Track team sends five members to national meet

Josh Echt

When it comes to big meets, junior Mike Inge has been there and done that.

Nationally ranked in the 800-meter dash, Inge is one of five Flashes who qualified for the NCAA national track meet in Fayetteville, Ark., today and tomorrow.

The other four, junior Pawel Dutkiewicz and seniors Adrian Ghioroaie, Colleen Ramharak and Breann Smith, also represent Kent State.

Inge has big meet experience.

At the 2004 NCAA meet, he placed seventh in the 800-meter, earning All-American honors. Later that year, he placed ninth in the 800-meter semifinals of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team trials.

“Better competition at the big meets helps me,” Inge said. “I get a feel for my opponents.”

His opponents, namely Nate Brannen of Michigan and Christian Smith of Kansas State, are familiar to Inge. He’s ran against them many times at national meets.

“Even though I know them and want to beat them, there is common respect between us,” he said.

Several of the athletes have been to the NCAA meet before. Ghioroaie placed third in the triple jump in 2002 with a jump of 53-5 feet, earning All-American honors. Ghioroaie entered today’s meet ranked eighth nationally with a jump of 52-2, second best in Kent State history.

Ramharak competed at last year’s NCAA Outdoor Championships, placing 20th in the triple jump. Ramharak is ranked fourth nationally with a jump of 43-10.75. She is looking to be the first female horizontal jumper at Kent State to earn All-American honors.

Either the top eight places or top eight American finishers receive the title of All-American.

“I feel all of these athletes can earn All-American honors,” Kent State coach Wendel McRaven said. “If they can perform equal to what they’ve done in the past, they will be All-Americans.”

Dutkiewicz and Smith are newcomers to the NCAA meet. Dutkiewicz leaped to a school-record 25-1.75 at last week’s Last Chance Meet, finishing second. The mark provisionally qualified him to the NCAA meet. He broke his previous personal-best of 24-4.25, set the previous week at the Mid-American Conference meet.

Smith could become the third thrower in Kent State history to earn All-American honors in the shot put alongside Leslie Vidmar and Stevanie Wadsworth.

Smith unleashed a throw of 52-9.50 at the Last Chance Meet, ranking her 11th nationally and second on Kent State’s indoor list.

McRaven said he was pleased with the qualifiers’ efforts.

“Pawel and Breann came through and stepped up at the right time,” he said.

Kent State had a chance to compete at a sixth event this weekend, but the women’s distance medley relay just missed the cutoff for an at-large bid.

Contact track and field reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].