Men’s track and field team wins OVC

Tyler McCluskey, Staff Reporter

The men’s track team won the OVC Championship over the weekend after being in last after the first day. The Eastern men and women’s track and field teams worked relentlessly leading up to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

The men finished six points ahead of Southeast Missouri with a score of 140. The women’s track and field team finished second behind Tennessee State’s 124 points with 99 points.

“Winning an OVC title is one of our team goals every year,” coach Tom Akers said. “When you are favored to win, the victory is almost a relief, but this year our men’s team was an underdog so it will be a special win.”

On the first day of the OVC championship, the Panthers were last among men’s teams, 16 points out, and first among women’s.

“They saw the meet through to the end, took every event to the end, and made every point count,” Akers said.

Three Panthers won first place medals. Sophomore Haleigh Knapp set a championship record in the high jump, clearing 5’09.75”. Junior Paxson Menard had a time of 14:52.20 in the 5000-meter run, which is the third time in the last four years the Panthers have won the 5K. Senior Janie Howse had an 18.97 meter throw in the weight throw which improved her school record. All earned first-team all OVC honors.

Senior Mark Pedziwiatr ran an indoor personal record of 1:54.00 and finished 9th in the 800, while sophomore Michael Brown made the finals with a time of 1:53.76. Freshman Ashton Wilson finished fouth in the high jump with a jump of 1.98 meters.

Senior Calvin Edwards, junior Jamal Robinson, and senior Christian Ilunga-Matthiesen all qualified for the men’s 200 meter final.

The men’s distance medley relay team of freshman Matt Goldby, Pedziwiatr, freshman Michael Miller, and junior Riley McInerney finished third overall with a time of 10:20.13. For the women, the team of senior Kristen Paris, senior Dhiaa Dean, senior Amy Yeoman, and freshman Jocelyn Mendoza took second with a time of 11:58.48.

Overall, the Panthers had 17 runners advance to the finals on the first day.

For the second day, both the men and women continued having success throughout each event having nine first place medals and 18 top three finishes.

Junior Riley Kittridge won the men’s shot put with a personal best 57’00.25” and is also third in EIU history. Junior John Piper won the 55-meter hurdle with a time of 7.60, and junior Elven Walker placed fifth. Robinson won first place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 21.69, a personal record, and took second place in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.352. Ilunga-Matthiesen took home third place in the 55-meter with a time of 6.345. Senior Eric Gordon took home a silver medal with a 15’11” pole-vault which helped him reach first for the heptathlon with a total of 4814 points. McInerney finished first in the mile run in 4:12.56.

Junior Bryn Buckwalter won women’s shot put with a 48’11.00” throw to put her second on EIU’s list. Sophomore Haleigh Knapp won the women’s high jump tying the OVC record with a 5’09.75 jump. Yeoman placed second with a 4:55.23 mile run.

“I am so proud of the way the women battled too. We had gals step up and perform well, but it was not enough to outscore TSU,” Akers said.

Akers said that he hopes the women’s team takes this as a challenge and sets their sights on working hard and to challenge them again in the outdoor championships.

Coach Akers was awarded the OVC Men’s Coach of the Year.

“I have the good fortune to have a great group of coaches that share the same vision and have a passion for our student-athletes. Without them, the award is not a reality,” Akers said.


Tyler McCluskey can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]u