Winthrop University

Eagles' Gilkerson signs deal with Red Bulls

John Gilkerson, a two-time All-Big South Conference first team defender, has signed a contract with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.

"He was so excited when he called me on Friday night and said the New York Red Bulls offered him a contract," coach Rich Posipanko said in a statement."It is every player's dream to play in the major league of their particular sport. As for John, he has been the best athlete I have ever coached, but he has certainly put in the effort and dedication needed to get this opportunity and make it onto a MLS roster. He will need to continue with this work ethic in order to stay in the league."

He became the second Eagle to sign with an MLS team.

Marco Reda, who played for Posipanko in the late 1990s, played one year with Toronto. He recently signed with the Charleston Battery after being released earlier this month.

Reda, 30, has played in the top leagues of Denmark and Norway for six years and has also been a member of the Canadian National Team.

• ON A ROLL: The men's soccer team is 4-0 and has given up just one goal in spring competition.

Daniel Revivo and Miguel Casajana each scored as the Eagles blanked Pass 4, a touring team from England, last week.

The Eagles also shut out Clemson and Davidson and defeated Queens 4-1.

But there was some bad news that came out of the win over Pass 4. Ben Kieffner, a rising senior defender, broke his foot.

Winthrop will take a break before returning to Rock Hill for the second Manchester Cup. The one-day soccer marathon will be held at Manchester Meadows beginning at 10:45 a.m. on March 29.

Posipanko has lined up eight college teams, the Charlotte Eagles, who play in the United Soccer League, and four of the top high schools in the state.

Other Palmetto State teams in the tournament are Clemson, South Carolina, Furman and College of Charleston.

The high school field includes Northwestern, Fort Mill, Dorman and Spartanburg.

• JUST FOR KICKS: Former Winthrop standout David Kenga scored late in the second half to lead Charleston to a 1-1 tie with New York in the Carolina Challenge in Charleston.

Kenga's last year at Winthrop was 2006.

• SOARING EAGLE: The pressure's off high jumper Jason Williams.

One meet into the 2008 outdoor season, Williams knows he's going to the NCAA Regionals in May.

The senior from Cleveland, N.C., qualified with a leap of 6-feet-11 at last weekend's Coastal Carolina Invitational. Williams finished second to Liberty's Matt Parker, who also cleared the same height but had one fewer miss.

"You don't want to wait until late in the season or the conference meet to make your qualifying number," coach Ben Paxton said. "Jason was really popping his takeoff and I am more excited at his how close his attempts were at 7-1. But to get the qualifying out of the way at the first meet is a relief and huge chance to go higher as the weather gets better."

Three other Winthrop standouts just missed qualifying.

Freshman Jared Baird shattered the school record in the javelin with a toss of 200 feet, 9 inches, which blew away the old mark by 29 feet. Baird was just 9 inches short of a qualifying distance.

Matt Elliott ran a school-record 3:47.9 for the 1,500 meters and missed making the regionals by .13 of a second.

Ashley Howard easily won the discus with a toss of 150 feet, 3 inches, missing NCAA qualifying by less than three feet.

"To be so close and be able to taste it is both frustrating and exciting so early in the season," Paxton said. "Ashley will be there very soon. She has hit that mark in practice and is on the verge. Jared is young and this was his first collegiate meet. As he gets stronger, the sky is the limit. Matt is getting better and better with each meet. The better the race the faster he will run."

Travis Coleman also set a school record by winning the hammer throw with a distance of 153 feet, 9 inches.

• DIAMOND DUST: The softball team plays the first of two ACC opponents on Thursday when Georgia Tech comes to town for a 2 p.m. doubleheader. Georgia Tech leads the series 15-12.

The 16-10 Lady Eagles, who have won eight straight and captured the Gold Division of the Winthrop/adidas Invitational, travel to N.C. State on March 26. Winthrop will host North Carolina at Terry Field on April 23.

During the eight-game winning streak, the Lady Eagles have pounded out 70 hits, scored 62 runs compared to the opposition's six, have recorded four shutouts and had three games shortened by the 10-run mercy rule.

Lisa Kingsmore, the MVP of the Winthrop/adidas Invitational, leads the team with a .462 batting average. Tessa Thomas is second at .337.

• SOFTBALL: Kingsmore, the Big South Conference's preseason player of the year, earned her first career player of the week honor after hitting .588 last week.

Kingsmore, who had a 20-game hit streak snapped in the last game of the Winthrop/adidas Invitational, had three multi-hit games that included three hits each against Fairfield and UNC Wilmington. In 17 at-bats, she walked four times, had 10 hits and did not strike out.