Last chance to qualify nationally for track and field athletes

Josh Johnston

Six athletes from the Kent State indoor track and field team will compete in the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend, Ind., this weekend.

The meet is a last chance qualifying meet before the NCAA Indoor Championships next week in Fayetteville, Ark.

“The primary goal is for everybody we’re taking to minimally hit a provisional national qualifying mark,” coach Bill Lawson said. “Our hopes are some of the athletes have a real opportunity to get in that top 16 in the nation and get the invite to the NCAA Championships.”

From the men’s team, senior Shamel Smith and sophomore Evan Whiting will lead three others in an effort to hit qualifying marks or times.

Smith recorded a provisional qualifying mark in the high jump on Feb. 8 at the Akron Invitational. He is ranked 32nd on the national list.

Along with taking first at the Mid-American Conference Championship last weekend, Whiting threw a provisional qualifying mark of 58 feet, 10 3/4 inches in the shot put. He is ranked 23rd in the nation.

Senior Erik Lindahl (pole vault), junior Tony Jordanek (mile run) and sophomore Curtis Eaton Jr. (400-meter dash) will attempt to provisionally qualify this weekend as well.

Sophomore Jessica Lhotsky will be the women’s team’s lone representative. The second place finisher in the 800-meter run at the MAC Championships, Lhotsky will have to run 3 seconds faster than her best time this season to qualify.

“Just a few of us are going to compete this weekend,” Lawson said. “If we have a little bit of luck, one or two (athletes) can move on to the national meet.”

While some of Kent State’s key athletes are competing, Lawson said the rest of the team will regroup for the upcoming outdoor season.

Weight throwing seniors John Harper and Jaroslaw Zakrzewski have both tossed provisional qualifying marks but will not be competing this weekend.

“We’re making the transition for those two toward the discus and the outdoor hammer,” Lawson said.

Although the outdoor season begins in two weeks, the teams are still practicing indoors because of the weather, Lawson said.

“That happens anytime you’re cornered into this part of the country,” he said. “That’s the beauty of having a very nice indoor facility where we can work on events like the javelin and discus indoors.”

Contact sports correspondent Josh Johnston at [email protected].