Track and field shines in different states

Cody Erbacher

The Kent State track and field team split up this weekend, but the separation didn’t keep some athletes from turning in solid performances.

Fourteen athletes traveled to Fayetteville, Ark., to compete in the Tyson Invitational, and the rest of the team competed in the Akron Open.

Kent State coach Bill Lawson felt the trip to Fayetteville was a good experience for the athletes who went.

“It was a good trip to expose our young athletes to national competition,” Lawson said.

A standout performance from the Tyson Invitational came from the men’s 4×400-meter relay team of freshman Princeton Bryson, sophomore Matthew Moffett, sophomore Destin Heasley and junior Curtis Eaton Jr.

The relay team placed third and set a school record with its time of 3 minutes, 11.06 seconds. This time was just .66 seconds away from a provisional national qualifying time.

Lawson said Bryson didn’t have a great start when he had a time of 6.95 seconds in the preliminary round of the 60-yard dash.

He started to turn things around when he ran the 200-meter dash.

Bryson had a lifetime personal best and conference-best time of 21.35. He also led the mile relay team with a time of 47.5.

Although Bryson and the relay team didn’t have a provisional national qualifying mark, junior Jessica Lhotsky did in the women’s 800-meter run. Lhotsky placed fourth in the race with a time of 2:08.15.

Lawson said more than the runners stood out to him in Fayetteville, as freshman Kim Preston and junior Jeremy Brading turned in good pole vault performances.

Despite being forced to borrow a pole after hers broke during warmups, Preston tied her personal record, jumping 11 feet, 7.75 inches.

“Breaking a pole and not landing squarely on the pick can shake you up a little bit,” said Lawson. “But she went out there and tied a personal best.”

Preston said she was happy with the performance but thinks she can get better as the season goes on.

“I’m very excited to tie a personal best, but I’m still looking to jump a little higher,” Preston said.

On the men’s side of things Brading jumped 16-0.75 and placed 10th.

“It was not his best, but he’s been struggling for a couple of weeks, so I’m very happy to see Jeremy on the runway jumping well,” Lawson said.

The rest of the team was at the Akron Open, and it also performed well.

“The athletes are finally starting to get into their groove,” assistant coach Philip Rickaby said.

Rickaby said the two performances in pole vault really stood out for him.

Sophomore Susan Echard placed fifth with a vault of 11-10.50. This was a season best for her. Freshman Derek Hopkins vaulted for the men and placed first with a height of 16-00.00.

Saturday, the team will take part in the Kent State Tune-Up. Lawson said not all athletes will compete in the event, and who does will depend on who needs some more work before next weekend’s Mid-American Conference Championships.

Contact sports correspondent Cody Erbacher at [email protected].