AKRON ? Some of the top track and field in the region will convene on The University of Akron’s newly refurbished Lee Jackson Track & Field Thursday-Saturday week (May 14-16) for the 2009 Mid-American Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
Competition begins Thursday (10 am) with the women’s hammer and will conclude that day with the 7 pm running of the men’s and women’s 10,000 meters. The Championships will resume Friday at 10 am with the men’s hammer and last until approximately 7 pm with the completion of the men’s and women’s steeplechase. On Saturday, when a majority of the running event finals take place, the men’s high jump, women’s discus and women’s triple jump will all start at approximately Noon with the first running event final ? the 4x100 relay ? set to begin at 2 pm. The championships will end with the awards ceremony, set for 6 pm.
Due to the construction on The University of Akron’s campus, all those attending (competitors, coaches, fans and alike) will need to park in one of five lots accessed on Spicer and/or Carroll Streets. Also, all those in attendance should walk down Carroll Street, towards the James A. Rhodes Arena, and proceed to the left on the sidewalk between the Student Recreation Center and the Lee Jackson Softball field to the track. Tickets, which are to be purchased at the gate, are:
Single Day Pass: Adult $10 and Youth $5
Weekend Pass: Adult $15 and Youth $8
College Students: Free (with valid ID)
Note: Children 3 and Under are free
The Zips ? both the men’s and women’s programs ? are the reigning MAC Outdoor Champions. The men won their first title last season, edging perennial favorite Eastern Michigan by one point after falling by that same margin to the Eagles the previous year. The UA women will be looking for its fifth-straight MAC Outdoor title, its eighth in row when adding the indoor season and 10th total MAC title since 1999.
Akron senior Stevi Large will be looking to win her fourth straight hammer title and third straight discus title. Large would be just the fourth women’s student-athlete to compete a career sweep in an event as LaTasha Jenkins (Ball State) won four 200m titles from 1996-99; Akron’s Beata Rudzinska won four 800m titles from 2003-06 and Laura Murphy (Bowling Green) won four 1500m titles from 1982-85.
Junior Larisa Arcip, who has won each of the last two 1500m championships, will be looking for her third in as many years. Also, the 1500 is an event Akron has dominated of late, winning six of the last seven. Other UA women looking to repeat includes Cassie Schenck (steeplechase), Kim Lorentz (5,000m) and Carol Eckerly (10,000m). Also, looking to carry a MAC title over from this past indoor season will be Carrie Kayes in the pole vault and Niesha Kelly in the long jump.
In addition to champions, Akron currently has three of the top MAC performers in the 200m (Jones), 1500m (Arcip), steeplechase (Schenck), high jump (Alina Bocicor), pole vault (Kayes) and hammer (Large).
While Akron has enjoyed abundant success of late, Eastern Michigan leads the MAC with 11 women’s titles from 1982-2003. Ball State and Akron are tied for second, each with four MAC Outdoor team championships, followed by Ohio (3), Kent State (2), Bowling Green (1), Western Michigan (1) and Central Michigan (1).
For the Akron men, a young squad returns sophomore champions Tyler Sweet (javelin) and Mile Uhle (three-time MAC pole vault champion between indoor and outdoor season). Also back are runner-up K.C. LaCross (400m hurdles) and Weston Lott (decathlon). At this past MAC Indoor Championships, freshmen Phil Ferguson (200m) and Tyshuan Peoples (60m hurdles) each claimed titles, while sophomore Mike McCall won the high jump and junior Daniel Kinsey won his second heptathlon title.
This outdoor season, Ferguson owns the MAC’s best time in the 100m and 200m to date, as do Jason Headman (10,000m), Zach Harper (110m hurdles), the 4x100 relay team, McCall (high jump), Uhle (pole vault), Peoples (long jump), Collister Fahie (triple jump) and Tyler Sweet (javelin).
Eastern Michigan has closed the MAC Outdoor Championships in convincing fashion, winning the 4x400 relay in each of the last seven years and 19 times since 1982. That has helped the Eagles win a MAC-best 20 team titles, followed by Western Michigan (18) and Miami (14). The only other active MAC members to win titles include Kent State (4), Central Michigan (3), Bowling Green (1) and Akron (1).