Indoor track and field warms up for next week

Josh Johnston

Team prepares for MAC championship

Freshman Michael Schober participates in the high jump at the Kent State Tune-Up Saturday in the field house. Brian Marks | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Anne Zakelj had already won the high jump at the Kent State Tune-Up with a 5-feet-5-inch performance. She wasn’t satisfied though. Zakelj continued to jump until she made her next bar.

“I’ve jumped 5-7 enough times in a meet and not made it,” the senior said. “I thought ‘what the heck, try and keep going.'”

Although the extra jumps didn’t count for anything, the thought could sum up her athletic career at Kent State. After finishing four seasons with the volleyball team, Zakelj traded her kneepads for track spikes.

“I always had it in the back of my mind that I would do it,” she said. “My freshman year another girl had done that — Michelle Corniffe — and I just like high jump.”

Before this year, Zakelj had not competed in track since high school, but she still jumped.

“They have a pit out at the outdoor track that they leave out there year round,” she said. “Sometimes if I was bored I’d go over barefoot and jump. It was fun to try.”

Her win Saturday marked her first collegiate victory. She only had five meets under her belt.

The win could help boost her confidence with the Mid-American Conference Championships meet next week.

“I think if she goes in there and she can make that 5-7, 5-8 bar in the MACs next weekend, she could be there scoring points,” coach Bill Lawson said.

Zakelj is ranked 12th in the MAC, but is only 2 inches under No. 2 Katelyn Kelly of Miami.

Elsewhere at the Field House Saturday, sophomore Jessica Lhotsky posted a convincing run in the 1,000-meter. Clocking in at 2 minutes, 52.07 seconds, she finished more than 15 seconds ahead of second place Kayleigh Bildstein of Malone.

“An unbelievable run, really by herself,” Lawson said. “She had no one to run against.”

Lhotsky’s run came close to breaking a school record, Lawson said.

“(She ran) just 1.2 seconds off the school record,” he said. “If she had a rabbit in that race, she would have easily broken the school record.”

Finishing just .02 seconds apart from each other, juniors Ashley Rhodaback and Erica Mosby nabbed first and second in the 300-meter dash.

Typically, the women run shorter or longer events at meets. Lawson said he wanted to mix it up for them this weekend.

“They’re off events. You can become stagnant running the same events every weekend,” he said. “So when they go back to their regular events at the conference meet they should feel fresh mentally and physically.”

Senior Andrea Bryson put in another consistent effort in the 60-meter dash and 200-meter dash.

She sprinted to second place in the 60 after barely qualifying for the finals. She also won the 200 in 25.27, just .01 off her season best.

“She’s had good doubles — the 60 and 200 — five weeks in a row,” Lawson said. “I think she’s ready to pop one in the MACs.”

On the men’s side, sophomore Evan Whiting launched the shot put 57 feet, 9.75 inches to claim a victory and a new personal best indoors.

Also marking an indoor personal record was senior pole vaulter Erik Lindahl with a 16 feet, 2.75 inch vault.

Lawson said the teams are right where they need to be for the MAC Championship meet.

“All in all, good solid performances,” he said. “We’re going to need a Herculean effort to beat Eastern Michigan in their house. We’re going to go in there and go after it.”

Contact sports correspondent Josh Johnston at [email protected].