This article is part of a series being published in the week leading up to the Mid-American Conference Championships May 10-12 in Mount Pleasant. Check back frequently for continued coverage.
MOUNT PLEASANT – Led by veterans on the women's side and youth on the men's, Central Michigan's strong distance teams will have a lot to say about the Chippewas' Mid-American Conference Championship chances this weekend.
The most veteran of the event groups on the women's team, the distance runners are exceptionally strong with three outdoor track school records and two individual MAC Championships on their resumes.
Leading the way for the Chippewas will be seniors Raeanne Lohner, the 2010 MAC Champion in both the 5,000m and 10,000m runs, and Outstanding Performer of the meet; and Holly Anderson, the newly-crowned 10,000m run school record holder.
Lohner currently ranks as the top 5,000m runner in the conference after her 16:41.51 performance at the Stanford Invitational at the beginning of the season. Anderson is just behind her in second with her 16:43.71 at the Penn Relays just three weeks ago.
Also stepping up for the Chippewas is sophomore Krista Parks, who ran a 16:56.92 at the Penn Relays. Her time is ranked fifth among MAC student-athletes heading into the MAC Championships.
Anderson, who broke the school record in the 10,000m run, previously held by Lohner, with a time of 34:45.70, is ranked fourth behind a trio of Toledo Rockets.
Senior Maddie Ribant, the school record holder in the 3,000m steeplechase, is coming on strong after a slow start to her 2012 outdoor campaign. She is currently ranked ninth in the event, just outside of scoring range, after her 10:59.28 at the Penn Relays.
Lohner, who is currently ranked sixth in the MAC in the 1,500m run with a time of 4:30.33 at the Polytan Invitational, will be joined by senior Veronica Garcia in the 1,500m run.
Seniors Veronica Garcia, Christina Farrow and Kelsey Beatty will be competing in the 800m run for the Chippewas. Farrow has been redshirted for the entire season up to this point, but will be suiting up in the Maroon and Gold at least one more time to end her CMU career.
Unlike the very veteran women's team, the men's distance team is abundant in youth. But just like the women, the men will will be a force to be reckoned with this weekend.
Redshirt freshman Kyle Stacks will lead the way for the Chippewas in the first MAC Outdoor Championships of his career. Heading into this weekend he is ranked first in the conference in the 10,000m run after a strong 30:06.47 at the Penn Relays, and is fifth in the 5,000m run with a 14:22.56 at the Polytan Invitational.
Juniors Jason Drudge and Matt Lutzke provide the upperclassman leadership and will be expected to compete for points in the 5,000m and 10,000m runs. Lutzke is currently ranked eighth in the 10,000m run with a time of 31:23.55 at the Penn Relays.
A pair of redshirt freshmen will lead the Chippewas in the steeplechase. Ethan Lievense is ranked third after a 9:10.35 at the Penn Relays, and Ben Wynsma is ranked sixth with a 9:13.23 at the Stanford Invitational. Lievense will also compete in the 5,000m run.
Junior Nathan Sanchez and sophomore Nathan Huff will both compete in the 800m and 1,500m runs, and freshman Lucas Bade will enter the 800m run as the top Chippewa after a career-best 1:52.95 at the Len Paddock Invitational last weekend.
Memorable Moments in MAC Championships History
In 2010, Raeanne Lohner became the first woman in CMU history to win both the 5,000m and 10,000m runs at the same MAC Championships. She won the 5,000m run in a career-best time of 16:25.46 and the 10,000m in a career-best 35:23.59. She earned Most Outstanding Track Performer honors for her performance.
Abraham Mach won the 800m run in three consecutive seasons from 2006 to 2008. His fastest time came in 2007 when he ran a 1:50.3. His times in 2006 and 2008 were 1:53.2 and 1:54.2, respectively.
In 2007 Jeff Powers also completed the 5,000m/10,000m runs sweep on his way to Most Outstanding Performer honors. He won the 5,000m run in 14:43.00 and the 10,000m run in 30:46.90. He would go on to become an All-American in the 10,000m run later that season. He also won the 10,000m run in 2005 in helping his team win the MAC Championship.
Chippewas won the men's 800m run for three consecutive years from 1999 to 2001. Jeff DeLong claimed the title in 1999 with an impressive 1:49.4, and in 2001 with a time of 1:51.9, while teammate Tom Kessel won in 2000 in 1:51.42.
Ryan Watson was named the Most Outstanding Performer in 2000 after becoming the fist Chippewa to complet the 5,000m/10,000m runs sweep. He won the 5,000m in 14:28.4 and the 10,000m run in 30:45.8.
In 1982, Sue Bosch won both the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run, marking the first time any CMU student-athlete had done so. In 1990, Debbie Nowak claimed both the 3,000m steeplechase and the 5,000m run titles, a feat that has not been replicated since.