Yeargin puts herself into the Kent State record books


Nicole Yeargin 

Brandon Lewis

Nicole Yeargin ran a personal-best 54:00 in the 400m dash on April 20 at the Virgina Challenge

Saturday at the Tom Jones Memorial at The University of Florida, she broke that record by a second to become the fastest 400m dash racer in Kent State history, beating the previous time set by Shanequa Williams in 2013 by three seconds. Yeargin finished seventh among collegians and 14th overall in a field of runners that included 2016 Olympic gold medalist Shaunae Miller-Uibo.

Assistant Coach Laron Brown credits Yeargin’s ability to be coached as to why she’s been so successful this season.

“She’s one of the most coachable athletes we have,” Coach Brown said. “We have an excellent training program for her, and she does exactly what we want her to do during the week because she knows if she follows our guidance, she’ll be successful every time she’s on the track.”

Not all of the Kent State team competed at the Tom Jones Memorial as half the team competed at the Jesse Owens Classic at Ohio State University (OSU). One of those athletes was Christian Champen who scored a height of 17′-3″ in the men’s pole vault, the second-highest clearance in school history. The junior has cleared at least 16′-11″ in all five outdoor meets this season and also finished fifth in the men’s long jump with a score of  23′-0″

“I was not even expecting to compete because I strained a muscle in my back lifting earlier in the week,” Champen said. “When I warmed up, I felt good though, so I can’t complain about back issues when I came out with a personal-best for the outdoor season.”

Champen’s goal all season has been to reach a height of 18’. He said next week he plans on setting a new goal for himself.

Justin Prack ran a personal-best in the 800m at UF. Coach Brown said he’s an example of a great leader.

“He does everything well,” Coach Brown said. “He’s an extremely hard worker on and off the track. Our entire team loves this guy and wants him to succeed.”

T.J. Lawson participated at OSU and scored 24′-9″ to win the men’s long jump by more than a foot. Lawson’s mark is tied for the eighth-best in Kent State outdoor history. Lawson credits his new form to his success.

“I had always done a static start, but last week I did a running start,” Lawson said. “I wanted to try something different because I did not think the static start was working anymore,” Since it didn’t work, I went back to a static start this week in practice, and I noticed I was dropping too early on my landing, so I cleaned that up, and I did much better.”

Talia Falco participated in the women’s high jump at UF and cleared 5′-8.75″ on her third attempt to finish third. Falco set a personal-best for the second straight week and moved into a tie for sixth on the all time in Kent State history.

Gabby Bailey’s throw of 173′-0″ in the women’s discus ranks eighth in school history, and she added a fourth-place finish in the women’s shot put with a score of 48′-4″.

Craig Stevens, Jr. and Anthony Milliner competed in the men’s triple jump at OSU. Stevens, Jr. placed second among collegiate competitors and sixth overall with a top jump of 52′-0″. Milliner recorded a season-best 49′-2.5″ to finish 10.

Ryan Demaline and DJ Ohlson both claimed fourth-place finishes at OSU. Demaline had a personal-best throw of 55′-7″ in the men’s shot put while Ohlson cleared a season-best height of 6′-6.75″ in the men’s long jump.

Grace Tennant at UF had a top throw of 49′-10″ to place eighth in the women’s shot put championship.

Nicole Fleming set a new personal record by finishing the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a score of 11:09.41 at UF.

Kent State will conclude the regular season next weekend with the Campbell/Wright Invitational on May 3-4.

Brandon Lewis is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]