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Mya Hodge competes in the 100m hurdles at Ohio Track and Field's Cherry Blossom Invitational on April 7. (FILE)

Track & Field: Emily Deering secures MAC Championship bid in annual Jesse Owens Track Classic

Ohio traveled to the historic Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium over the weekend to compete against a heavy Mid-American Conference field in the annual Jesse Owens Track Classic. 

The weekend’s action began with the hammer throw Friday afternoon, and Ohio junior Gaza Odunaiya once again got her team off to a great start.

Odunaiya threw for a lifetime-best for the second straight week. She placed second in the open hammer throw, with her toss of 54.85 meters (179.9 feet), beating her 54.64-meter toss from last week in Charlotte. 

The personal records, or PRs, didn’t stop dropping there for the Bobcats.

Freshman Abby Moore also threw for a lifetime-best for the second straight week in the hammer throw. She placed 10th in the open competition with her twirl of 50.97 meters (167.3 feet). She climbed to 10th in the MAC with that throw. 

Emma Ryan, a strong MAC Championship contender, placed fifth for the Bobcats later on in the open javelin. She had her best performance of the year in the event, throwing for 43.97 meters (144.3 feet). 

Tajah Haley, another crucial MAC Championship contender in the javelin for the Bobcats, placed 14th with her toss of 39.11 meters (128.4 feet).

A pair of distance races to close out Friday’s schedule set the tone for day two of the Jesse Owens Track Classic.

Despite it being their first time running the race since the indoor MAC Championships in February, Ohio’s Ellen Isaac and Alyssa Atkinson ran two big times in the 5,000 meters.

Isaac saved her best lap for last. She ran her fastest split of the grueling 5,000-meter race in her final lap to take the open event win in 17:16.39. In the more competitive 5,000-meter showcase, Atkinson finished in 17:23.56. Isaac and Atkinson now rank 12th and 16th in the MAC, respectively, with their times. 

Melissa Koziol was once again the top finisher for the Bobcats in the 1,500 meters and she once again walked away with a new PR. Her time of 4:37.77 placed 15th. Josie Woosley also ran a PR in 4:41.08 to finish 22nd. 

Day two’s slate of action kicked off in the shot put. 

Ohio senior Jordan Porter is quite familiar with the pressure of a competition coming down to her final throws by this point. After three consecutive fouls, she sat in last heading into the final round of the shot put championship. Her best throw of the meet, however, came on her final and sixth attempt. 

Porter delivered a season-best launch of 15.48 meters (50.9 feet) to jump four other throwers in the standings and place fifth overall. It was the start to the day Ohio needed to carry over its momentum from the first day of the meet.

Coming off her top performance of all-time in the hammer throw, Odunaiya led Ohio in the 48-athlete discus field. She placed 12th with her toss of 45.09 meters (147.9 feet). Ryan followed her in 19th with her 42.85-meter (140.6 feet) toss. 

Saturday’s track events began with the 4x100 relay. The Ohio sprinting group of Thelma Agyekum, Courtney Guiley, Mya Hodge and Abby Summers ran one lap in 48.72 seconds to finish 10th out of 13 teams. That is Ohio's top time to date this outdoor season. Ohio State won the race in 44.92 seconds. 

Hodge returned to the track to represent Ohio in the 100-meter hurdles. She placed 10th with her time of 14.57 seconds.

The four Ohio 4x100 relay teammates all competed against one another in the 100 meters. Abby Summers finished with the top time of the group, sprinting to a time of 12.71 seconds. 

Marissa Handel dashed to a new PR in the 400 meters. She ran one lap in 57.08 seconds to take 14th. She has now ran a sub-58 time for two weeks in a row. 

Ohio's best track performance of the weekend came later on in the 800 meters. 

Emily Deering had a monstrous two-lap run. She broke her PR by almost two seconds and automatically qualified for the MAC Championships with her time of 2:10.45. She placed ninth overall and climbed to third in the MAC rankings with her performance.

The Bobcats didn’t field a team for the 4x400 relay race. 

Ohio travels to Michigan for its next meet to compete in the Hillsdale Gina Relays. The meet will be a homecoming for Ohio coach Clay Calkins, who served as a Hillsdale College assistant for a little over three years before returning to Athens in 2002. 


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