KSU narrowly misses first MAC Title

Steve Voicik

Senior Chad Clemons talks with head coach Bill Lawson before performing in the pole-vault at Saturday’s meet. LAURA TORCHIA | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Jason Hall

For the men’s track and field team, the Mid-American Conference Championships came down to the final event:the 4×400-meter relay.

Kent State and Eastern Michigan were tied at 159 points entering the final event, but Kent State came up 11 one-hundredths of a second short of its first indoor track and field Conference Championship.

Kent State freshman Curtis Eaton ran the first leg of the mile relay, jumping out to an early lead. During the second leg, Eastern Michigan’s Fred Blackwell took over first place from the Flashes’ Nick Ivancic with a controversial move.

Senior Chris Caine regained the lead for the Flashes during the third leg but was overtaken by Eastern Michigan’s Nate Blackwell on the backstretch.

Entering the final leg of the relay, the anticipation and excitement was palpable throughout the Akron Field House.

Kent State’s Mike Inge and Eastern Michigan’s Ray Shavers were neck and neck in the fourth leg, with Shavers claiming first place and securing a Championship for the Eagles.

At the race’s conclusion, the Kent State coaching staff petitioned the results to officials, alleging that Blackwell intentionally cut Ivancic off during the second leg of the race.

Immediately following the meet, race officials reviewed video of the controversial move. Had they determined that Blackwell illegally cut into Ivancic’s lane, the Eagles would have been disqualified, but officials ruled in favor of the Eagles, and the results stood.

Despite the disappointing finish, Kent State coach Bill Lawson praised the effort of his mile relay team.

“My hat is off to those four young men, who gave their best in the pursuit of a championship,” Lawson said in a press release.

The men’s team, which was in first after Friday’s events, increased its lead Saturday when senior Chris Caine won the men’s heptathlon by taking the final event: the 1,000 meter-relay.

“It felt great to help our team and add 10 points to our team score as our team was vying for a MAC Championship,” Caine said.

Ivancic finished third in the heptathlon, while senior Chad Clemons finished fifth.

Senior sprinter Marc Johnson broke an Akron Field House record in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.67 seconds and claimed first place in the event, with a convincing win.

Kent State junior Jaroslaw Zakrzewski won the men’s 35-pound weight throw and has a chance to compete in the national championships.

The women’s team finished ninth overall.

Freshman Brooke Sposito finished second in the women’s pentathlon, an event that includes the 60-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put and the long jump.

Contact track and field reporter Steve Voicik at [email protected].