Rivarly runs big as men’s team wins against Akron; women lose by one

Joshua Echt

Rivalries in sports, such as Alabama-Auburn and Ohio State-Michigan, are often hard-fought duels between two evenly matched teams over a period of time.

Kent State and Akron’s track rivalry took center stage Friday night at the Akron Field House as Kent State’s men’s team won convincingly, 87-63, while Akron’s women’s team edged Kent State, 76-75.

“Last year, it was the opposite,” coach Wendel McRaven said. “Kent State’s men won by a narrow margin, while Kent State’s women won convincingly.”

McRaven said the team had extra motivation for the rivalry against Akron.

“We put more energy into this dual meet because the University of Akron is our cross-town rivals,” he said.

In the previous contest last year, Kent State’s men held off Akron, 70-69, while the women’s team dominated Akron, 85.5-52.5.

Last year’s indoor All-American, Mike Inge, won the 400 meters, while Jaroslaw Zakrzewski won the weight throw and Brent Shelby won the shot put.

Colleen Ramharak’s double victory in the triple and long jumps helped the women stay competitive, while Jeanna Fascione and Jennifer Fascione placed first and second in the mile, respectively.

Donielle Swany and Jackie Rodgers contributed with respective victories in the weight throw and pole vault.

Akron held a three-point advantage, 73-70, in the women’s competition going into the final event, the 4×400-meter relay. Kent State’s team, consisting of Stephanie Hunt, Gabriela Plocka, Lauren Richard and Erin Corrigan, won with a time of 3:47.5, receiving 5 points. However, Akron still won the meet because the second-place team still received 3 points, effectively putting Akron ahead, 76-75.

McRaven said it was a point of pride for the team to do well on the 4×400-meter relay, even though the women’s team would still fall to Akron.

“I’m proud of our women,” McRaven said. “By the time the 4×400-meter rolls around, everyone on the team is tired.

“In the 4×400-meter relay, the fastest people are not necessarily on that relay team, but the gutsiest people are.”

The men won six of eight events, including the 4×400-meter relay. The men won on the strength of Otis Jordan and Marc Johnson, who won the 200-meter dash and 60-meter hurdles, respectively. Jordan also took second in the 60-meter hurdles.

McRaven said dual meets at the college level are not as frequent as quad meets or invitational meets due to logistics and time constraints.

“The main benefit of a dual meet is to prepare you for later meets, like the conference meet,” he said.

The teams next compete in the Doug Raymond Invitational at the Kent State University Field House Saturday.

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