Eastern hosts the John Craft Invite this weekend

Mark Shanahan, Staff Reporter

The men and women’s track and field teams are back in action this weekend as they host the annual EIU John Craft Invite.

The Division I teams that are participating in the John Craft Invite are Illinois State University, Western Illinois University, Saint Louis University and Bradley University.

Division III teams are Rend Lake College, McKendree University, Maryville University, Wabash College and Illinois Track and Field club.

Coach Tom Akers isn’t preparing the athletes any differently this week than he has others.

“It’s another work week for us, so these first couple weeks back from Christmas break we just got to get some quality work in so we are just working hard throughout the week and hopefully have the chance to get out and get some good performances,” he said. “We want to just have some really competitive efforts but we’re not too worried about time or performances right now.”

Akers highlighted some of the teams that will be at the meet.

“Illinois State is very strong and Western we’ve seen the past couple weekends, they have some very solid individuals but not a lot of depth right now,” he said. “I haven’t seen St. Louis so we are not really sure what they’re going to be bringing up quality wise and Bradley is primarily a middle distance, distance oriented program so they’ll be very solid in those events.”

Eastern men and women’s teams topped Bradley, Saint Louis and Western Illinois last weekend at the Illini Classic.

The men were defeated by Illinois State in double duels earlier this season. The women’s team beat ISU 129-90 during the double duels at the EIU Early Bird.

Akers discussed the health of both teams.

“At this point in time I think we are pretty good to go so we’ll keep our fingers crossed and hope that stays through the end of the week,” Akers said.

Akers pointed out some things that his athletes need to work on for this upcoming meet.

“One, just to get out there and be competitive, put themselves in position to compete,” he said. “I thought that was one of the things we fell a little short on this last weekend. Have a good team atmosphere cheering on for their teammates and when things start getting a little rough we just have to battle through some rough spots and kids that have second and third opportunities to compete. If they have a bad performance they have to bounce back with a better performance on their second or third event.”

The John Craft Invite begins with multi events on Friday night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. then on Saturday morning with field events starting at 9 a.m. and running events beginning at 11:30 a.m.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 and [email protected]