Women’s track team wins OVC title; Men finish second

Blake Nash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern women’s track team took first place in the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship held at Lantz Fieldhouse over the weekend.

The men’s team finished in second place to champion Southeast Missouri.

Coach Tom Akers was also named the OVC Women’s Track and Field Coach of the Year, and the Co-OVC Men’s Coach of the Year following the meet.

Akers gave credit to his team after the meet for his accomplishment, saying it was because of their performance during the season that he was able to win the award.

“I don’t win (awards). The team wins them,” Akers said. “The way they competed today was great, and I’m just sort of the figurehead who gets to accept that award.”

The Panther women finished with 132.5 total team points to get ahead of Tennessee State, who had 101, and Southeast Missouri had 98.5 points to round out the top three teams.

The top three teams in the men’s competition were Southeast Missouri, who won with 181 points, followed by Eastern with 169.5 and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville with 115 points.

The Eastern women finished first and second in the pole-vault competition, with senior Sadie Lovett and junior Annemarie Reid picking up gold and silver medals, respectively. This is the second consecutive indoor season that Lovett has won the gold medal.

Lovett said both she and Reid wanted to finish in the top two for the Panthers after being ranked first and second throughout the season.

“Us taking first and second would’ve been good team points for our team,” Lovett said. “Any other meet we just want to up our personal records, but today was the only time that the points and placing really matter.”

Akers said the pole-vaulters did a great job all season, especially after having to overcome a coaching change at the beginning of the season. The pole vaulting coach, Kyle Ellis, took over the same position at the University of Wisconsin. Akers took over that vacancy when the season began.

“There was a big change over from Coach Ellis to me,” Akers said. “They really stepped through and did a great job, especially Sadie. She kept an open mind through the things she was doing, and that’s just a reflection on her.”

Sophomore Bryn Buckwalter earned a gold medal in the women’s shot put competition for the Panthers, while freshman Haleigh Knapp won the Panthers a gold medal in the high jump. Her best mark of 5 feet, 6 inches, narrowly beat teammate Jackie Jones, who needed more attempts to best that feat.

All-OVC red-shirt junior sprinter Norvel Mohammed led the men’s team with a pair of first-place finishes in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. Mohammed won the 200 with a time of 21.64 and ran the 400 in 40.08 seconds. Mohammed was named the Co-OVC Male Athlete of the Year prior to the event.

“This season has been a dream come true,” Mohammed said. “Last year I couldn’t compete, and this year I felt I had a lot of things to make up for.”

Mohammed said in the future he expects a national championship run and knows he has the teammates that can help him get there.

“I think Norvel’s training is starting to pay off,” Akers said. “I think we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of what he’s capable of doing. He’s a fierce competitor.”

None of the Panthers qualified for nationals, but Akers said the future looks exciting for this team.

“If they continue to fight and work and compete like they did during this indoor season and weekend, who knows what they’ll accomplish,” Akers said. “We can never control what the other people do, just what we do, and I think we did one heck of a job this weekend.”


Blake Nash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]