Men’s track wins OVC Championship, women take 5th


File Photo | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern junior Jeremy Bekkouche (left) and sophomore Nick Oakley (right) compete in the EIU John Craft Invite Jan. 18 in the Lantz Field House.

Oscar Rzodkiewicz, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern men’s track team took first place in the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Track and Field Championship Thursday, the team’s first conference championship win since 2017, while the women’s team placed fifth.

The men’s team trailed by 9.5 points heading into day two of the event, but four first-place finishes, including two from senior Shandall Thomas, propelled the team to 154 points, edging out Southeast Missouri by 3.5 points.

Thomas took first in the 60-meter with a time of 6.86 seconds before also winning the 200-meter with a 21.66 mark.

Freshman Adam Swanson was also a top finisher for the Panthers, taking home gold in the 800-meter with a time of 1:52.40, while sophomore Jekeel Suber finished in first place for the 60-meter hurdles with an 8.20 time.

First-place finishes were only part of the battle, though, as the men’s 4×400-meter relay, consisting of junior Tadiwa Mhonde, sophomore Riley Baker, freshman Damian Clay and freshman Ricky Johnson, took second place with a time of 3:14.59, just 0.06 seconds behind first-place Tennessee State.

Sophomore Dustin Hatfield, who was named OVC Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year, was also a runner-up in the 3000-meter with a time of 8:08.76.

Other top finishers from day two include senior Joe Smith, who took second in the triple jump with a 52-5.25 mark, and sophomore Riley Baker, who finished third in the 400-meter at a time of 48.74.

This marks the team’s first OVC win since 2017 after finishing second the previous two years.

To go along with the first-place finish, coach Brenton Emanuel won OVC Men’s Indoor Track Coach of the Year.

On the women’s side, there were still plenty of strong points, as senior Grace Rowan and senior Lindsey Carlson took first and second, respectively, as Rowan took the top spot with a time of 4:52.45 and Carlson finished just behind her at 4:55.76.

On top of that, junior Makenna Wilson continued her dominance in the shot put, registering a 50-4.00 throw to take first place.

Other top finishers included freshman Shanisa Stinson, who finished fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.94, and freshman Danielle Frank, who took third in the 200-meter with a 24.48 time.

The women’s team took a step up from last year’s performance at the OVC championship, in which they placed ninth.


Oscar Rzodkiewicz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]