SEE ALSO: Women's Season Recap
MOUNT PLEASANT – The men's track and field team harnessed a potent combination of veteran leadership and performance with the blossoming of underclassmen youth to complete an exceptionally successful 2011-2012 season.
The Chippewas completed a successful season that resulted in third-place team finishes at both the Indoor and Outdoor Mid-American Conference Championships, two All-Americans, six conference champions and seven school record performances, among many other highlights.
"We had a lot of fifth year seniors and a lot of underclassmen who came in immediately and made contributions," director of track and field and cross country Willie Randolph said. "Mixing those two different groups of people together and making sure they still worked together and competed at a high level allowed us to vie for a conference championship in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, and cross country."
Throwers Have a Season for the Ages
Two veteran second-team All-America throwers, Kevin Mays and Ryan McCullough headlined the 2011-2012 campaigns for Central Michigan.
Mays earned All-America honors in the weight throw during the indoor season with a tenth-place finish at the NCAA Championships at Boise State in Nampa, Idaho in mid-March. En route to Idaho, Mays not only broke the school record with a mark of 71-11, he also set the all-time MAC record in the weight throw. His mark was the seventh best in Division 1 throughout the course of the year.
McCullough likewise dominated the outdoor season. He started the season strong with a school-record mark of 204-02 in the hammer throw at the LSU Relays, breaking his own record. McCullough knocked on the door of rebreaking the record all season until finally breaking through at the MAC Championships in front of the hometown crowd at Central Michigan. He broke or tied his previous record on all six of his attempts, including a tremendous throw of 210-07 that earned him a MAC Championship, Outstanding Field Performer honors and a mark that qualified him for the 2012 Olympic Trials. He elected not to compete at the Trials.
McCullough was one of eight Chippewas to qualify for the NCAA National Championships East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla., where he qualified for the National Championships Finals. He finished 13th overall with a mark of 206-02, earning him second-team All-America honors.
The men finished third at both the Indoor and Outdoor MAC Championships, with three different individual MAC Champions at each meet. The Chippewas finished with 109 points at the indoor championships, behind winner Akron at 163, and with 137 points at the outdoor championships, behind winner Akron's 161.
At the indoor meet held at Akron, senior multi-event student-athlete Josh Kettlewell claimed the heptathlon title, junior hurdler Renaldo Powell took the 60m hurdles crown, and sophomore Tecumseh Adams won the 3,000m run. The 4x400m relay team of seniors David Ashcraft and Christopher Thomas, and sophomores Clay Holman and Ross Parsons eclipsed the school record with a time of 3:14.19, good for second place.
In addition to the individual champions, two Chippewas and the 4x400m relay team finished with second-team All-MAC honors: McCullough in the weight throw and Adams in the 5,000m run.
five Chippewas finished third in their events: Parsons (200m dash and 4th in the 60m dash); sophomore Cory Noeker (60m hurdles); redshirt freshman Kyle Stacks (3,000m run); senior George Flanner (shot put); and sophomore Tim Reynolds (heptathlon).
The Chippewas put together an equally impressive showing at the MAC Outdoor Championships. McCullough in the hammer throw, junior thrower Alex Rose in the discus and senior hurdler Branden Post in the 400m hurdles all claimed individual MAC Championships in front of the home Mount Pleasant crowd.
Noeker continued his development with a runner-up finish in the 110m hurdles to take second-team All-MAC honors for the Chippewas. Seven other Chippewas finished third in their respective events: Stacks (5,000m and 10,000m runs); Ashcraft (400m dash); Mays (hammer throw); Rose (shot put); Kettlewell (decathlon); and redshirt freshman Ethan Lievense (3,000m steeplechase).
Chippewas Rewrite the Record Books
Throughout both the indoor and outdoor seasons, the Chippewas broke an impressive seven school records. Five records fell during the winter, and two more were set during the spring.
Kettlewell was the first to topple a record with a score of 5,673 in the heptathlon at the Penn State National Invitational. His mark surpassed the previous record by 300 points.
Later that day Adams set a new record in the 5,000m run with a time of 13:53.08 at the Indiana Relays – the first Chippewa to go sub-14:00 in the indoor 5,000m run. Adams would set another record a week later during the Ryan Shay Memorial 3,000m run at the Meyo Invitational with a time of 8:02.39.
Mays smashed the weight throw record with a mark of 71-11 at the Akron Invitational, setting not only the school record but the all-time MAC record. Mays' throw was the first over 70-00 in school history.
The 4x400m relay record fell just weeks later at the MAC Championships, as Ashcraft, Thomas, Parsons and Holman clocked a 3:14.19 in a runner-up effort.
The indoor season set the stage for McCullough to break his own hammer throw record not just once but twice.
Looking Forward to the Future
Though two senior All-Americans, three senior conference champions and numerous other senior student-athletes have donned the Maroon and Gold for the last time, the future is bright for CMU track and field. With new senior leaders ready to take the reins in Powell and Rose, among others; a slew of underclassmen like Noeker, Parsons, Stacks, Reynolds, Holman and Lievense, among many others, and an impressive incoming recruiting class, the Chippewas will continue to be competitive for years to come.