Track teams get set to host 2014 MAC Championships

Tyler Kieslich

The Kent State track team has had a season littered with accolades. Three all-time school records were broken and seven Flashes produced conference-best marks for the year. The Flashes will try to add an exclamation point onto an already storied season this weekend at the Mid-American Conference championships.

At last year’s competition in Ypsilanti, the men took third behind Akron and champions Eastern Michigan. The Kent women took first comfortably, winning by a 81-point margin over Eastern Michigan’s female contingent, and will no doubt be looking to repeat that dominance at the Kent State Field House in this year’s event.

It is sure to be a tense environment, with the best athletes in the conference all set to compete against each other. But Kent State assistant coach Nathan Fanger said that it is vital to stay composed despite the pressure.

“The way I approach the conference championships is [that] we’re excited, but you have to stay within yourself,” said Fanger in an interview with “You stay controlled, you go over the visualization in your head. The pressure can’t be so overwhelming that [the athletes] don’t know how to handle it.”

As the current MAC Track Athlete of the Week, sophomore sprinter William Barnes will certainly face pressure of his own. Barnes set the Kent State Field House facility record in the 60-meter hurdles last week at the Kent State Tune Up, setting a time of 7.83 seconds. It was the second-best time in the MAC this year and the 24th fastest in the nation.

“I didn’t know it was going to come right before [the] MACs,” Barnes told “I felt amazing going into that race, and felt like I had something to prove to myself.”

On the women’s side, redshirt-junior sprinter and jumper Ann Marie Duffus will look to follow up her own MAC Track Athlete of the Week performance at the MACs this weekend. Duffus ran a 7.57-second 60-meter dash at the Kent State Tune Up last week, which is the fifth-fastest time in school history.

Duffus’ performance at the Kent State Tune Ups was just the latest in a number of strong performances this season. At the Fred Wilt Invitational at Purdue two weeks ago, Duffus took first in both the 60-meter hurdles and long jump, which followed a second-place performance in the same event at Akron.

Both teams boast a number of athletes who have the capability to do well this weekend, with seven athletes holding top MAC marks in their respective events. Sophomore jumper Dior Delophont has the number-one height in the high jump, sophomore thrower Danniel Thomas has first place in the women’s shot put, Roseanne Erickson and Wayne Gordon own the top slots in the 200-meter dash, and Duffus has the conference-best time in the 60-meter hurdles.

Junior Matthias Tayala, owner of the individual top mark in the men’s weight throw in the MAC this season, said he hopes to defend his title from last season.

“You’ve got to protect your house,” said Tayala. “There’s some good competition in the MAC in the weight. I’d like to defend the weight throw title from last year. It’s a lot better doing it at home.”

Tayala broke a 40-year-old Kent State record in the very first meet of the year when he threw for a 72’2.5” mark in the weight throw. The previous owner of that record was former Olympic athlete Jacques Accambray, who represented France in the 1972 and 1976 games.

This weekend’s action will start Friday with the men’s heptathlon 60-meter dash and the women’s 20-pound weight throw and will continue through Saturday.

Contact Tyler Kieslich at [email protected].