Kent State men conquer Buckeye state with All-Ohio crown; women finish second

Junior distance runner Paige Foster runs in the womens mile during the Kent State Tune Up track and field meet in the field house on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. Foster placed 11th with a 5:22.54 . Photo by Matt Hafley.

Junior distance runner Paige Foster runs in the women’s mile during the Kent State Tune Up track and field meet in the field house on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. Foster placed 11th with a 5:22.54 . Photo by Matt Hafley.

Richie Mulhall

The Kent State men’s track and field team placed first and women’s team placed second at the two-day 2013 All-Ohio Track and Field Championships hosted at Ohio’s Goldsberry Track.

After finishing the first day of competition with a 22-point deficit against Akron, the men’s team came back Saturday to defeat Akron and the other 12 Ohio teams with 216 points. Head coach Bill Lawson told his men’s squad in a team meeting that this meet was a good step forward for the guys. He said the men needed to learn to win again and finish meets strong, and their team effort allowed them to accomplish just that.

“We’ve noticed a turn in our men’s team over the past couple of weeks, some positive attitudes, people getting healthy and I think there’s a really upbeat set of emotions right now on the men’s squad and I think they felt good coming off of that,” Lawson said.

Lawson said his men’s team is at a point where they are “smelling the finish line.” He said he and the coaching staff have done a good job showing the team the way to succeed.

“They are starting to believe and there’s a lot of camaraderie within the groups,” Lawson said. “They’re supporting one another and the guys are believing. This is the first time in the last few years that they’re believing as much or more than the coaches, and like we say, you can’t want it more than the kids.”

Nine men, including the men’s 4 by 100 relay team consisting of freshman Wayne Gordon, junior Cody Seifert, freshman William Barnes and junior Nate Scales, took home individual, first-place titles this weekend. Senior Brandon Bailey won the 400-meter dash in 47.67 seconds and said he thought he ran his best open since he’s been in college and cannot ask for much more. He said he was especially happy for they way his team competed as well.

“As a team we really made a statement, especially beating Akron,” Bailey said. “I would say it was a great thing for us.”

Lawson said he thought sophomore Jacob Swords was one guy in particular who had a great meet. He defeated two runners from Akron who were ranked ahead of him in the 800-meter dash. Later on in the meet, Lawson said Swords also ran a “tremendous leg” of the 4 by 400-meter relay.

On the women’s side, they battled back from a fourth-place standing on the first day to earn a runner-up spot by the end of day two. The team finished the meet with 148 points, which was second to Ohio State’s 212.

Lawson said there were so many women on the team who did a great job this weekend and carried over their great success from the indoor straight into the outdoor season. He praised freshman and two-time All-American Dior Delophont for her win in the triple jump, junior Shanequa Williams for her carry in the 4 by 100-meter relay and the entire women’s throws crew, including Joh’vonnie Mosely, who placed first in the shot put with a toss of 16.08 meters.

One performance Lawson was especially impressed with, though, was sophomore Chanitta Westbrooks’ gutsy win in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.26 seconds. Lawson said Westbrooks has been injured for a while and it was good to see her back on the track not only competing again, but also winning again.

“That was her first race back in three weeks, and we were really pleased to see her go around the track the way she did,” Lawson said. “Really that’s her second-fastest time other than her final race at the [Mid-American Conference] Championships a year ago.”

Lawson said at the All-Ohio Championships, Kent State and a number of other schools like Ohio State and Akron rested many of their top athletes. Lawson said as the long season progresses, some athletes need the rest from time to time to be fresh and healthy for meets like the MAC or NCAA Championships at the end of the season.

“The people that are the most healthy are the ones that are going to perform the best, thus why we protected a number of our kids this past weekend,” Lawson said. “I was happy we did as well as we did. We just let the meet unfold as it unfolded and at the end of the day the men won and the women were second. We weren’t necessarily trying to win or lose on either side. We were just competing.”

The Flashes will return to action Friday and Saturday for the annual Jesse Owens Classic hosted by Ohio State in Columbus.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].