Eastern Michigan University’s men’s track and field team emerged victorious over the weekend in the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Track and Field championships, earning its 22nd MAC Championship title in program history.
The men improved upon their third-place finishes in both the the 2014 MAC Indoor Championships and the 2013 MAC Outdoor Championships.
The EMU women’s track and field team also improved upon their finish in last year’s MAC Outdoor Championship with a third-place finish.
The men’s team (198.5) squared off against five other institutions over the course of the three-day event, including the defending MAC champion the University of Akron (180.5), Kent State University (157), the University at Buffalo (138), Central Michigan University (70), and Miami University (69).
The men entered the MAC Championships as the highest-ranked team according to the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) in the 35th spot, dropping from a season-high 26th last week.
The first day of the competition began on a high note for the men with the breaking of an EMU record. After setting the new program standard in his first appearance of the season at the Oliver Nikoloff Invitational on March 28, junior Keith Williams added over 7 feet onto his personal record in the hammer throw. Williams threw for a distance of 60.14 meters/197 feet 4 inches to take fourth in the event and become the first Eagle to break the 60-meter mark.
Redshirt-freshman Willy Fink closed out the first day of competition as the first Eagle to be crowned a MAC champion at the meet. Fink earned a victory in the 10,000m run when he finished over four seconds ahead of Miami’s David Wing in 30:20.34.
The second day of competition began with the final five events of the decathlon. All three EMU competitors earned a top-10 finish, led by junior Solomon Ijah in fourth with 7,050 points and followed by junior Levi Selvig’s fifth-place finish and personal-best 6,832 points. Sophomore Zach Waldron rounded out the group with a career-high 6,548 points and eighth-place finish. All three men had several personal-bests in various events.
The second MAC champion of the men’s meet was also crowned on day two. Redshirt-junior Donald Scott added over two feet nine inches to his personal record to win the championship title in the long jump with a leap of 7.57 meters/24 feet 10 inches. Scott who is the current national leader in the triple jump earned a berth to the NCAA East Regional meet in the long jump, while also recording the sixth-farthest jump in EMU history.
Starting off the final day of the competition in third place, the Green and White won a total of five events on Saturday, beginning with Scott who claimed his second gold medal of the meet. He was victorious in the triple jump leaping almost a foot more than his nearest competitor with a distance of 15.52 meters/50 feet 11 inches.
The Eagle men notched yet another final day victory with a near-record time in the 4×100m relay. The team of sophomore Cameron Bolton, freshman Jeff Elam, junior Chris Scott, and freshman Tyler Brown won in 40.01 seconds, just .03 seconds off the EMU record that the quartet set earlier in the season at the Drake Relays. The team finished .29 seconds over Kent State’s lineup.
EMU’s Brown stood at the top of the podium after he ran his second of four events for the day, winning the 400m in 46.30 seconds. Miles Dunlap of Kent and Brent Gray of Akron were hot on his heels but he was able to push through the finish line to claim the second 400m MAC title of his career after taking home the championship in the indoor season.
Senior Grzegorz Kalinowski also was crowned first, finishing the 800m run with a personal best of 1:48.44, the eighth-best time in program history. Another exciting finish in the race went to sophomore Scott Bradley who trailed the leaders throughout the first 600 meters of the race. He moved his way up the ranks until he crossed the finish line for a second place finish in a personal-best time of 1:50.10.
The EMU men went into the last event of the competition with a 16-point advantage. The Eagles’ men claimed this final event with the team of Bolton, Brown, Elam, and sophomore Mason Waynes in the 4×400m relay. A tremendous effort by Waynes in the second half of his 400m leg pushed the team in to the lead and put Brown in prime position to cap off the race at anchor. Brown was neck-and-neck with Akron’s Gray, but pulled ahead to take the victory for the Green and White in 3:09.79, just .11 seconds ahead of Akron.
In addition to the men’s team victory, Brown was honored as the co-MVP of the event along with Kent State’s Matthias Tayala and coach John Goodridge was named the Coach of the Year.
Scott took a moment to congratulate his team.
“I just want to let everyone on the Eastern Michigan Eagle team know that I am so very proud of them,” he said. “Every single one of these guys that came out here today fought their hearts out, and we deserve it.”
The women’s team also had many personal records in their third place finish (100.5).
They competed in Athens, Ohio May 15-17. They took on 11 other teams: Kent State University (132), The University of Akron (127), the University at Buffalo (87.5), Western Michigan University (70), Central Michigan University (63), Bowling Green (60), Miami University (57), Northern Illinois University (42), Ohio University (41), the University of Toledo (37), and Ball State University (1).
The first day of the women’s MAC Championships marked the first of two days for the heptathlon. Senior Sarah Chauchard finished the first day by setting personal bests in all her events to sit in a tie for first with Emma Siuciak of Buffalo, both with 3,347 points. Chauchard placed in the top-four of each events with a winning finish in the shot put (12.58 meters/41 feet 3.25 inches).
Chauchard went on to take the first MAC championship crown of the women’s meet with a win on the second day in the heptathlon.
She had a personal best with 5,574 points, breaking the MAC meet record and landing the second-best score in EMU program history. Chauchard won the first two events on day two, jumping 5.64 meters/18 feet 6-inches in the long jump and setting a personal record in the javelin throw at 36.82 meters/120 feet 10 inches. She went into the final event with a 92-point lead over Buffalo’s Siuciak and established her position atop the rankings with a runner-up finish in the 800 m and a personal-best 2:15.94.
The eve of the second day ended with another crowning of a MAC champion for the women.
Junior Victoria Voronko broke her own EMU record en route to a victory in the 3,000m steeplechase despite the onset of rain during the race. Voronko finished in 10:05.94 winning by over four seconds.
Voronko also became the first MAC champion of the final day of the events in the 1,500m run. She finished in 4:25.77 for her second MAC crown of the meet. Success also came for the Green and White as sophomore Aailiyah McKinney set a personal record and a victory in the 100m dash. She crossed the line at 11.79 to win in an upset over Bowling Green’s Jeanette Pettigrew.
Voronko won an additional honor at the competition as she was awarded co-MVP along with Dior Delophont of Kent State, as both scored 28 points for their respective teams.
“I am proud of the team,” women’s coach Sue Parks said. “I think that we performed as well as we possibly could. The girls battled hard, and we came away with five MAC titles and many personal bests. The girls gave it everything they had, and I’m pleased with the finish and hope that we can build on this success as we strive to win MAC titles in the future. We had many highlights, but the double wins by Voronko and McKinney, the MAC record by Chauchard, and the incredible high jump performance by Wolanin definitely stand out.”
The Eagles’ men and women will continue their 2014 campaigns as their respective regional qualifiers will head to the NCAA East Regional, May 29-31 in Jacksonville, Fla.