AKRON, Ohio – Senior thrower Kevin Mays smashed the CMU school record and automatically qualified for the NCAA National Championships in the weight throw with a career-best heave of 71-11 to highlight a successful weekend for the men's indoor track team at the Akron Invitational on Saturday.
The communications major from Flint, Mich., surpassed the previous school record by more than three feet. Dave Stallworth had held the school record mark of 68-09.75 since 2006. He also replaces a previous career-best mark of 67-06.75 set at last week's Findlay Open.
"It was just an amazing feeling," Mays said. "After struggling for the past few weeks to get the mark I've wanted, even though I've been performing rather well, I knew I had a lot more in me. To finally have that large breakthrough felt very good."
Not only did Mays add his name to the CMU indoor track record books, he became the first Chippewa this season to add his name to the list of NCAA Division I Championships automatic qualifiers. His throw surpassed the NCAA automatic qualifying mark of 21.50 meters, or approximately 70-06.5.
"To get this mark here so I don't have to compete to try to qualify the week after the MAC Championships was something we wanted to take care of," Mays said. "It takes away a lot of stress and it gives me a chance to go out and focus on my practice and on my technique."
As of publication, his mark would rank fourth among all NCAA Division I student-athletes, according to the Track and Field Results Reporting System. Official rankings will be available after all of the weekend's results have been reported.
Mays finished first among collegiate competitors in the event, and second only to Nike-sponsored professional A.G. Kruger (78-11). Mays finished more than four feet ahead of third-place finisher Richard Quick of Ashland (67-06.75).
"Kevin has been nipping at the 70-foot mark for a while now, and considering he eclipsed that with a 71-11 against an Olympian (Kruger) speaks volumes about his focus and his coaching," Director of Track and Field and Cross Country Willie Randolph said. "We are excited for him and the leadership he is showing both the men's and women's teams."
In the context of the Mid-American Conference, Mays' mark is more than six feet farther than the next-best throw, owned by Eric Hubbard of Akron. Hubbard finished fifth Saturday with a throw of 65-01.25. If Mays is able to duplicate Saturday's performance at the MAC Championships in two weeks, would break the MAC Championships record of 21.46 meters (approximately 70-05).
His record was the fifth school record broken this season - the fourth by the men - and this marks the third consecutive weekend during which a school record was broken.
Mays' performance was just one of the many strong efforts by the Chippewas on Saturday, some of which resulted in season- and career-best marks.
"The student-athletes are now physically ready; we just have to sharpen the mental performances to truly get them ready to compete at the MAC Championships," Randolph said. "Believing will make the difference in receiving any award."
Sophomore Ross Parsons finished runner-up in the gold division 200m dash in a season-best time of 21.91, which is the fastest time by a CMU student-athlete this season. Parsons also finished 11th in the gold division 60m dash with a time of 7.00.
The gold division was reserved for the athletes with the highest-seeded times. The remainder of the athletes competed in the blue division.
Freshman Lucas Bade placed ninth in the gold division 800m run in a time of 1:55.74.
A trio of CMU gold division 400m dash competitors set season-best times. Seniors David Ashcraft and Christopher Thomas both ran times of 49.29 to finish ninth and 10th, respectively. Ashcraft placed ahead of Thomas on the virtue of his runner-up status in his heat, while Thomas placed fourth in his. Clay Holman finished 13th in 49.64.
Senior multi-event athlete Josh Kettlewell finished 12th in the gold division pole vault with a mark of 16-06. Sophomore Tim Reynolds finished third in the blue division with a vault of 15-07, tying his career best.
The 4x400m relay team (Holman, Ashcraft, Bade, Thomas) took the third spot in a time of 3:17.68.
Senior thrower Mychael King won the blue division shot put with a season-best mark of 52-03.75.
The Chippewas return home for the Jack Skoog Meet on Friday, Feb. 17 at 4 p.m. before they travel back to Akron the following weekend for the MAC Championships.