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Ohio's Kelsey Luebbe and Tajah Smith racing in the 100M dash during the Cherry Blossom Invitational on April 1. (FILE)

Track & Field: With the MAC Championships on the horizon, Ohio must find more momentum outside the field

Ohio will split up once again and travel to Marshall and Kent State this weekend as it prepares for the quickly approaching Mid-American Conference Championships that will be held two weeks from now — Feb. 23 and 24 — at Bowling Green.

The Bobcats are coming off two very successful meets at the Thundering Herd Open on Jan. 26 and 27 and last weekend’s Marietta Alumni Open. Although the competition at the meets wasn’t nearly as stiff as the competition it will face in the coming two weeks, Ohio is showing confidence as an overall team. It is maturing and showing more versatility in certain areas, specifically on the track where it struggled at the beginning of the season. 

There are still some miscues preventing Ohio from clicking as a whole, however, which is incredibly important in the team aspect of track and field.

At the Thundering Herd Open, the Bobcats only scored two of its 39.5 team points in track events. Even though that outcome showed off Ohio’s depth in field events, it shined a light on the group’s weaknesses. 

The Bobcats had a season-best nine event wins and 37 top-ten finishes at the Marietta Alumni Open. In the sprints, the Bobcats showed significant signs of improvement when four athletes placed in the top-ten in both the 55- and 200-meter dash. The times for the Bobcats weren’t where they’d like them to be, though, and the high finishes might of been in part due to the fact that the Bobcats were the only Division I team at the meet.

Throwers Jordan Porter, Abby Moore, and Gaza Odunaiya and jumpers Atiya Spaulding and Tana Barrett provide a strong core foundation for the Bobcats in the field. Any one of them is capable of placing at a big-time meet and totaling points for the Bobcats in a team race; however, the Bobcats need more than that if they want to compete against some of their conference’s best.

Ohio has built up a strong contingent of distance runners since the Youngstown State Invitational, the first meet of 2018. Runners like Melissa Barrett and Kaitlyn Logan can compete on a notable stage. The distance events could potentially be enough to alter Ohio’s projected MAC Championship finish in the team standings but there’s still a key piece to the puzzle missing.

Ohio needs its sprinters to step up. From the 60-meter dash to the 400-meter dash to the 4x400-meter relay, Ohio must find the athletes who can fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle and it needs to do it quickly. Last weekend’s meet in Marietta was a positive sign. Now that momentum has to be carried into this week and eventually the MAC Championships. 

This weekend’s Marshall Invitational will be a two-day meet. Field events will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Friday while track events will begin at 7:15 p.m. The only track events being contested Friday are the distance medley relay and the 5,000-meter. On Saturday, field events will start at 10:00 a.m., and track events will kick off at noon.

The Bobcats will also be in attendance at Saturday’s Kent State Qualifier. Field events will open at noon in Kent, and track events will start at 1 p.m.

If there’s a weekend Ohio’s sprinters can prove that their team can rely on them in the championship season, it’s this one. 


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