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Eagles ready for final SoCon championship meet
ITF Stegall Asha DC 2014
Georgia Southern's Asha Stegall anchors the 4x400-meter relay on March 2, at the Southern Conference Indoor track championships in Winston-Salem, N.C. - photo by DAVID CHRISTY/Special to the Herald

    Georgia Southern’s third-place finish in the 2014 Southern Conference indoor track championships didn’t discourage the Eagles. It left them wanting more.
    The team feels like it left a lot on the track back in March at Winston-Salem, N.C.
    “We came out of the indoor championships hungry,” GSU coach Marlo Mincey said. “There were a lot of things that went wrong, and we were within 13 points of winning it. It could have been anyone’s meet. They have somewhat of a chip on their shoulder.”
    The SoCon outdoor championships run today and Sunday in Spartanburg, S.C.
    The Eagles finished at the indoor meet behind perennial powers Western Carolina and second-place Appalachian State, a one-two punch that has combined to win all but three SoCon titles since the women’s sport came to the league in 1987. Georgia Southern is the only other current SoCon member to have won a title — it won the outdoor championship in 2007 — and senior Dana Edwards, who competes in the 100- and 400-meter hurdles along with twin sister Deanna Edwards, feels like GSU is primed not only to make a mark in the program’s last SoCon meet, but to make a splash when the Eagles join the Sun Belt next season.
    “I want to make sure when I leave, I leave my name somewhere,” Dana Edwards said. “I want people to know it’s not a mistake that we’re moving up. The team is ready. Even though I won’t be here, they’re ready for the next level of competition.”
    Edwards has come a long way as a hurdler since she started competing in the event as a freshman in high school. Her physique shoehorned her into the event.
    “In high school, we only had one hurdler and she was a senior,” Edwards said. “I was a freshman, and my coach was just like, ‘Dana, you’re going to hurdle.’ I have long legs, so why not? I was scared. I would always run up to it and slow down. It took a long time. It’s just muscle memory now.”
    Edwards also runs the first leg in the 4x400 relay.
    Though the rivalry between Western Carolina and Appalachian State looks to continue, Mincy will make sure the Eagles compete only with themselves in the 21-event meet.
    “It’s just us,” Mincey said. “We line up every day trying to be the best Georgia Southern Eagles we can be. We get together at the beginning of the year and we set individual goals. If everyone meets their individual goals, we’ll be a conference championship program.”
    Jasmin Walker is one Eagle expected to claim an individual title. Walker has won the long jump two consecutive years. An Eagle has won the long jump at every championship meet since 2005.
Walker was also a part of the 4x100 relay team that nearly broke the SoCon record at the 2013 meet.
    Mincey expects the SoCon championships to highlight some of the best individual performances of the year.
    “We’re not going to change our mindset no matter where we are,” Mincey said. “We’re going into the championship trying to win another conference championship. We’re always at our best come championship time, and we want to have one of the best meets in the history of our program.”

    Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.