Fastest, strongest, highest

Cody Erbacher

Men’s team wins first MAC title

VIEW photos from the Mid-American Conference championship.

Coaches and athletes stormed the finish line amid cheers of “K-S-U, K-S-U.”

It was official: The Kent State men’s track and field team had won its first indoor Mid-American Conference championship.

The men finished with a score of 159 points, beating out Eastern Michigan (132) this weekend at the Field House. The women scored 101 points as they placed second, trailing only Akron (126).

“I’m happy for the young men and assistant coaches that worked incredibly hard,” Kent State coach Bill Lawson said. “It’s not personal for me – it’s for the university, athletes and assistant coaches.”

Lawson said the outstanding performance from the team was because of “conference fever.”

“They just got sick with the fever and the athletes ate it up and excelled,” Lawson said.

Sophomore middle-distance runner Destin Heasley, a two-time MAC Athlete of the Week this season, finished more than a second ahead of the pack to win in the 800-meter run.

Heasley placed first with a time of 1 minute, 50.55 seconds.

Heasley said teammate Tony Jordanek, senior distance runner, was a huge help in his victory because of the extra pressure Jordanek added. Jordanek outleaned Eastern Michigan junior Nathan Blackwell at the finish to take third.

In the sprints, junior Curtis Eaton successfully defended his 400-meter dash title from last season.

Eaton won the 400 with a time of 47.90 seconds and placed third in the 200-meter dash in 21.47.

Heasley and Eaton teamed up with freshman sprinter Princeton Bryson and sophomore sprinter Matt Moffett to win the 4×400 meter relay with a time of 3:12.01.

These results were great for the individuals, but to win the championship all athletes had to contribute with good results, sprinting coach Steven Rajewsky said.

“At a meet like this, once things start going it can just snowball,” he said. “It gets the athletes jacked up and motivated.”

During the men’s mile run, a pack of Kent State runners tallied 18 points for the Flashes. Jordanek placed second, sophomore John Minen placed third and sophomore Scott Hilditch placed fourth.

“The mile really broke up Eastern Michigan and set the tone for the day,” Rajewsky said.

Rajewsky said the championship was a result of hard work and great performances this season, but it has been in the making for years.

“It’s a combination of the last four years,” he said. “This is an exciting opportunity.

“Hopefully this is a start of something good to continue to move forward. I think people are going to believe now.”

The women’s team benefited from three first-place performances.

Senior thrower LeVania Henderson dominated the field with her throw of 54 feet, 0.50 inches in shot put. This throw beat out the second-place finisher by more than a foot.

“I was surprised because I haven’t been doing as good during my previous throws,” Henderson said.

Joining Henderson in victory were the women’s distance medley relay team and freshman Diana Dumitrescu in the triple jump.

The distance medley team of freshman Audrey Maheu, senior Rachel Crafton, junior Jessica Lhotsky and junior Kelly Gephart beat Miami’s team by over three seconds, coming in at 11:43.56.

Dumitrescu won in the triple jump and scored 10 points with a distance of 40-3.50.

Solid performances also came from sophomore Kim Preston and junior Erin Ferut in the pole vault competition. Preston placed fifth and Ferut placed eighth.

The Kent State athletes said the MAC title means a lot to them.

“We’ve finally evolved into a championship program,” Eaton said.

Contact sports correspondent Cody Erbacher at [email protected].