Six MAC student-athletes earn All-America status in Outdoor Track and Field

Updated 6/12/2009

Stories courtesy of MAC school athletic media relations offices

For complete results of the NCAA Championships, click here. 

AKRON

University of Akron senior Stevi Large shattered her own school and Mid-American Conference record twice in the hammer Friday to win the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship with a throw of 223-4, held at the University of Arkansas.

Large posted a personal-record throw of 221-10 (67.62) on her first throw in the final, which would have been good enough to win. After a two-hour weather delay, Southern Cal’s Eva Orban, who was the nation’s leader coming into these championships, and Arizona State’s Sarah Stevens began getting closer to Large’s standard. With Orban only trailing by seven inches in the final round of throws, Large stepped up and delivered the clinching throw of 223-4 (68.08).

"First I would like to thank my parents, family and friends, (throws coach) Brian Forrester and (head coach) Dennis Mitchell for their support and direction over my career," Large said. "Also I would like to thank all my teammates, especially Mike (McCall), Danny (Daniel Kinsey), Carrie (Kayes) and Val (Valerie Wert) for helping me today.

"The competition was tough and there were some nerves when Eva and Sarah began creeping up on my mark. Even tough I had already won prior to my last throw, there was just a tremendous sigh of relief, knowing I was national champion and ending with such a huge mark. It does not get much better than having two personal records and a national title on the same day.

"Coach Forrester and Southern Illinois coach John Smith were great during the two-hour rain. The waiting, not knowing when we would return and the overall anticipation was toughest part of today. I will not say the delay was a benefit, since my first throw would have held up for the win, but it was not bad either.

"It really has not sunk in yet. After the disappointment from indoors (leading and finishing runner-up on the last throw of the competition), this is really exciting. But, really, my season is not over. I still have the USA national championships and hopefully the world championships after that."

Large, who earns her fourth career All-American honor and second was the top performer during the preliminary round on Wednesday with a throw of 215-9. This season, Large competed in and won the hammer all eight times, including her fourth career MAC title and second career NCAA Mideast Regional title. Also, during the indoor season, she competed in the weight throw seven times, winning six with her third career MAC title. Her only non-win of 2009 was a runner-up finish in the weight throw at the NCAA Indoor championships. Along the way this outdoor season, Large set six records in her eight wins, including the UA and MAC all-time records, the MAC Championship meet record, the NCAA Mideast Regional Championship record, the LSU Relays record and the University of Louisville Track record.

"It really was amazing," Mitchell said. "She handled the competition and the ordeal of the long day so well. She fought hard and earned this title. The way the competition was, her being the leader after premlims, she saw what Sarah and Eva did and stepped in right after them and out-competed them. We have had some great athletes since Christi won the heptathlon in 2000, so his shows just how special it is to win a national championship. I can not express how proud I am of Stevi."

Large, who was national runner-up at the NCAA Indoor championships this past March in the weight throw, becomes the second Zip to win a national title this season and the third in school’s history. Also this past March, UA freshman Jenna Compton was the NCAA Individual Air Rifle Champion. In 2000, four-time All-American Christi Smith won the heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

University of Akron junior Carrie Kayes tied the school and Mid-American Conference all-time records with a pole vault of 14-1.25 (4.30), placing sixth and earning All-American honors at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held at the University of Arkansas.

 

Kayes (Green/Green HS) caps a great day for the Zips track program at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. Just past midnight Friday morning, Daniel Kinsey set the UA record in the decathlon (7,563 points) and placed 10th to earn All-American honors. Friday afternoon, Stevi Large became the third national champion in UA history, winning the women’s hammer (223-4) and shattering her own UA and MAC all-time record in the process.

 

Kylie Hutson won with a vault of 14-5.25 and Kayes was one of five (places 2-6) to clear 14-1.25. However, Kayes placed sixth based on previous misses.

 

Kayes, who cleared 13-9.25 this season for her previous career best, tied the UA and MAC records set by three-time All-American Kira Sims, who had three top five finishes at the NCAA Championships in her career.

 

Friday, Kayes missed her first attempt of the finals, but made the mark of 12-9.50 on her second attempt. She then cleared her next three heights (13-1.50 to 13-9.25) on her first attempt. At 14-1.25, Kayes missed her first two attempts, then tied the UA and MAC records by making the height. Hutson was the only competitor to clear the next height.

 

Kayes, participating in her first NCAA Outdoor Championship, was the 2009 MAC Indoor and Outdoor Champion. She also qualified for the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships, but did not clear a height. Also, Kayes was named Academic All-MAC for the indoor and outdoor seasons and named CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District IV thanks to her 3.6 cumulative GPA.

 

Akron track has now had at least one track & field All-American since 1998 and this marks the 14th time (between the indoor and outdoor season) the Zips have had at least two student-athletes earn All-American at the same NCAA Championship.

 

EASTERN MICHIGAN

Eastern Michigan University senior distance ace, Josh Karanja (Ottawa, Ont.-Nepean) ended his collegiate running career on a high note, Friday evening, June 12, on the third day of the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. He finished in the top 12 from Wednesday’s preliminary race to qualify for Friday’s championship race.

“It was great finish sixth and earning All-American honors,” said Karanja. “That was the first goal, to become and All-American and the second was to finish as high as I can. It was a perfect way to end my career here at EMU. I’ve always been a great athlete at EMU but never really won a MAC title till this year so this was a perfect way to end it.”

The Ottawa, Ont. native and Mid-American Conference Champion in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, stayed with the lead pack for the entirety of the race before Brigham Young’s Kyle Perry began to break away from the pack with two laps to go. Perry would eventually win the race but despite being boxed in at times during the race, Karanja would hold on to finish sixth with a time of 8:40.16, just off his personal-best of 8:37.20. With his sixth-place finish, Karanja earns his first-career All-Amiercan honor and finished ahead of Louisville’s Corey Thorne who beat him at the Mideast Regional Championship two weeks ago.

“It certainly was a thrill and very rewarding to have an athlete conclude his careeer at the NCAA Championships with and All-American honors,” said distance coach John Goodridge who made the trip with Karanja. Karanja becomes Goodridge’s third student-athlete to earn five All-American steeplechase awards since coming to EMU in 2001.

Karanja becomes Eastern Michigan’s 132nd track and field NCAA/NAIA All-American and the Eagles’ first since Corey Nowitzke earned the honors in the steeplechase in 2007. Additionally, he became EMU’s first and only All-American in any sport during the 2008-09 school year. 

With the All-American honors added to his list of accomplishments, Karanja’s name will be added to the long list of decorated track and field student-athletes at Eastern Michigan. He was a 10-time All-MAC selection, five-time MAC Track/Cross Country Athlete of the Week, five-time Academic All-MAC selection, four-time NCAA All-Regional honoree, four-time NCAA Championship qualifier, two-time MAC Champion and two-time MAC Co-Most Valuable Performer.

 

KENT STATE

Kent State senior women’s javelin thrower Kimberley Hamilton’s storybook season had a fairy tale ending at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

Hamilton heaved the javelin a career-best 50.80 meters on Friday to nail down fifth place in the event’s finals on the sport’s biggest collegiate stage. Thanks to her top-eight finish, Hamilton was recognized by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) as an All-American.

“It’s totally unreal,” said Hamilton. “I’m really fortunate to have the opportunity in the first place. It’s an incredible feeling.”

To call Hamilton’s story unreal probably isn’t doing it justice. The native of Cave Junction, Ore. was perhaps Kent State’s most pleasant surprise of the season. After spending four standout seasons on the KSU softball team as a center fielder, Hamilton decided to use her remaining year of NCAA eligibility to try her hand at the javelin, and all she did was develop into one of the best throwers in the nation.

Hamilton became a conference champion and beat the regional mark five times. She won the Mid-American Conference title in the event with a 48.74-meter throw. Hamilton continued her Cinderella season as a javelin thrower at the NCAA Mid-East Regional meet in Louisville, Ky. with a 50.19-meter toss that nailed down third place in the event. Her throw at regionals was just short of her previous career-best throw of 50.27 meters at the Duke Invitational.

“I always try to set high standards,” said Hamilton. “It was stepping stones that got me here, from my first meet to the MAC Championships to the NCAA Championships.”

The road to the javelin’s final round at the NCAA Championships was not easy for Hamilton. Sitting in 17th place in the qualifying round Wednesday, Hamilton heaved her final attempt 49.33 meters to finish eighth and advance.

“I told myself that I wasn’t done yet,” said Hamilton. “I used a softball situation to help get me through; a mentality of bottom of the seventh, two outs with the game on the line. It’s something I’m familiar with, and I just went at it.”

While Hamilton’s collegiate career has officially come to an end, she has her sights set on an even bigger goal. She plans to spend the next three years training for the opportunity to qualify for and compete in the Games of the XXX Olympiad in London in 2012. That road will begin with the USA Track & Field 2009 National Championships, held on Hamilton’s home turf in Eugene, Ore. June 25-28.

Hamilton was not the only Golden Flash competing Friday at the NCAA Championships. Freshman Diana Dumitrescu completed an outstanding rookie campaign by taking 15th in the women’s heptathlon with 5,382 points. The native of Campulung, Romania opened the second day of the event’s competition with a 14th-place finish in the long jump, recording a leap of 5.75 meters for 774 points. Dumitrescu also took 14th in the javelin throw with a 36.04-meter toss to pick up 591 points. The freshman finished up her first national championship appearance by clocking a 2:31.98 in the 800 meter run for 23rd place and 668 points.

On Thursday, Dumitrescu finished the 100 meter hurdles in 14.37 to place 20th and earn 927 points. She elevated herself 1.72 meters to force a three-way tie for seventh and snatch 879 points in the high jump. The shot put saw Dumitrescu earn 729 points courtesy of a throw of 13.02 meters. Dumitrescu wrapped up her initial day of championship competition with the 200 meter dash, clocking a 25.83 finish for 22nd place and 812 points.

Dumitrescu dominated the event throughout the season, provisionally qualifying for the championships twice. She twice shattered 2009 Varsity "K" inductee Aja Farris's 5,307 point total in 2000, the previous high water mark for the program in the heptathlon. Dumitrescu compiled a season-high 5,429 points to win the conference title, topping an outstanding performance earlier in the season at the 100th Drake Relays where she was the top collegiate finisher in the event and third overall with 5,350 points.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN 

Greg Pilling capped off his impressive outdoor track and field season with national honors.

The Central Michigan University junior thrower was named an All-American in the discus throw. Pilling finished eighth in the event with a toss of 183-4.

The London, Ont. native is the 28th Chippewa track and field athlete to earn All-America status and the 22nd to accomplish the feat during the outdoor season. He is the first CMU athlete to achieve the honor in the discus and the first thrower to do it since Bruno Pauletto in 1978.