Flashes ready for tune-up meet before MAC Championships

Senior sprinter Brandon Bailey runs the mens 60 meter dash on Feb. 16, 2013 during the Kent State Tune Up track and field meet at the field house. Bailey placed first with a 6.88 second run. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Senior sprinter Brandon Bailey runs the men’s 60 meter dash on Feb. 16, 2013 during the Kent State Tune Up track and field meet at the field house. Bailey placed first with a 6.88 second run. Photo by Matt Hafley.

Richie Mulhall

Kent State will head over to Akron’s Lee R. Jackson Track and Field Complex this weekend to compete in the Campbell-Wright Invitational, an invitational meet serving as a tune-up to prep the team for one of the biggest meets of the season.

As the Mid-American Championships come ever closer, the track and field team has been gearing up for all-MAC competition for weeks. Head coach Bill Lawson said his team plans to use the two-day Campbell-Wright Open to fine-tune some things before stepping into the 13-team field next week.

“The main purpose of this meet is to go over to Akron and compete one more time,” Lawson said. “It’s kind of like our tune-up we host indoors before our indoor championships. It’s the same thing here, just tune up some final things they’ve been working on.”

Lawson said the athletes this weekend won’t necessarily be trying to set personal records or compete in multiple events like last weekend at the Penn Relays. Lawson said the main focus at the Campbell-Wright Open is to “keep the rhythm” going and get a feel for the competition one last time before the MAC Championships.

Both the men’s and women’s teams are coming off outstanding performances last week at the 119th annual Penn Relays. In the meet, a number of young Flashes underscored the team’s hard-fought efforts, including up-and-coming sophomore thrower Matthias Tayala, who was just recently named the MAC’s Field Athlete of the Week for the second time this season.

Last week, Tayala won the College Men’s Hammer Throw Championship and placed second in the College Men’s Discus Throw Championship. Lawson said Tayala’s first-place finish in the hammer was the culmination of the team’s Penn Relays achievements and called his throwing performance “the biggest performance of the weekend.”

“It’s been progressively getting better and better, and that’s what I try to do every season since high school,” Tayala said. “Right now my hammer has been coming great, and I’ve been throwing right where I want to be.”

Tayala’s hammer throw last week, which was 217 feet, 8 inches, now ranks seventh among Kent State’s all-time hammer throw records and eighth in the nation. Tayala said his spots in the history books are true testaments to how great Kent State’s throwing program has been.

“[At] some schools, you break a record for the school, but you’re not even top 50 in the country,” Tayala said. “Being seventh in school history and eighth in the country, that shows a lot [about] how strong the school is for the throwing side. I’m excited to move up the list through the next couple years.”

Tayala feels he is peaking at the right time and will be ready when the MAC Championships arrive.

“The MAC meet next week is one meet that I really have on my calendar circled,” Tayala said. “I’m excited for it and glad I’m throwing well at this time in the year.”

Lawson said Tayala and the rest of his team are healthy, peaking at the right time and will be ready to go come Friday.

“If we can get through one more weekend with a couple improved performances, it should put both teams in a good position to be ready to challenge for the titles on both sides,” Lawson said.

Friday’s action will kick off first with the women’s and men’s hammer throws at 3:30 p.m. Saturday’s throwing events will begin at 11 a.m. with the women’s and men’s javelin throws. Running events will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday with a special community 10,000-meter race and will pick up again at 2 p.m. with the women’s and men’s 3,000-metter steeplechase. A detailed schedule and list of events for the Campbell-Wright Open can be seen below.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].