Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – As CMU freshman Jack Dodge came across the line to win his heat in the men’s 200-meter prelims on Friday at the MAC Indoor Track & Field Championships, two on-looking athletes from conference powerhouse Akron looked at each other in disbelief.
“From Central Michigan?” one quizzically asked the other.
It was the physical manifestation of what the Chippewa program set out to accomplish on Championship Weekend: Surprise some people.
A trio of young CMU distance men provided what was probably the biggest surprise from an outsider’s standpoint in the 5,000. Logan Kleam took third place (14:35.47), Conor Naughton was fourth (14:36.62), and Bransen Stimpfel placed sixth (15:03.46). Their finishes produced 21 points toward CMU’s total of 31. The Chippewas are third in the five-team men’s field.
“The biggest thing for me is that they’re freshman who finished right behind two fifth-year seniors from Eastern Michigan (Nicholas Raymond and Lahsene Bouchikhi),” said CMU associate head coach Matt Kaczor, who works closely with the distance runners. “I could not be more pumped about what happened today and how those guys performed, especially after the bad taste we had from” the MAC Cross Country Championships.
The CMU women scored seven points on Friday and are tied for ninth place with Toledo. Bowling Green leads with 32 points, two ahead of Eastern Michigan.
POLE VAULT PLACERS
CMU sophomore Isaac Sadzewicz and freshman A.J. Frens raised some eyebrows in the men’s pole vault as well, placing second and fifth, respectively, for a 10-point addition to the team total.
Based on seeding, Sadzewicz did not jump until the bar reached the 4.95-meter mark (16 feet, 2 3/4 inches) and subsequently cleared it on his first attempt.
Frens started at 4.80 (15-9) and got over the bar on his second try, then surpassed 4.95 on his third attempt to set a personal best and separate himself from the sixth-11th place finishers. No one other than the event winner, 2017 indoor pole vault national champion Matthew Ludwig of Akron, cleared 5.1 meters (16-8 3/4).
“So big for both of them,” CMU director of track and field Jenny Swieton said. “You could just tell with Isaac that he was going to do something big because of how ready and confident he looked, and he was in the right frame of mind going in.
“And A.J., being a freshman, to come in and handle his business so well in his first year – it’s really exciting.”
CMU’s Logan Targgart took second in the men’s weight throw with a career-best throw of 19.73 meters (64-8 3/4), more than two feet farther than the third-place finisher, Philip Jagers of Akron, who was seeded second in the event. Targgart’s runner-up bagged eight more points for the CMU men.
“What really impresses me about Logan is that he’s one of those people who will do whatever it takes to find success in anything, not just track and field,” Swieton said. “I love when you see people who are willing to put all that effort in to do great things.”
Nadia Williams scored six points for the CMU women by placing third in the long jump. Williams easily advanced out of her flight to the final section and held second place until the last round of jumps with a mark of 6.04 meters (19-9 3/4). Cayla Carey of Kent State then out-jumped Williams on her final attempt by a mere one-half inch to claim the runner-up position.
Freshman weight thrower Quiara Wheeler added another point for CMU with an eighth-place finish. The Flint native recorded a personal-record heave of 18.01 meters (59-1 1/4), which was nearly a foot better than her seed mark.
“For Quiara to come in and score as a freshman is huge because the MAC is a serious national force in the weight throw,” Swieton said. “I think it helps the confidence of the entire group, too, since we’re so young there.”
Prior to the meet, Swieton spoke of how she was looking for the sprinters to take the “next step” in their natural progression in Friday’s prelims.
It is now safe to say, collectively, that task was completed.
• Shane Moffo got it started by winning the first heat of the men’s 60-meter hurdles in 8.08 seconds. He finished second overall to EMU’s Devonte Findlay, whose time of 7.89 in the second heat was the best by a MAC hurdler this season. The gun for the final section of the event will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
• CMU’s Erick Huertas advanced out of the men’s 400-meter prelims with a mark of 49.13 seconds. The senior will run alongside Tyler Brown and Tyler Underwood of EMU, and Buffalo’s Mitchell Moore in the first of two finals sections on Saturday. Brown finished third in the prelims, but was the No. 1 overall seed coming into the day.
• Dodge’s aforementioned 21.65 in the men’s 200 was good for the second overall position in the finals. As expected, season-long MAC leader Riak Reese of Kent State was first in 21.50. Dodge came into the race with the league’s fifth-fastest time.
• Chippewa Lorenzo Wells continued his recent rise, crossing the line at 21.96 to claim the sixth qualifying position in the 200. The senior also claimed the seventh position in the 60-meter dash, finishing the prelim in a career-best 6.928. Wells’ results are especially noteworthy in light of the fact that he was ranked 10th in the 200 and 15th in the 60 on the MAC Performance List entering Friday’s action.
“Lorenzo is really coming on now that he’s fully recovered from his health issues (appendicitis) from earlier in the year,” Swieton said. “I think that’s part of the reason he was a little behind in his progression compared to other people, but now that he’s making very noticeable improvements, it makes me very excited not only for tomorrow, but for outdoor season as well.”
Berkley Edwards (sixth) and Jamar Hardy (eighth) will join Wells in the 60 final, posting prelim times of 6.923 and 6.98, respectively.
• CMU’s Gabriella Beauvais secured the best time (55.76) out of 20 runners in the women’s 400 prelim. The redshirt sophomore dominated the third heat, crossing the line an astonishing 1.6 seconds ahead of the next competitor.
• Teammate Simonae Dismuke came into the 400 ranked 13th on the MAC Performance List, but rose to clinch the sixth of eight qualifying spots with a time of 56.64. Beauvais and Dismuke will run in separate finals sections on Saturday.
• Beauvais qualified for the 200-meter finals as well, along with Nadia Williams.
Williams took the second overall position, clocking a time of 24.45 seconds, and crushing the rest of her heat by more than a one-half second. She will go head-to-head with the conference’s fastest 200 runner – Eastern’s Jasmine Jones – in a blockbuster section 1 matchup.
Beauvais finished second to Jones in the second heat with a time of 24.55 seconds. The Monona, Wis. product owns the fastest prelim time in the second finals section, but will face some conference stalwarts in Eastern Michigan’s Micah Johnston and Kent State’s Nicole Yeargin, who won the fourth and fifth heats, respectively, on Friday.
Swieton: “Simply put, we did a lot of what we set out to do today, with the main goal being to get better. But ‘getting better’ is more than just (personal bests) and placing high. The support they showed for one another, being good teammates, being mentally engaged in everything that was going on -- it’s all part of it. I’m just really pleased with where we’re at and excited for where we’re headed.”