Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Back in November, CMU Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Jenny Swieton experienced her first Mid-American Conference Championships meet during the cross country season.
As any coach working with new athletes at a new program, she didn’t entirely know what to expect, but she was very interested in seeing how her team would react to the meet’s magnitude.
Now, as Swieton prepares for her second championship as the leader of the Chippewas – this weekend’s MAC Indoor Track and Field Championships at Bowling Green – that mindset has changed slightly.
“It will still be interesting to see the stress of a championship on those I haven’t seen yet,” she said. “But in addition to that, we’re trying to be better every time, we’re trying to be better than we were (at last year’s MAC Indoor Championships) – we’re trying to take a step forward as a program.
“It’s time we show everyone else (in the conference) the progress we’re making.”
• One event group that has taken a step forward recently and seems to be peaking at the ideal time is the CMU sprinters.
Surging junior Shane Moffo, who has risen to the No. 2 spot on the MAC Performance List for the men’s 60-meter hurdles, has the best qualifying mark (8.00 seconds) of any competitor in the first heat. Eastern Michigan’s Ivan Suazo, who Moffo beat head-to-head at the Grand Valley State Friday Big Meet, joins him in Heat 1.
• Arguably the most buzz-worthy event on the track for CMU is the 200.
On the women’s side, Nadia Williams broke the CMU 200 record last week with a time of 24.14 seconds, which stands as the second-best this season in the MAC. Eastern Michigan senior and defending MAC indoor champion Jasmine Jones is the only woman in the conference to clock a time faster than Williams this season (24.08).
Beauvais’ seed time of 24.45, which was nearly a half-second personal best last weekend at Michigan, is sixth on the performance list.
For the men’s team, freshman Jack Dodge has made an instant impact, owning the fastest team marks for both the 200 (21.58 seconds) and 400 (48.31). He owns the fifth seed in the 200.
Senior Lorenzo Wells, who clocked a personal best in the 60 meters and finished third behind Dodge in the 200 last week at Michigan, is also entered in the 200.
“It’s just the next step in the process for (the sprinters),” Swieton said. “If they improve again this week like they have for the last few, we’re going to beat some who maybe don’t expect to be beaten. We’re hoping our momentum can carry us through to grab a few points with those events.”
CMU junior Samantha Cuneo is an intriguing entry in the women’s 400. Cuneo is the defending indoor conference champion in the event, but has battled injury in 2018 and has only one competitive attempt in the 400 this season. However, given her past prowess, her seed time of 55.60 seconds could be deceiving.
Gabriella Beauvais, owner of the team’s fastest 400 time and the fifth-best mark in the MAC (55.40), will join Cuneo in the 400. Beauvais and Cuneo will need to record one of the top eight times out of 20 runners to advance from Friday’s preliminaries to Saturday’s finals.
The men’s 5,000 meters features a trio of young CMU runners – Logan Kleam, Conor Naughton and Bransen Stimpfel – who were all key pieces of CMU’s cross country team this fall.
Kleam, Naughton and Luke Anderson will toe the line for the Chippewas in the men’s 3,000, while Hannah Davis is the lone CMU entrant on the women’s side of the 3,000.
CMU’s women’s 4x400-meter relay team (Gabriella Beauvais, Simonae Dismuke, Kyla Walton and Sam Cuneo) is the top seed at 3:40.32, a program record.
PLAYING THE FIELD
In the women’s long jump, CMU sophomore Nadia Williams holds the No. 3 seed. She made the mark – a program-record-tying 19 feet, 11 3/4 inches -- at the opening meet of the indoor season, CMU’s Jack Skoog Open.
Senior Sam Wagner and sophomore Isaac Sadzewicz are both in great position to be point scorers for CMU in the pole vault. Both notched career bests two weeks ago at the GVSU Big Meet (16-8 1/2), are seeded third and fourth, respectively, and have caught Swieton’s eye.
“I think the pole vault is a really exciting event for us right now with all the potential,” she said. “Isaac and Sam getting three and four going in is big, and then on the women’s side, Kasey (Staley) and Amber (Wagner) could score for us too. It will definitely be another event where we can do something that other people might not be expecting.”
Third-seeded Logan Targgart, a redshirt sophomore, placed fourth last season in the MAC indoors. His improvement has been incremental this season, which is not an unexpected turn.
“That’s the thing with where Logan is right now – you’re not going to see PRs every week,” said Swieton. “That kind of stuff happens for athletes in the developmental phase, but plateaus happen once you’re past that. I still think his breakthrough is coming – he definitely works hard enough for it to happen – and it could be this weekend.”
CMU’s Erin Howard has turned in some impressive marks in the women’s shot put as a redshirt freshman, and is seeded fourth. She will once again have to conquer MAC headliners Aliyah Gustafson and Elizabeth Iversen of Bowling Green, who are nationally ranked sixth and 18th, respectively.
Ja’La Taylor’s seed mark of 39 feet, 7 1/4 inches puts her sixth in the women’s triple jump. Junior Kyra Harrison and Nadia Williams will join her as CMU representatives in the field.
Kevin Weiler will be looked upon to score well in the men’s shot put as the No. 1 overall seed. The Swartz Creek junior bounced back with a personal best in the last meet after sitting out the previous two with a pectoral injury.
“If we go in and do everything we can do, we’re going to outperform some people that maybe – on paper – we shouldn’t. And we’re just looking for as many instances of that as possible, regardless of the event.”