universities to gather at two sports venues this weekend for track and field and men's soccer competition.
The second Asics/Winthrop Invitational track and field meet will be held at the Irwin Belk Track on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, while soccer fans can gather at Manchester Meadows on Saturday.
Track coach Ben Paxton is expecting 25 teams and about 1,800 athletes for the three-day event.
Paxton is looking for one and maybe more Eagles to qualify for the NCAA Regionals. They would join senior high jumper Jason Williams and junior Ashley Howard, who won the discus at the Charlotte meet last weekend.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
"I think we'll see some people qualify," Paxton said. "We have so many that are so close."
Competition begins at 2 p.m. on Thursday, with several events in the hepthalon and decathlon. Competition starts at 10 a.m. on Friday and 9 a.m. on Saturday.
Soccer teams from around the region will gather at Manchester Meadows on Saturday for the Manchester Cup.
Nine college and university teams, a professional team from Charlotte and four high schools, including state-ranked Northwestern and Dorman, will compete starting at 10:45 a.m. on Brannan Field.
The last match kicks off at 7:45 p.m.
College teams that will participate include the host Eagles, College of Charleston, Clemson, Furman, Kentucky, Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington, UNC Greensboro and South Carolina.
Winthrop, 4-0 this spring, will square off against College of Charleston at 12:30 p.m. and UNC Wilmington at 5:30.
The inaugural Manchester Cup last year drew over 3,000 spectators throughout the day.
"This is the top college showcase in the south and one of the best in the nation," coach Rich Posipanko said. "Many professional scouts turn out to watch these games because of the high standard of teams and players. Each year the committee looks to bring in teams that were either regionally or nationally ranked or have played in the NCAA College Cup over a two year period.
"By doing this we can assure soccer fans of seeing quality teams and outstanding competition each year. I am thrilled with this year's field. Last year, we had excellent teams and we were able to top that field with the teams participating this year."
• GOLF COURSE CLOSED: The Winthrop Golf Course will be closed Friday and Saturday because of the Asics/Winthrop Invitational track meet.
The course will return to regular operating hours on Sunday.
• ONE FOR THE BOOKS: John Gilkerson, Jeffery Muschik, David Kenga and Marco Reda made Winthrop men's soccer program history recently as four former players involved in a professional contest.
According to Posipanko, it is the first time more than two players from Winthrop's program had either faced off or been on the same field in a professional match.
The match was a 1-1 tie between the New York Red Bulls and the Charleston Battery.
Gilkerson was a draft pick of the Red Bulls this year. Muschik, a 1999 Winthrop grad, was one of the linesmen and Kenga and Reda played for the Battery.
Kenga, a 2006 All-Big South Conference first-team selection, scored from 10 yards out late in the match to earn the Battery a 1-1 tie.
• WORK ON THOSE SKILLS: Volleyball coach Sally Polhamus and her staff will conduct clinics on April 6 and again on April 13.
There will be a general skills clinic from 1-3 p.m. each day and is open to children in 1st-6th grade. Cost is $25 a session or $40 for both. The clinic will cover all the skills of volleyball while also giving the opportunity for match play.
The position skills clinic is open to children in 7th-12th grade and will run from 3:30-6:30 p.m. on both days. Cost is $30 for each session or $50 for both sessions. The clinic will cover specific training according to position setter, hitting and defensive specialist.
For more information, contact assistant coach Shannon Wells at (803) 323-2129, ext.6612, or at email@example.com.
• DIAMOND DUST: The softball team will be back in action this afternoon with a road trip to N.C. State for a 4 p.m. doubleheader.
Coach Mark Cooke's Eagles (17-11) open Big South Conference play with a three-game set at Charleston Southern on Friday and Saturday.
Friday's doubleheader begins at 3 p.m., with Saturday's wrapup at 1 p.m. The Eagles, the No. 1 pick in the preseason poll, went 11-3 in league competition last season and swept the Lady Bucs in Rock Hill to take a 56-15 advantage in the series.
Charleston Southern, 14-22 heading into today doubleheader against College of Charleston, was picked to finish last.
"They've got a big win over Virginia Tech," Cooke said. "You can't take anybody in the conference lightly, especially when you're playing on the road.
"We've had a very good preseason, so I'm excited about where we are."
Junior Lisa Kingsmore leads Winthrop's offense with a .477 batting average, while senior Stephanie Reid has four home runs, including a walk-off grand slam against Georgia Tech.
• ON THE TEE: The men's golf team returns to action this weekend at the Furman Invitational.
The Eagles have not played in a tournament since their 11th place finish at the Samford Intercollegiate on March 8-11. Coach Kevin Pendley is hoping his squad plays a little more consistently than it did the last time out.
The Eagles got off to a rocky start with an opening-round 311 that left them 23 strokes off the lead. They bounced back with a 286, the third-lowest score in the event, on the second day, only to balloon to another 311 on the final 18.
Freshman Cipriano Ayala led the Eagles with a 222 (74-72-76) and tied for 23rd place. Senior Pete Alminas finished in a tie for 36th with a 226 (81-70-75). Junior Kelly Manders tied for 59th at 232 (78-74-80) while Trevor Muffley rounded out Winthrop's scores with a 239 (78-77-84). good for a tie for 71st.
At Manchester Meadows
(2007 record in parenthesis)
Noon -- South Carolina (11-6-2) vs. Old Dominion (14-7-3)
1:45 p.m. -- Clemson (7-11-1) vs. UNC Greensboro (11-8-2)
10:45 a.m. -- UNC Wilmington (4-13-1) vs. Charlotte Eagles (11-7-2)
12:30 p.m. -- Winthrop (11-4-3) vs. College of Charleston (13-5-1)
2:15 p.m. -- Kentucky (7-10-2) vs. Furman (19-4)
3:30 p.m. -- Northwestern vs. Dorman
4 p.m. -- Fort Mill vs. Spartanburg
5:30 p.m. -- Winthrop vs. UNC Wilmington
7:15 p.m. -- College of Charleston vs. Kentucky
8:45 p.m. -- Furman vs. Charlotte Eagles
6 p.m. -- UNC Greensboro vs. South Carolina
7:45 p.m. -- Old Dominion vs. Clemson
Tickets: $12 for adult tournament pass. $7 for children under 12 and students with a valid ID. Group rate of $10 a person for 10 or more and $5 for children and students.
Ticket stub can also be redeemed at the Charlotte Eagles game against the Richmond Kickers at 7 p.m. on April 25 at a discount price of $6 for adults and $4 youth. Ticket stub must be presented to get discount price.