Distance runners shine at Jesse Owens Classic

Jody Michael

The distance runners once again paced the Kent State track and field team at Ohio State’s 25th annual Jesse Owens Classic this weekend, led by second-place finishes in both the men’s and women’s 800-meter run.

Senior Jessica Lhotsky ran a time of 2 minutes, 9.68 seconds to finish as runner up, and junior Destin Heasley followed with a 1:49.17 run that was .12 shy of first place.

Both times were personal bests. Heasley’s mark is also the conference’s best this season and third place in the school record books.

In all, the Flashes earned 21 top-10 finishes throughout the weekend in a meet that brought multiple nationally ranked teams and athletes to Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus.

“We’re where we want to be on the men’s and women’s side,” Kent State coach Bill Lawson said. “I like where we are and if we put in the work these next 10 days, we will fare very well.”

Two weeks remain until the Mid-American Conference Championship Meet in Buffalo, N.Y.

“We have had a few bumps a long the way,” Lawson said, “but pretty much everyone is healthy and it was a good snapshot of where we are going to be in two weeks.”

The next high finish among the Flashes came from sophomore Brian Florek, who took third in the men’s javelin with a throw of 210 feet, 7 inches.

“Florek had a pretty good throw in the javelin after tough conditions last week at Penn,” Lawson said. “It was similar conditions here with terrible head winds to make it hard to keep his grip.”

Two women’s javelin throwers placed in the top 10 as freshman Sara Oczypok (136-7) and junior Bekah Stoltz (129-7) finished in seventh and eighth place, respectively.

“We’re starting to shore things up and I think we will be in a very good position two weeks from now at MACs,” Lawson said of the javelin throwers.

Both men’s relay teams reached the podium as well with third- and fourth-place finishes.

The men’s 4×100-meter relay team of sophomore Princeton Bryson, freshman Nate Scales, senior Curtis Eaton Jr. and junior Steve McLean took third by finishing in 40.64 seconds, less than a quarter of a second behind the winning time from the Akron team.

Then Eaton, junior Matt Moffett and freshmen Javon Walker and Brandon Bailey claimed fourth in the 4×400-meter relay. Their 3:10.73 finish is a season-best in the conference and also ranks fourth in school history.

Diana Dumitrescu continued her strong sophomore season with a 40-2 leap in the triple jump to take fourth place. Fellow sophomore Andreea Patrasc finished fourth in the women’s 400-meter hurdles in 1:00.28.

Bryson, who is looking to win the MAC men’s 200-meter dash title to complement his indoor title in the event, finished fifth in 21.65 seconds.

The team highlight of Friday’s opening races was sophomore Audrey Maheu finishing sixth in the women’s 1,500 meters. Maheu ran a personal-best 4:26.41 that ranks third-best all-time at Kent State.

“Audrey Maheu ran great,” Lawson said. “It was a very good run for her in getting the lifetime PR.”

Among the team’s best throwers this weekend were junior Matt Pfleger and senior James Eric in the men’s hammer throw. Their respective throws of 205-2 and 200-10 placed them seventh and ninth.

“Pfleger and Eric James continue to be very consistent,” Lawson said. “Two weeks from now and for regionals, those guys will be knocking out of the ballpark with good throws.”

Seniors Tony Conner and Brittni Borrero both placed eighth in the discus with respective throws of 170-9 and 167-11.

Also earning top-10 finishes in women’s events were sophomore Ecaterina Gheorghiu in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8th, 10:48.72), senior Juliet Alrich in the 400-meter dash (9th, 55.40) and freshman Domenica Rossi in the pole vault (9th 12-7 1/2).

For the men, senior Aiman Scullion placed eighth in the 5,000-meter run in 14:30.57, and sophomore Dean Wood reached 10th in the high jump by leaping 6-5 1/2.

Lawson said he will take some of the team to the Campbell-Wright Open next weekend.

“I think we will be ready to go,” Lawson said. “I am very pleased at where we are at right now.”

Contact sports reporter Jody Michael at [email protected].