Nate Perry, CMUChippewas.com
AKRON, Ohio. – Central Michigan indoor track and field finally got a chance to show some of its mettle against a number of Mid-American Conference opponents, and the Chippewas made the most of their opportunity.
Saturday afternoon’s Gold Division events at the Akron Invitational featured the top talent at the meet, and a number of Chippewas made their presence felt.
Leading the way yet again for CMU were the jumping and throwing corps, which have anchored the team’s performance all season.
Nadia Williams jumped 6.04 meters (19 feet, 9 ¾ inches) on her second and third attempts to win the women’s long jump. Williams was in a class of her own in the event, beating out runners-up Emily Omahen of Windsor and Cayla Carey of Kent State by full 7 inches.
Williams followed up her long jump victory with a fourth place in the women’s 200, coming in at 24.93 seconds.
“Nadia was great, which is pretty typical,” said Jenny Swieton, CMU director of track and field/cross country. “She works really hard, which allows her to show her talent every time she comes out.”
Chippewas Ryan Taylor (men’s triple jump), Logan Targgart (men’s weight throw) and Erin Howard (women’s shot put) all took second place in the gold segments of their respective events.
Taylor’s 14.62-meter (47-11 3/4) leap on his first attempt in the men’s triple jump held up for a runner-up finish and was the best of any MAC competitor.
The freshman from Kitchener, Ont. edged promising Kent State freshman and No. 1 seed Anthony Milliner by 2 inches. South Florida’s Errol Ennis won in dominant fashion with a 15.06-meter jump (49-5).
Targgart took second place with his second 19.29-meter toss (63-3 1/2) of this indoor season. Philip Jagers of Akron recorded a 19.71-meter throw (64-8) placed first.
Howard took the lead in the fifth attempt of her series with a 14.89-meter throw, but was beaten out by Akron’s Abigale Wilson, who launched the shot 15.43 meters (50-7 1/2) on her final attempt to take the title. Howard went 15.14 meters (49-8 1/4) on her final throw, but it wasn’t enough.
CMU’s Ja’La Taylor was fourth in the women’s triple jump with a 12.07-meter (39-7 1/4) leap, which tied her career best.
“It kind of feels like a broken record, but our throwers and jumpers all had a very good meet, again,” Swieton said. “It’s exciting to think about what they can do later in the season.”
On the track, CMU was led by Gabriella Beauvais and Erick Huertas, who won the women’s and men’s 400-meter dashes, respectively.
Beauvais ran the 400 in a career-best 55.40 seconds, which broke her previous best by exactly one-half second, and topped the No. 1 seed – Kent State’s Tyler Williams – by one-10th of a second. Beauvais now owns the third-best time in the MAC and has automatically qualified for the MAC Championships. Teammate Simonae Dismuke finished third at 56.34.
Huertas came into the men’s 400 as the top seed and won in 48.87 seconds. Huertas’ time is seventh-best in the conference.
“It was great to see our 400-meter people have such a big day and bring home some wins,” Swieton said. “That was probably the highlight of the meet.”
CMU’s Luke Anderson came in third in the men’s mile with a time of 4:12.47. In the process, Anderson topped Logan Kleam’s mark of 4:14.89 at the SVSU Doug Hansen Open for the team’s season-best. Kleam was sixth in 4:14.63.
The Chippewas’ Jack Dodge placed fourth in the men’s 200 with a career-best time of 21.63 seconds. Kent State’s Riak Reese, the owner of the fastest 200-meter time in the conference, won the event impressively at 21.02.
CMU’s Emmett Smrcka was fifth in a hotly contested men’s 800. Smrcka came across the line in 1:53.64, which was just over 1 second behind the event winner, Grzegorz Kunc of Kent State.
CMU also had success in the Blue Division events, led by Brooklin Klopf’s victory in the women’s shot put. Klopf won with a 13.78-meter throw (45-2 1/2).
Other top CMU finishes in the Blue Division: A.J. Frens (second, men’s pole vault); Marissa Dunn (third, women’s weight throw); Aaron Taylor (third, men’s high jump); Connor Covert (fourth, men’s shot put); Allee Bunting (fourth, women’s shot put); Sam Wagner (fourth, men’s pole vault); and Emily Helfrich (fourth, women’s high jump).
“It was nice to see us compete well, especially in a setting like this that was kind of like a conference meet,” Swieton said. “Came home with a few wins, lots of top-five and top-10 finishes, and some of our younger Chippewas are really stepping up. I’m excited to see everything come together.”
The Chipppewas are scheduled to compete in the Grand Valley State Big Meet on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9-10.