Track and field teams experience highs and lows

Steven Voicik

Sophomore distance runner Sarah McCort prepares to cross the finish line in the women’s one-mile run at the track meet Friday at the Kent State Field House. McCort finished the race in first place, and Kent State defeated Youngstown State 82-68. LESLIE C

Credit: Jason Hall

Emotions ran high inside the Kent State Field House on Friday night, as the track and field program hosted Youngstown State and Ohio State in a dual meet. While the Kent State women competed against Youngstown State and defeated them 82-68, the men were edged out by Ohio State, 77-74, in a highly competitive back-and-forth meet.

For the men, the night came down to the final event — the 4×400 relay.

As the gun sounded in that final race, Ohio State senior Gerald Griffin and Kent State junior Nick Ivancic were virtually neck and neck until the second leg of the race when Ohio State gained a slight advantage. But Kent State freshman Curtis Eaton stepped up mightily for his team and closed the gap in the third leg.

“I am so pleased with Curtis. He ran a great third leg and really got us back in to the race,” said Kent State head coach Bill Lawson. Eaton paved the way for his teammate, senior captain Mike Inge, to take over the lead and claim the race for the Flashes.

Fans, teammates and coaches alike erupted in celebration as Inge crossed the finish line. And although the Flashes came up just short in the final points standings for the night’s event, Lawson was upbeat after the event.

“I am so proud of our kids. They gave a great effort and displayed tremendous sportsmanship as they fought hard until the very end,” Lawson said.

It was a fitting end to an emotional night, which included a ceremony honoring Isaac Perkins, a former track and field athlete and long jump competitor who passed away with a brain tumor in November 2005.

In addition to winning the last race of the evening, the Flashes also won the first event, the long jump, which Perkins dominated during his time at Kent State. Kent State senior Phil Rickaby won the long jump for the Flashes with a jump of 7.34 meters.

Kent State claimed seven of the 14 scored events.

At 7 p.m., the bustling Field House paused to memorialize Perkins with a short ceremony. Perkins’s family was presented with a bronze plaque. A plaque will also be hung near the long-jump pit.

“Isaac gave 100 percent effort and was all heart and soul in everything he did — from the runway to the classroom to the workplace. He will be in our memory for a long time,” Lawson said.

The Kent State women’s track and field program also took a step in the right direction by winning eight of 14 events against Youngstown State.

Junior LeVania Henderson, the 2005-06 Mid-American Conference indoor shot-put champion, was victorious in both the shot-put and weight throw, as she recorded distances of 15.17 meters in the shotput and 18.31 meters in the weight throw.

Senior Stephanie Hunt also had an exceptional meet against the Penguins. Hunt ran the final leg and secured victory in the 4×400 meter relay. She also won the triple jump with a leap of 10.92 meters. Hunt was also victorious in the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.21.

“Our ladies did a great job tonight competing against a good Horizon League team in Youngstown State, and we managed to pull away at the end,” Lawson said.

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