The Kent State men’s and women’s track and field teams will head to Columbus this weekend to meet Ohio State and 34 other collegiate teams at the annual Jesse Owens Track Classic.
This two-day meet, held at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, was created in honor of Jesse Owens, an Ohio State sprinter who broke racial barriers during 1930s and went on to become a four-time Olympic gold medalist at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
This weekend’s meet is an open meet that will showcase talented athletes from all levels, including collegiate and post-collegiate athletes.
Bill Lawson, Kent State track and field head coach, said the feel of the meet will be a more relaxed one, with athletes focusing more on individual improvement and less on team scoring, points and placing.
“In a meet like this, a lot of kids won’t double race,” Lawson said. “They’ll concentrate on one race, and the teams aren’t worried about amassing a lot of team points. They’re trying to better their performances.”
The men’s and women’s teams are coming off of first place and runner-up finishes, respectively, at the All-Ohio Track and Field Championships hosted by Ohio last week.
The men’s team has been showing a lot of promise as of late by “making a statement” – as senior sprinter Brandon Bailey put it last week – at the All-Ohio meet. Lawson
said a repeat of their performance this weekend will all depend on the weather.
“If it’s cold and raining, nobody’s [going to] run fast,” Lawson said. “Our men’s team has really moved forward. It’s very positive, and if it’s some decent weather this weekend, we’ll throw down some better times and some better marks.”
If the weather does hold up, Lawson said he anticipates an exciting meet from his team this weekend. He said he expects to see the men’s and women’s 4 x 100 and 4 x 400-meter relay teams, as well as the throwing teams, come into their own.
“You see our women’s 4 x 1 and 4 x 4 move forward this weekend,” Lawson said. “You can see our men’s 4 x 1 and 4 x 4 move forward this weekend. Our throwers are also having phenomenal performances.”
Lawson said he was excited to get sophomore sprinter Chanitta Westbrooks back into the mix last weekend after she had been out of action for three weeks due to injury, and said he will be excited again to see a number of other Golden Flashes get back on track this weekend, including sophomore Ann Marie Duffus and junior Katie Reiser.
“There was initial injury for Reiser and just kind of wear and tear on [Duffus],” Lawson said.
For the past couple of meets, especially at the All-Ohio meet, Lawson has rested a few athletes to prevent injuries they can sustain during the long season. Lawson said he thinks his team is now healthy and ready to go come Friday.
“Everybody’s starting to get healthy and we’ll start competing more and more people as the season goes on,” Lawson said. “I look forward to having good performances across the board, both men and women.”
The Jesse Owens Track Classic will begin Friday at 4 p.m. with the women’s javelin and men’s discus throws. Running events will kick off the same day at 8 p.m. under the lights with the women’s 5,000-meter run.
Saturday’s events begin at 10:30 a.m.
Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected]