The track and field meet at the Akron Invitational was not just a form of preparation for the Mid-American Conference Championships, but an event filled with season-bests against some quality competition.
Both the men and women's track and field teams performed well among other MAC squads. Even though the meet was non-scoring, both teams found ways to win by jumping higher, throwing farther, and running faster.
The women's 4x400-meter relay concluded the meet with a bang and almost a new school record. Freshman Donna Jeanty, sophomores Asia Henry and Jamie McClary, and junior Jaqueline Burns clocked in at 3:46.18, taking two seconds off their previous time and just missing the school record set in 2005 by 0.13 seconds.
The men's pole vault also came close to setting a new school record. Freshman Adam Hume placed fifth in the event with a season-best of 15-7 (4.75m), just two inches away from the school record set in 2004.
The success of the meet was not only aided by the talent of the Bulls' track stars, but by the facility at the University of Akron and the competition present at the invitational.
"Akron has a great facility," said head coach Vicki Mitchell. "We had the opportunity to run on a 300-meter track, which is a faster track that we usually don't get to run on."
The high ceilings of the Zips' Louis and Freda Stile Athletics Field House allowed discus throwers to compete. They typically only get that opportunity in the outdoor season. Senior Matt Gac and junior Becky O'Brien, both outdoor record holders in the discus event, were able to get some throws in alongside the best of the best.
"The level of competition at this meet is superior," Mitchell said. "Kentucky, Oklahoma, Akron, Kent, and UB – some of the best throw schools in the country – came to compete in this event. The advantage for us is that our athletes get that chance to test out where they are and work out some rust, so to speak."
O'Brien certainly made the best out of this rare opportunity, throwing five feet farther than her outdoor record in the discus event with a throw of 171-7 (52.29m). For the men, Gac placed fourth in disc with a throw of 171-8 (52.33m).
In the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter runs, the Bulls pulled off a couple of season-bests. In the women's 3,000-meter run, sophomore Sam Beim not only placed first but took 13 seconds off of her previous best with a time of 10:15.42. She accomplished such a feat by running a negative split race, completing the first 1,500 meters in 5:14 and the second 1,500 meters of the race in 5:01.
Senior Ryan Bloom and junior Dylan Conway pushed each other to finish the men's 5,000-meter race in strong fashion, allowing Bloom to take more than 40 seconds off of his previous best indoor time, clocking in at 14.44.31.
"The 3k performances along with the 5k's [Friday] night were right on par with what we had hoped for, two weeks away from the MAC Championships," Mitchell said.
The men and women's teams will be competing at the Cornell Kane Invitational on Saturday at 11 a.m.