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Ohio junior Zach Zimmerman leads a group of runners at Marshall University's Chris Cline Athletic Complex on Jan. 27, 2017. (FILE)

Track & Field: Alyssa Atkinson leads the way for Ohio at Kent State National Qualifier

26 seconds. 

A 26-second differential is a lot in track and field, to say the least. 

And that was the difference in time between Ohio junior Alyssa Atkinson and her nearest competitor in the 5,000-meters Saturday at the Kent State National Qualifier. 

To close a dominating run, Atkinson crossed the finish line in 17:29.10 to capture Ohio’s lone win for the day. Outside of Atkinson, five other Bobcats finished in the top five in their respective events. 

The Bobcats collided with a tough field that included four Mid-American Conference foes and two power-five schools — Kent State, Akron, Toledo, Buffalo, Michigan, Pitt, Ashland and Tiffin were all in attendance. 

The success for the Bobcats in the 5,000-meters wasn’t limited to Atkinson. Three of the top four placers in the race were in green and white: Atkinson and sophomores Abby Miller and Tiffany Hill. Miller finished in second, while Hill rallied for a fourth-place finish to get the day started for the Bobcats. 

In the 400-meter dash, Marissa Handel ran a sub-60 and season-best time of 58.03 seconds to place ninth. Ohio’s other mid-distance top-ten result came in the 800-meter run in which Melissa Barrett placed ninth. 

Ohio placed three runners in the top part of the mile race. Josie Woosley and Melissa Koziol placed sixth and seventh, while Tara Tollett placed ninth. All three finished with season-best performances. 

The Ohio distance runners were represented well again in the 3,000-meters. Ellen Isaac ran a 10:13.97 to place third overall behind runners from Kent State and Toledo. Hailey Bowes finished in fifth place with a time of 10:25.37. Christina Seas finished in seventh. 

In the shot put, Jordan Porter struggled with three fouls on six attempts. She did, however, manage to throw 13.89 meters (45 feet) to place sixth.

In the weight throw, two Ohio throwers tossed their bests: Gaza Odunaiya threw 18.49 meters (60 feet) to place fourth, while Cassidy Cleland threw 16.34 meters (53 feet) to place ninth. Odunaiya’s throw is the seventh-best throw in the MAC this indoor season, just two weeks prior to the conference championships. 

The Bobcats will be back in action Friday in Columbus for the Buckeye Tune-Up before their postseason begins with the MAC Championships next week. 


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