MOUNT PLEASANT - With a strong showing on Friday's day two of the Mid-American Conference Track and Field Championships, Central Michigan's men's team qualified the most student-athletes into Saturday's finals and picked up points in a number of other events.
The Chippewas find themselves in second place with 58 points, behind leader Akron with 94 and ahead of third-place Kent State's 43. Despite the margin between the Chippewas and Zips, CMU has put itself in great position to make a run for a title after qualifying 12 student-athletes to Saturday's finals compared to Akron's five.
The Chippewas also picked up points with multiple student-athletes scoring in the shot put, decathlon and 3,000m steeplechase.
“We are really focusing on taking this one day at a time, one event at a time,” director of track and field and cross country Willie Randolph said. “Any time you have any momentum coming from any school record or any event championship that is providing positive energy, you can only hope everyone grabs on to it. Today they did. We want to continue that momentum going into tomorrow. We're very excited about tomorrow, but we have to finish what we started.”
Sophomore sprinter Ross Parsons has set himself up for a strong final day after qualifying as the top seed in the 100m dash with a time of 10.61 and fifth in the 200m dash with a career-best time of 21.40. He will also contribute in tomorrow's 4x100m and 4x400m relays.
Senior hurdler and 2010 MAC 400m hurdles champion Branden Post has set himself up well for a run at another title, qualifying as the top seed with a career-best time of 52.17. Sophomores Parker Scott (career-best 53.39, fifth) and Cory Noeker (54.21, seventh) also qualified for Saturday's finals.
Junior hurdler Renaldo Powell advanced as the second seed in his event, the 110m hurdles, with a time of 14.48. He will be joined by Noeker (14.62, fifth) and redshirt freshman Brandon Piligian (career-best 14.84, eighth).
The Chippewas' points on the day came in large part from a trio of third-place finishes in the shot put, the decathlon and the 3,000m steeplechase from junior Alex Rose, senior Josh Kettlewell and redshirt freshman Ethan Lievense, respectively.
Rose launched a mark of 55-08.50 to take third in the shot put, and senior Mychael King finished sixth with a career-best mark of 54-10.75.
In the decathlon Kettlewell, who started day two of the event in fifth place, finished strong to earn the bronze medal. He scored 6,881 in total, boosted by a winning performance in the pole vault component with a mark of 15-09. Sophomore Tim Reynolds, who entered Friday in sixth place, won the 1,500m run component to boost himself to a fifth-place finish with 6,701 points.
Lievense finished the obstacle and water-jump laden race in a time of 9:16.85 to earn third, while fellow redshirt freshman Ben Wynsma finished fifth in 9:29.22.
Senior David Ashcraft turned in an impressive 48.52 performance in the 400m dash prelims to qualify third in the event. Sophomore Clay Holman will join Ashcraft on Saturday after a 49.02 run for the seventh seed.
Following the disqualification of the top seed Willie Brown of Akron, the Chippewas managed to slip two runners into the 800m run finals. Freshman Lucas Bade ran a 1:52.98 to qualify seventh, and junior Nathan Sanchez took the eighth and final spot with a career-best 1:53.00.
The Chippewas will look to make their run at the MAC title beginning Saturday at 11 a.m. with field events. The first running event of the day will be the 4x100m relay at 1 p.m.