Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
ALLENDALE, Mich. - After weeks of preparation and training, the CMU women's 4x400-meter relay team made its season debut on Friday night at the Grand Valley State Big Meet.
The result: a school record, breaking a mark that had stood for more than a decade.
Gabriella Beauvais, Simonae Dismuke, Kyla Walton and anchor Samantha Cuneo completed the race in 3 minutes, 40.32 seconds, breaking the Chippewa mark of 3:41.3 set in 2007, and laying claim to the fastest time of any Mid-American Conference team this season.
The Chippewa foursome dominated the field, besting runner-up Grand Valley by more than two seconds (3:42.38) to add 10 points to CMU's women's team total.
"They just looked awesome out there, and they were absolutely flying," said Jenny Swieton, CMU's Director of Track and Field/Cross Country. "They ran in the first heat and had a little competition from Grand Valley, but after that, their time went unchallenged."
The other 10-point scorer for CMU on Friday was senior Sam Wagner in the men's pole vault. Wagner cleared 5.10 meters (16 feet, 8 3/4 inches) for the first time in his career and moved up to third on the MAC Indoor Performance List.
Wagner struggled in his first two attempts at 4.85 meters before getting over the bar on his third and final try. The Burlington, Wis. native then vaulted over the 5.00 and 5.10-meter marks on his first attempt at each height before the competition ended at 5.20.
Right behind Wagner was teammate Isaac Sadzewicz, a sophomore who needed two tries to get over 5.10 meters to take second place. The Chippewa duo led an impressive field of 23 vaulters.
"Super performances for both them," Swieton said. "It was especially big because I don't think last week (Akron Invitational) went as well as they probably wanted it to, but it was great to see them bounce back like that."
After being hampered by a groin injury over the first few weeks of the season, CMU's Shane Moffo posted a time of 8.04 seconds in the final portion of the Invite 60-meter hurdles to place third.
In the process, Moffo proved his name belongs among the conference elite in the event, finishing ahead of Eastern Michigan's Devonte Findlay and Ivan Suazo, who came in fourth and sixth, respectively.
Findlay has the MAC's fastest time in the 60 hurdles at 7.95 seconds and Suazo is No. 3 on the list - behind Moffo - at 8.07.
"Shane hasn't raced very much because of his groin, so I think it was just good for him to get a prelim and a final in on the same day, more than anything," Swieton said. "Beating some of the big names in the conference today was also a big step forward."
The Chippewas also got strong showings from sophomore Bransen Stimpfel and freshmen Logan Kleam and Conor Naughton in the men's 5,000 meters.
Kleam and Stimpfel ran in the first of seven heats and ended up eighth and 20th, respectively, out of 191 runners. Kleam finished in 14:30.33 in his first career indoor 5K, but Swieton credited Stimpfel - whose time of 14:46.37 was a personal best by more than 20 seconds - with lighting the spark under the group of young distance men.
"I thought Bransen really got the ball rolling for us with that huge (personal record) in the first section," she said. "That really got the rest of the guys fired up and then they just followed suit after he set the standard.
"Whenever you see those guys close gaps between themselves like that, it just shows that our team is getting better."
Naughton followed up in the second heat, turning in a 14:37.91 that ended up 16th-fastest, and was nearly a 12-second improvement on his previous best.
CMU's Erin Howard took fourth place in the women's invitational shot put with a personal best 15.51-meter (51-1) toss. Howard finished behind unattached Danielle Hill, who won impressively at 18.18 meters (59-7 3/4), and Bowling Green's Elizabeth Iversen and Aliyah Gustafson, the top two names on the MAC Performance List for the event.
Chippewa Brooklin Klopf took third place out of 29 throwers in the women's open shot put with a personal record distance of 14.36 meters (47-1 1/2).
"Today was exciting because we had most of the team competing in the same events they will compete in at the MAC Championships," Swieton said. "Then, when you think about all the high finishes and PRs we had, I think it will make them hungry when they get that next opportunity to get better. "