MAC Announces Track and Field Athletes of the Week

Updated 4/2/2013

Women's Track Athlete of the Week 
Juli Accurso, Ohio University, Distance 
Junior, Casstown, Ohio (Miami East)
Accurso (Casstown, Ohio) finished 20th in the highly competitive Section 1 of the 10,000m run at the Stanford Invitational on Friday. Accurso crossed the finish line in 33:52.33, just two seconds off the Ohio school record. The time puts her in strong position to earn an NCAA first round berth in the event. 

Men's Track Athlete of the Week 
Ryan Billian, Buffalo, Hurdles
Freshman, Levittown, NY (Division Avenue)
At the Toledo Collegiate Challenge, Ryan Billian won the men’s 110-meter hurdles in 14.30 seconds.


Women's Field Athlete of the Week
Brooke Pleger, Bowling Green, Throw 
Sophomore, Saline, Mich (Saline HS)
Brooke Pleger set meet, facility and school records in the hammer throw at the prestigious Raleigh Relays Saturday, hosted by North Carolina State. Pleger vaulted herself into contention for a national championship with a toss of 212-feet-6, which was more than 20 feet further than the school record. It also set a Raleigh Relays record that had stood for 14 years. Pleger's distance has only been bettered at the MAC Championships once in history and that was by Akron's Stevi Large, who went on to win the National Championship in the event. With that distance, Pleger ranks first in the East Region and third in the country.


Men's Field Athlete of the Week 
Shawn Barber, Akron  Pole Vault
Freshman, Kingwood, Texas (Kingwood Park HS)
Amidst a star-studded field at the prestigious Texas Relays, Zips freshman Shawn Barber represented Akron well with a school-record breaking jump of 18-08.75 and a runner-up finish last Friday night. Barber's clearance smashed UA's previous outdoor record of 18-01.00, which was originally set by five-time All-American John Russell in 2005, and currently stands as the second-best vault in the country. Barber had three attempts at 19-00.75, which would have broken the Junior World Record of 19-00.25, but didn't clear. Ten of the 16 entries in the pole vault competition Friday competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships last month


Other Nominees: 

Women Field 
Brittany Funk, Akron, Throws
Junior, Jeromesville, Ohio (Hillsdale HS)
Brittany Funk placed fourth in the hammer throw at the Texas Relays last week with a personal-record mark of 204-09. With that toss, Funk, who is the MAC's defending hammer throw champion, is currently ranked No. 8 in the country. 
 
Shante’ White, Buffalo, Throws
Senior, Syracuse, NY (Henninger)
At the Toledo Collegiate Challenge, Shante’ White took second in the hammer throw at 184-5 (56.22m) and third in the discus with a season-best 149-0 (45.41m).
 
Devene Brown, Central Michigan, Throws
Freshman, Kingston, Jamaica (st. Hugh's HS)
In smashing fashion, freshman Devene Brown broke the Central Michigan school record in the discus this weekend at the Grand Rapids Open, hosted by Aquinas College. The old record of 162-5 stood little chance versus Brown’s throw of 168-04. This was also a new personal record and a MAC qualifying mark. Brown now ranks 3rd in the MAC, and 20th in the nation (as of 3/30).
 
Alysha Newman, Eastern Michigan, Pole Vault
Freshman, Delaware, Ontario, Canada (Mother Teresa)
Eastern Michigan University’s Alysha Newman finished fifth going against some of the nation’s best pole vaulters in the Pole Vault Invitational at the Stanford Invitational, March 29. Newman leaped 12-feet 6.75-inches for the fifth-best mark in EMU history.
 
Keri Dantley, Kent State, Jumps
Senior, Imperial, Pa. (West Allegheny)
Senior Keri Dantley’s helped Kent State dominate its competition at the Virginia Invitational by winning both the long jump and triple jump. Dantley’s leap of 39’-11.50” is the top mark in the MAC this season and her mark of 18’-09.25” in the long jump ranks third.
 
Sidra Sherrill, Northern Illinois, Throws 
Sophomore, Fort Wayne, Ind. (Northrop HS)
Sherrill posted a strong performance in throws at the Raleigh Relays this weekend. The sophomore tossed 45-03.75 
(13.81m) in the shot put to place sixth ahead of Tiffin's Ashley Dewitt by two inches. In the discus, Sherrill went 131-02 (39.98m) to place 24th in the highly-competitive field.
 
Janiece Rose, Ohio University, Shot Put 
Sophomore, Franklinville, N.J. (Delsea Regional)
Rose won her first event of the 2013 outdoor season by placing first in the shot put Friday at the Winthrop Invitational in Rock Hill, S.C. Rose topped the field of competitors with a 12.68m throw in the finals of the event. Her throw was 0.3 meters longer than the next closest competitor. 
 
Men's Field
Doug Hannon, Buffalo, Jumps
Junior, Tonawanda, NY (Kenmore West)
Doug Hannon won the triple jump at the Toledo Collegiate Challenge with a season-best mark. Hannon took the event with a leap of 47-2.25 (14.38m), increasing his best distance this season by 15 inches. The leap also automatically qualified Hannon for the upcoming MAC Outdoor Championships.
 
Zach Waldron, Eastern Michigan, Jumps
Freshman, Grand Rapids, MI (Northview)
Eastern Michigan University’s Zach Waldron put together two top-10 finishes to open the outdoor season at the Toledo Collegiate Challenge, March 30. Waldron led the Eagles in the high jump, leaping 6-feet 2.75-inches for a fourth-place finish. A 19-feet 6.75-inches mark in the long jump put the freshman on the podium in seventh place. 
 
Matthias Tayala, Kent State, Throws
Sophomore, McDonald, Ohio (McDonald)
Sophomore Matthias Tayala scored 22 points for Kent State by taking first in the hammer throw, second in the discus, and fourth in the shot put at the Virginia Invitational to open the outdoor season. Tayala’s mark of 198’-09” in the hammer throw ranks 31st in the nation, and he is second in the MAC in both the hammer and discus (177’-02”). 
 
John Cantwell, Miami, Jumps
Senior, Holland, Pa. (Council Rock South HS)
Cantwell had the best weekend of his career Saturday at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational, hosted by the University of Cincinnati, as he posted personal bests in both the long jump and the triple jump. He earned second in the long jump in a field of 12 with a leap of 7.26m/23-10, smashing his previous personal best that he set last week by two and a half inches. His jump is by far the top in the MAC this season, over 8.5 inches further than anyone else, while it also qualified him automatically for the MAC Championships. His mark also ranks 48th nationally. In the triple jump, he was third out of seven with a leap of 14.46m/47-5.25, which ranks second in the MAC this season and 83rd nationally. He topped his previous best triple jump by 5.75 inches, which he had also set last week. He qualified for the MAC Championships in the triple jump as well. Cantwell totaled 14 points in the two events to help Miami finish second at the meet while competing against jumpers from Cincinnati, Xavier, Marquette, Northern Kentucky, Butler, Eastern Kentucky and Southeast Missouri State.
 
Women's Track 
Rachel Christian, Akron, Sprints
Sophomore, Columbus, Ohio (Dublin Scioto HS)
Rachel Christian enjoyed a busy weekend in Texas, recording personal records in two events at two different meets. The sophomore first ran 11.88 in the preliminary round of the 100-meters in Austin at the Texas Relays, then clocked a time of 23.85 in the 200-meters in nearby San Marcos at the Bobcat Invitational (Texas State). Her mark in the 200m is ranked No. 1 in the MAC while her time in the 100m is fourth-best in the league. 
 
Brooklynn Ventura, Buffalo, Hurdles
Senior, Waterloo, NY (Waterloo)
At the Toledo Collegiate Challenge, Brooklynn Ventura won the women’s 100-meter hurdles in 13.67 seconds and set a personal best with her 200-meter time of 24.95 seconds to take second. She was also on the second-place 4x100-meter relay team which finished in 46.39 seconds.
 
Asia Rawls, Eastern Michigan, Hurdles/Sprints
Senior, Waterford, MIch. (Waterford Mott)
Eastern Michigan University’s Asia Rawls ran the 400-meter hurdles in 60.00 to finish runner-up at the Stanford Invitational, March 29, competing against national level competition.
 
Taylor Farquhar, Kent State, Sprints
Freshman, Belmont, Ontario (London Central)  
Freshman Taylor Farquhar won the 400-meter hurdles in 1:02.09, which is a qualifying time for the MAC Outdoor Championships. Farquhar also anchored the 4x400 relay team that placed third with a time of 3:46.19, which is third in the conference as well.
 
Diona Graves, Miami, Sprints
Senior, Fenton, Mo. (Kirkwood HS)
Graves had a stellar meet Saturday at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational, hosted by the University of Cincinnati. She won the 100m dash in a field of 15, clocking a time of 11.68, which ties the Miami school record that she first set back in 2011. Her time also is the top 100m dash time in the MAC so far this season and ranks 50th nationally. Her 10 points helped Miami take second at the meet while running against athletes from Cincinnati, Marquette, Dayton, Butler, and Southeast Missouri State. She also helped Miami finish second in the 4x100m relay in 46.02, which is the fourth-best time in school history, as the ‘Hawks were just edged by the Bearcats.
 
Meghan Heuer, Northern Illinois, Sprints
Sophomore, St. Charles, Ill. (St. Charles North HS)
Heuer moved back atop the MAC's performance list in the 1500 meters, while also punching her ticket to the MAC Championships Friday at the Raleigh Relays. The St. Charles, Ill., native took third in Section III of the 1500 meters with a time of 4:31.79, beating out Tennessee's Amirah Johnson and Michigan's Megan Weschler to the line. Heuer's time is nearly two seconds better than second place in the conference and eclipsed the automatic qualifying mark by over 1.5 seconds.

Lindsey Hufnagel, Western Michigan Hurdles
Sophomore. Fowler, Mich. (Fowler HS) 
Hufnagel took first in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:02.66. She also finished fifth in the 100-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 14.52 seconds. The multi talented sophomore also took second place in the long jump with a personal-best distance of 18-08.50.

Men's
Nick Petro, Eastern Michigan, Distance
Redshirt Junior, Monroe, Mich. (Monroe)
Eastern Michigan University’s Nick Petro brought home the lone victory for the Eagles at the Toledo Collegiate Challenge, March 30. Petro ran away from the competition in the 2,000-meter steeplechase, crossing the finish line in 6:10.46, 14 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor which happened to be teammate Cody Chabola. 

Brandon Bailey, Kent State, Sprints
Senior, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Penn Hills)
Senior Brandon Bailey anchored Kent State’s 4x400 relay team that took first place at the Virginia Invitational in a time of 3:15.16. Bailey also clocked a 10.81 to finish sixth in the 100-meter dash, which ranks third in the conference.
 
Jarrod Eick, Miami, Distance
Senior, Hartville, Ohio (Marlington HS)
Eick was victorious in the 5000m run Saturday at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational, hosted by the University of Cincinnati. He won in a time of 14:35.27 in a field of 25 as he won the race by seven seconds. His time is the second-best in the MAC this season despite running it for the first time this year. He earned 10 points to help Miami finish second as a team at the meet while he raced against athletes from Cincinnati, Xavier, Marquette, Northern Kentucky, Butler, Eastern Kentucky and Southeast Missouri State.