Eastern Michigan University’s men’s track and field team competed in its last day of competition for the NCAA East Regionals on Saturday, May 31. At the end of the day, the Green and White had seven athletes who notched qualifying marks over three days for the NCAA Championship.
The NCAA Championship qualifiers include senior Max Babits, junior Cameron Bolton, freshman Tyler Brown, sophomore Jeff Elam, senior Grzegorz Kalinowski, sophomore Mason Waynes, and senior Donald Scott. The Eagles will have representation in the 4×400m relay, 1500m run, triple jump, and pole vault.
On the last day of competition, following the recent trend of weather delays, the pole vault competition got off to a late start. However it did not take long for Babits to stand out from the competition, earning the fifth seed with a vault of 5.32 meters/17 feet 5.50-inches.
Babits cleared the vault with ease, and did not need to attempt a greater height due to the rest of the field, save for the qualifiers, being eliminated from contention. With his advancement, Babits is the only member of the Green and White to qualify for the national championships in both indoor and outdoor campaigns this year.
The next event for the Green and White was also in the field, but resulted in a quick elimination of senior Aaron Benton in the high jump. Benton cleared the initial height of 2.00 meters/6 feet 6.75-inches, but was unable to move on to the next stage of the competition, falling in all three of his next attempts at 2.05 meters/6 feet 8.75-inches.
Success did not follow in the first track event either, as the team of Bolton, Brown, Elam, and senior Chris Scott finished the 4×100m relay in 40.10 seconds, only to fall to 19th in a fiercely competitive field.
The Green and White had more success in their next run as Kalinowski achieved a qualifying mark in the 1500m run, giving the senior his first NCAA Championships appearance of his career. He had competed in the previous two regional meets, but had come up short of making it to Eugene both times.
This year, he was able to finish with a time of 3:45.89, grabbing a qualifying spot. The field in the event was packed with so much talent that every one of the qualifying times fell within a margin of just over three-quarters of a second, while the final qualifier edged out the 13th-place runner by one-hundredth of a second.
In the following event, redshirt freshman Willy Fink and redshirt junior Harry Dixon were unable to repeat their strong performance at the Mid-American Conference Championships in the 5000m run. Fink paced Dixon, finishing in 14:58.55 ahead of his teammate’s mark of 15:40.65.
But, the Eagles were able to finish the NCAA East Regional on a high note thanks to Bolton, Brown, Elam, and Waynes as the quartet of runners took third in their heat to secure a qualifying mark in the 4×400m relay, crossing the line at 3:05.93.
Their time ranks second in EMU laurels behind only the 1988 lineup of Dazel Jules, Willie Jenkins, Chuck Wilson, and Carl Johnson, which went on to a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships.
The seven athletes that qualified for the NCAA Championship will now have nearly two weeks in preparation before heading to Oregon for the four-day event, which will take place June 11-14.