Track and field hosts MAC Championships
Bulls hopeful to win shot put for ninth straight year
The UB track and field team hosts the Mid-American Conference Championships this weekend, beginning Thursday at 10 a.m. and continuing through Saturday. The event will take place at UB Stadium as Buffalo hosts for the first time since 2010.
For most events, the Bulls are ranked at or near the bottom. These rankings are determined by the top performances from this past season. Senior hurdler Mitchell Moore is the lone Bull to qualify first in a non-throwing event. Moore is ranked first in the men’s 400 meter hurdles with a time of 52.37. Throwing events such as shot put, discus, hammer and javelin have Bulls favored or near the top on both the men’s and women’s teams. Assistant coach for throws Jim Garnham Sr. fully expects the Bulls to put on a dominating performance, especially in men’s shot put where they have won each of the past eight years.
“For the men’s shot put, nobody has ever done that,” Garnham Sr. said. “Akron is dominating the pole vault, but this is one of the things that we expect to win. Not bragging, but we expect to do it. This is my forte.”
Garnham Sr. is in his 17th year coaching at the university and helped in bringing the program to new heights. Under his tenure, every school throwing record has been broken multiple times. He said one of his best moments as a coach came three years ago at the outdoor MAC Championships where his team swept the men’s shot put.
“Jonathan Jones won it. He set the meet and facilities record,” Garnham Sr. said. “He had been on the Olympic team and broke his record. Devon [Patterson] was sixth place, and I just kind of blew in his ear and told him a couple of words as he jumped up to second place, breaking his personal best by over a meter. I looked at Ryan [Cribbin] and asked what he’s going to do, and he went from fifth to third. Everyone was going nuts.”
That group featured two current members of the Bulls roster. Junior Devon Patterson and senior Ryan Cribbin. Patterson and Cribbin have split the men’s shot put title the past two seasons. Cribbin finished first in 2016, and Patterson finished first in 2017. Patterson heads into this year’s MAC Championship as the the favorite with an 18.39 meter performance this season and Cribbin is second with 17.68 meters.
“I am tremendously confident in my performance,” Patterson said. “It’s been a little rocky, but consistent when compared to other years. I am on track for a bigger and better performance than in past years and this year. I’m excited, I don’t want to bolster or toot my own horn, but I’m ready to defend my title.”
The women’s throwers are highlighted by senior Miranda Daucher. She is second in the discus throw and sixth in the hammer throw. Daucher placed second in the discus at last year’s MAC Championships.
“I don’t think I’m at my peak yet, and I have a lot more left in the tank which is exciting,” Daucher said. “These past few weeks we’ve been working on some of the nitty gritty stuff with my technique, so I think I’m there. I’m excited for Saturday, excited for regionals in a few weeks.”
For most track and field meets, home field advantage would not mean much. For the Bulls’ throwers, it’s different. The Bulls throw uphill on the field behind UB Stadium. Garnham calls it a psychological advantage for the team because it makes opposing throwers nervous.
Outside of throwing events, junior Selina Von Jackowski will compete in a team-high four different events. Von Jackowski qualified for the women’s 100 meter hurdles, 4x100 meter relay, 4x400 meter relay and the long jump. Patterson is most excited to see the men’s 400 meter hurdles and the 3000 meter steeplechase for both the men’s and women’s side.
“The way Garnham Sr. goes about coaching and how much he cares towards my progress, and the hours he puts in at such an elder age means the world to me,” Patterson said. “He’s in my corner and that I forever have him as a coach, a friend, a mentor and I hope to make him proud this weekend.”
Nathaniel Mendelson is the assistant sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org