Track and field took home eight medals at the Mid-American Conference (MAC) indoor track and field championships, which took place Feb. 24-25 at Bowling Green University’s Perry Field House.
Among the most notable performers were senior Jonathan Surdej, who won his fifth gold in the men’s shot put, and fifth-year Christina Wende, who won gold in the women’s long jump and won silver in the women’s triple jump.
It was the third-consecutive MAC indoor shot put title for Surdej.
“I go in to every MAC expecting my best,” Surdej said. “I was ranked second [coming in], but I like to think I wasn’t an underdog.”
Wende won her first MAC gold medal in the women’s long jump with a career-best 6.04 meter jump. Her winning distance was 3 centimeters longer than junior Hayley Manners of Central Michigan. She credited her mental preparation and competitive nature for her success.
“At the beginning of the year [our coach] started giving us chapters from this book called ‘Mind Gym,’” Wende said. “I trained very hard, but those other people in the field are obviously very good. What’s that next step you can take? Mentally, for me, it’s reading chapters to become calm in competition.”
Other female medalists for UB included graduate student Teasha McKoy, who won silver in the weight throw with 18.75 meters, and junior Scilla Benussi, who placed third overall in the pentathlon with top-five finishes in four of the five competitions within that event.
Senior Zaria Fuller finished just outside of the top three, with a T-4 finish in the women’s high jump (1.7 meters).
Senior Kaylah Britt and junior Emily Tait finished seventh and eight respectively, out of 21 competitors, in the triple jump, joining Wende in the top 10 of that event.
On the men’s side, UB took home medals in five more events.
Surdej’s 17.21 meter shot put throw was over a half-meter longer than the throw of the silver medalist, Akron freshman Josiah Cox.
The UB shot put program has dominated in recent years. Later this season, Surdej looks to continue a streak of 13-straight outdoor shot put MAC championships.
The distance medley relay was UB’s only group-event medal. Sophomore Cory Demo (1200 meters), sophomore Fernando Sanchez (400 meters), freshman Noah Brightman (800 meters) and junior Evan Hilbert (1600 meters) took home the silver, falling to Kent State by a quarter of a second.
Graduate student Ryan Buzby placed third in the 3000 meter run, behind only Eastern Michigan senior Baldvin Magnusson (gold) and Akron freshman Brian Masai (silver). Buzby also placed fifth out of 12 competitors in the 5000 meter race.
Sophomore Calvin Finger was just eight centimeters away from gold in the high jump, claiming bronze with a two-meter jump.
And finally, in the men’s heptathlon, sophomore Kevin Gabalski won bronze with top-three finishes in the 60 meter dash, 60 meter hurdles, long jump and the 1,000 meter race. Senior Michael Wolford was right behind Gabalski, taking home fourth in the heptathlon, including top-three finishes in the shot put and pole vault.
While the indoor track season wraps up for the Bulls, the team prepares to transition to outdoor competition. UB has three more away meets, March 24 and 30, and April 1, before the spring opener at home on April 8. The MAC outdoor track and field championship is May 11-13 in Akron, Ohio.
Ryan Tantalo is the senior sports editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org