Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Central Michigan track and field athletes will get their first chance to ‘bust off the rust’ this weekend when they travel to Saginaw Valley State for the Cardinals’ annual indoor Holiday Open.
The women’s pentathlon and the men’s heptathlon are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Friday at SVSU’s Ryder Center.
Saturday’s activities begin with the culmination of the heptathlon at 10 a.m., followed by the high jump at noon. Running events begin at 1 p.m. with the 5,000-meter run.
The Holiday Open is an opportunity for team members to evaluate where are in their training regiments and to get reacquainted with live competition.
“I see the SVSU meet mostly as motivation for the athletes,” CMU Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Jenny Swieton said. “It can either be a wakeup call to where they need to ramp it up a little bit, or it can be like ‘wow, I’m making a lot of progress; let’s keep this ball rolling.’”
For a few Chippewas, the Holiday Open will be about building on success.
Sophomore thrower Logan Targgart will look to build off a 2017 indoor campaign during which he posted top-three finishes in the weight throw in five of seven regular-season meets and placed fourth at the Mid-American Conference Championships.
The Coldwater native was also impressive in the shot put, finishing in the top five at every meet except the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational, which annually features many of the nation’s best.
Weiler, a mechanical engineering major from Swartz Creek, claimed three indoor victories in the shot put last season – including one at the Holiday Open – and took home third place at the MAC Championships.
“Those two will be big,” Swieton said. “For as long as I can remember, we’ve always had really good throwers here at CMU and I think what makes them, and all of our throwers, so good is that they show up and work hard every day, which gets them results.”
Junior long sprinter Ben Hayes returns to the fold for Central Michigan after redshirting during the 2017 outdoor season. The Belleville native took home Second Team All-MAC honors in the 400-meter run at last year’s MAC Championships, finishing less than four-tenths of a second out of first place.
Hayes posted three 400-meter victories and six top-four finishes in seven indoor meets last year.
After redshirting for both the indoor and outdoor seasons last year, hurdler Shane Moffo will also return to competition for the Chippewas. Moffo garnered second team all-conference honors in the 60-meter hurdles at the 2016 MAC Championships and claimed three victories throughout the season. His leadership traits are what his first-year coach finds most valuable.
“He’s a stud athlete – obviously very good at his craft – but he’s also all about rallying the troops and getting everyone to come along with him toward being successful,” Swieton said. “More than anything else, I think that’s the kind of attitude we need on our team.”
Samantha Cuneo is back for her junior season on the women’s team. She was the only Chippewa to earn a First Team All-MAC distinction at last year’s MAC Indoor Championships, doing so in the 400.
The Rockford High School product, who boasts a 3.81 grade point average in integrative public relations, clocked an adjusted time of 54.30 seconds at the MAC meet to claim the gold medal.
“Sam’s a really good leader for the team,” said Swieton. “As much as she is important because she scores well on the track, she is also instrumental as a leader in the way she approaches practice and handles coaching. She’s been crucial in our transition to a new sprints coach (Andre English).”
Nadia Williams burst onto the scene last year in a variety of events and has high hopes for an even better sophomore campaign. Williams began her college indoor career by taking first place in both the 60-meter dash and the long jump at last year’s Holiday Open, then accomplished the same feat at her very next meet, the CMU Jack Skoog Open.
Fellow sophomore Ja’La Taylor will be another key piece among the CMU jumpers. Taylor took three straight victories in the triple jump to open her collegiate career last year and later posted second-place finishes at the Eastern Michigan Triangular (1/28) and the Grand Valley State Big Meet (2/10).
“The biggest thing that interests me about this meet is seeing how all the athletes react once it’s over,” Swieton said. “There will be some who do really well and they’ll hopefully be able to ride some of that positive momentum, but there will also be some who don’t fare as well as they wanted to.
“Then, we’ll have the holiday break and it will be interesting to see which athletes take that time to make themselves better coming into the new year.”