Track and field moves outdoors

Josh Johnston

The Kent State women’s track and field team finished eighth at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships a month ago. Being picked in a preseason poll to also finish eighth outdoors doesn’t sit well with the team.

“I have ourselves picked way higher than that,” coach Bill Lawson said. “I think a lot of people are not doing their homework.”

The women’s team will look to reeducate its skeptics today and tomorrow at the Duke Invitational in Durham, N.C. The meet kicks off the Flashes’ outdoor season.

Competing and practicing inside the Field House since December has the team eager to move outdoors.

“I’m not a big fan of the indoor season,” junior Erica Mosby said. “I perform way better outdoors. Everybody’s happy when the sun comes out.”

The outdoor season puts the team on a larger track, which some runners say lessens injury.

“It’s a lot easier to go out and have more space,” junior Ashley Rhodaback said. “The curves aren’t as tight so it’s easier on your body.”

The Flashes will also benefit from indoor athletes returning to the team.

Lawson said junior Nia Henderson and sophomore Bekah Stoltz will make an impact outdoors.

Two weeks ago, Henderson won the shot put at the Early Bird Relays at the University of Cincinnati. Stoltz ranked first in the MAC for javelin last year.

Senior Andrea Bryson, a key sprinter for the Flashes indoors, seemed confident the women would perform better outdoors.

“We have a lot of people coming back who weren’t there for indoors or last year,” she said. “We’re going to do better. Period.”

The men will also look to improve from their indoor season. Finishing in third at the MAC Indoor Championships, the Flashes are picked to finish third outdoors as well.

Lawson said the MAC is a toss up between Kent State, Akron and Eastern Michigan.

“With the men it could go 1-2-3 with us being on top, 1-2-3 with Eastern being on top, or 1-2-3 with Akron being on top,” he said. “It’s very close between those first three teams.”

Leading the men will be senior Shamel Smith, who won the MAC Indoor high jump crown. Smith said he’s excited for the outdoor season.

“I prefer outdoor because it’s more competition, better atmosphere as far as fans and it just has your adrenaline pumping a little more,” he said.

The move outdoors brings different events to the track. The hammer throw, javelin and 400-meter hurdles are just some of the new events. Lawson said these events will help the team score better at meets.

“I think we have some events that we will do better in than we did in indoor,” he said. “We’re more geared toward an outdoor team.”

Sophomore Curtis Eaton Jr. summed up the general feeling on the track team with one sentence: “It’s all about outdoor really.”

Contact sports correspondent Josh Johnston at [email protected].