Kent State athletics finish respective seasons strong, multiple NCAA appearances

Jenna Kuczkowski

Baseball team to play their final home game of the season

The Flashes (33-14) play their final home game of the season against Youngstown State University (15-36) Tuesday night at 6 p.m.

Kent State is 67-21-1 all-time against Youngstown State. The Penguins have dropped their last eight games, including two at Oakland University on Sunday and two at home against Northern Kentucky University on Saturday.

Kent State needs to win one game at Ohio University this coming week to clinch the No.1 seed in the Mid-American Conference championship.

In addition, the team is also leading the conference in ERA, opposing batting average, hits allowed, runs allowed, walks allowed and slugging percentage while ranking second in batting average, total bases, sacrifice flies and batters struck out

Individually, senior Luke Burch leads in batting average, runs scored, on-base percentage and is second in hits. While sophomore Joey Murray leads the MAC in ERA, strikeouts, opponent average and is second in wins.

Women’s softball advance to NCAA Regionals

After becoming the Mid-American Conference Tournament champions, the Kent State softball team is headed to Waco, Texas, for the NCAA Waco Regional this weekend, May 19-21.

The Flashes (32-26) earned the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Waco Regional and will play Baylor University, who is the No. 15 national seed, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Getterman Stadium. 

To earn their spot in regionals, the team won three games on Saturday to capture its third MAC Tournament crown. This will be the fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.

Regionals will be held May 18-21 on 16 campus sites across the country. Each will have four-team, double-elimination tournament and the 16 winning teams advance to the Super Regionals.

Super Regionals for the championship will be held May 25-28 on eight campus sites. At each site, two teams play in a best-of-three tournament format. The winners from each site advance to the NCAA Women’s College World Series.

Kent State men’s golf currently tied for 4th in the NCAA Washington regional

Kent State men’s golf team (No.12) completed round one at the NCAA Washington Regional at par 71 Aldarra Golf Club Monday.

The Flashes collectively shot 3-over par at 287 Monday, tying with No. 13 Texas A&M University in fourth place. The top-5 teams in the field after three rounds will advance to the NCAA National Championship. No. 24 Florida State University leads the field at 6-under par, while San Diego State University and Penn State University are just outside of the top-5 at 8-over par.

Senior Josh Whalen leads the Flashes at 1-under par 70. He is tied for 10th and is six strokes off the lead. A stroke behind Whalen is sophomore Gisli Sveinbergsson, who’s even par score is tied for 14th overall.

Junior Ian Holt and Sophomore Bjarki Petursson each tied for 27th at 2-over par 73. Holt had a rough start on the first hole, but went on to shoot 2-under par over the rest of the course with four birdies. Petursson recorded three birdies Monday and was under par after nine holes.

Women’s golf qualifies for nationals

The No. 15 Kent State women’s golf team has qualified for the 2017 NCAA National Championship after finishing the NCAA Lubbock Regional in sixth place at 11-over par 875.

Kent State entered the day tied with No. 2 University of California, Los Angeles in sixth place but held its ground and fought off a tough battle from Oregon State University. The Beavers shot 10-under par Wednesday and briefly moved ahead of the Flashes, but Kent State recorded five birdies as a team over the final six holes, despite some late winds, to secure a two-stroke lead in sixth.

The Flashes join tournament champions No. 7 Arizona State University, No. 10 Furman University, Oregon, No. 18 University of Texas and hosts Texas Tech in the NCAA National Championship. This is their first appearance as a team since 2010. The national final will be held May 19-24 at Rich Harvest Farms, in Sugar Grove, Illinois, hosted by Northern Illinois University.

Individually, the Flashes were led by a pair of freshmen in the top-10. Pimnipa Panthong finished in fourth place at 5-under par 211, three strokes off a regional championship. She had her best round of the week with a 3-under 69, with four birdies.

Karoline Stormo was one off matching her career-best mark Wednesday, tying Panthong for the day at 69. After a 77 in round one, Stormo was the Flashes’ top performer and finished eighth at 2-under par 214.

Sophomore Kelly Nielsen put the cap on a successful postseason run with the best performance of her collegiate career. Competing in her first NCAA Regional, Nielsen matched her career-best score of 2-over par 74. She ended the day with 17 holes of par or better. Nielsen finished tied for 72nd at 16-over par 232.

Men’s Track and Field finishes fourth in MAC championship

Kent State’s men’s track and field finished the 2017 Mid-American Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships in fourth, registering a total of 112 points. Individually, senior Reggie Jagers III and sophomore AJ Stevens captured championships in the discus and triple jump, respectively.

Jagers won his second gold medal of the weekend, throwing 61.49m (201′ 8.75″) in the discus, establishing a championship and Kanley Track & Field Complex record. Freshman Trevor Detillion placed fifth in the discus with a throw of 51.82m (170′ 0″), followed by junior David Paliscak in 14th at 43.90m (144′ 0.25″).

In the triple jump, Stevens recorded a career-best mark of 16.06m (52′ 8.25″) to claim his first-career MAC Championship.  Stevens’ mark ranks third in Kent State history and is currently tied for the 17th best mark in the country. Sophomore Samory Fraga and junior Abdul-Nasser Seidu took seventh and eighth in the triple, posting marks of 14.13m (46′ 4.25″) and 14.02m (45′ 11.75″), respectively.   

Sophomore DJ Ohlson turned in a career-best performance in the high jump, clearing the bar at 2.09m (6′ 10.25″) to finish runner-up in the competition. Seidu placed fourth in the high jump, tying a personal-best mark of 2.05m (6′ 8.5″).

Junior Dairius Ragland also collected a runner-up finish, taking second-place in the 110m hurdles with a dive at the finish line for a time of 14.41 seconds. Senior Richard Dahome took fourth in the event with a time of 14.63 seconds.

In the 400m dash, freshman Jason Drake finished third with a time of 47.67 seconds, followed by senior Matthew Tobin in fifth-place at 48.89 seconds. Senior Brian Smith competed in the 100m and 200m dashes, taking sixth and fifth with times of 10.64 seconds and 21.72 seconds, respectively.

The 4x400m relay team of Drake, Smith, freshman Christan Champen and freshman TJ Lawson took fifth-place with a time of 3:21.45.

Lawson, accumulated a personal-best 7,640 points to earn the Decathlon Championship Friday afternoon.

Lawson took first in the 110m hurdles and the javelin on Friday, adding to his four decathlon victories from Thursday.  Lawson recorded a personal-best time of 14.87 in the 110m hurdles en route to becoming the fourth Flash to win a MAC title in the decathlon.

Kent State’s season continues when the Flashes travel to Lexington, Kentucky, May 25-27 for the NCAA East Regional Championships.

Women’s track places third in MAC championship

Kent State’s women’s track and field team took third-place at the 2017 Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships Saturday, as they scored a total of 118.5 points. Graduate student Danniel Thomas and the women’s 4x400m relay team secured individual championships, bringing the Flashes’ weekend total to four.   

Thomas earned her second championship of the weekend, taking the discus title with a meet record mark of 59.31m (194′ 7″).  Taking fourth in the discus was sophomore Jai’lyn Mosley with a mark of 48.98m (160′ 8″).

The women’s 4x400m relay team comprised of junior Tyler Williams, senior Jorian Ordway, senior Lauren Burnett and senior Taylor Farquhar turned in a time of 3:41.23, to claim the fourth 4×400 MAC Championship in program history and the first since 2002. Farquhar also competed in the 400m hurdles, taking third-place with a time of 59.02 seconds.

The University of Akron won the women’s championship with 128 points, followed by Eastern Michigan University (124), Kent State (118.5), Northern Illinois University (84.5), Miami University (74), University of Toledo (63), Bowling Green State University (60), Western Michigan University (53), University at Buffalo (48) and Central Michigan University (26).

Kent State will compete in the NCAA East Regional Championships in Lexington, Kentucky, May 25-27.

Football recruits three transfers

The Kent State football program recently announced the addition of three transfers to its 2017 signing class. The Flashes signed offensive lineman Nate Warnock along with defensive linemen Devante Lee and Jordan Robinson.

Warnock played six games for St. Joseph’s College. The 290-pound native of LaPorte, Indiana, has three years of eligibility.  A graduate of LaPorte High School, Warnock was an IFCA Class 6A First Team choice and competed in the 6A All-Star Game. Warnock was also an All-Duneland Athletic Conference First Team selection.

Robinson possesses two years of eligibility after playing two seasons at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas. A 257-pound native of Jefferson City, Missouri, he tallied four sacks and forced two fumbles at Fort Scott.

At 290 pounds, Lee brings the ability to play in multiple spots on the line. He began his collegiate career at Western Michigan University and most recently played at Southern Illinois University. The Chicago native graduated from Simeon High School, where he earned all-city honors. Lee tallied four sacks with two forced fumbles for Southern Illinois and has one year of eligibility.

Kent State’s incoming class now includes 25 players from 12 different states.

Jenna Kuczkowski is the managing editor, contact her at [email protected].