Kent State women win third straight MAC title, men take second

Kent State Senior Laron Brown III competes in the mens 4x400 Relay during the 2014 Indoor Track and Field MAC Championship, Sat., March 1, 2014. The mens team placed second in the MAC Championship.

Paul R Csizmadia / Csizmadia Pho

Kent State Senior Laron Brown III competes in the men’s 4×400 Relay during the 2014 Indoor Track and Field MAC Championship, Sat., March 1, 2014. The men’s team placed second in the MAC Championship.

Tyler Kieslich

Before the Mid-American Conference indoor track championships were held at the Field House in Kent this weekend, junior thrower Matthias Tayala said it would be crucial to “protect your house.”

By the conclusion of the events on Saturday, the women’s team had won its third conference title in a row, the men had secured second place after a close battle with rival Akron, and it seemed that the Flashes had done just that.

Kent State and Akron asserted themselves as the top two track programs in the MAC, as the crosstown adversaries finished one-two in both the men’s and the women’s competitions. It was the third men’s title in four years for Akron, whose coach Dennis Mitchell was named Men’s Indoor Coach of the Year for the eighth time in his 19-year career.

It was the fourth women’s title in eight years under Kent State Director of Track and Field Bill Lawson.

“We are unbelievably proud of the team,” Lawson said in an interview with “These ladies always do what they do and rally to get the job done.”

Lawson was named 2014 MAC Women’s Coach of the year after four members of the women’s team were crowned conference champions.

The ladies started strong and never relented. On the first day of competition, it was an all-Flashes podium in the long jump. Junior sprinter and jumper Roseanne Erickson took first after a 6.ll-meter jump. She was closely followed by senior sprinter and jumper Ann Marie Duffus, who took second after a jump of 6.09 meters. Sophomore jumper Dior Delophont finished third, with a mark of 6.02 meters.

Despite the clean sweep, the women were still down by seven points in the overall team standings at the end of the first day of events.

By the end of the second day, however, the women’s team had taken first and amassed a 29-point lead over second-place Akron.

Duffus and Delophont were crowned champions in the 60-meter hurdles and the high jump, respectively. Sophomore thrower Danniel Thomas took first in the shot, setting a personal best with a throw of 16.51 meters. Senior Joh’Vonnie Mosley and junior Jackie Leppelmeier finished third and fourth in the same event.

On the men’s side, sophomore sprinter Wayne Gordon was granted the Most Outstanding Track Performance award for his record-setting performance in the 200-meter dash. Gordon’s time of 20.74 seconds set the new Kent State standard and bested a mark set in 2000 by Bobby Cruse.

Gordon also finished second in the 60-meter dash, which was won by Kent State freshman Riak Reese.

Reese ran a time of 6.73 in the finals of the 60-meter dash. He also finished second in the 200-meter dash.

Matthias Tayala, who earlier this season set the all-time Kent State record in the weight throw, was unable to repeat as champion but did take second in the event. After fouling on five of his six throws in the final, Tayala’s mark of 20.19 meters on his lone scored throw was surpassed only by Buffalo senior Evan Palmer’s throw of 20.91 meters.

Junior Miles Dunlap took second in the 400-meter dash before he helped the 4×400-meter relay team finish third in the last event of the day. Their time of 3:11.47 was the third-best in Kent State history.

The victorious Akron team edged out an eight-point advantage over the Flashes. The Zips collected six individual championships, including two from junior Kyle Cochrun. His wins in both the 3,000 and 5,000-meter races helped Cochrun earn the MAC Men’s Most Valuable Performer award.

In eight years under Lawson, the men’s team has now had a top-two finish in six of them.

Next in store for the Flashes are the NCAA National Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which are set to start on Friday, March 14.

Contact Tyler Kieslich at [email protected].