BUFFALO, NY – Expectations are high as the University at Buffalo men's and women's track and field teams embark on this weekend's Mid-American Conference Outdoor Championships at Central Michigan University.
"The MAC Championships is the culmination of the last 10 months of training and competition," said women's head coach Vicki Mitchell. "The women have prepared well, persevered through injuries, and produced performance marks all sesaon indicating that they are ready to compete with the best. Excellence is not an option; it is an expectation. Several women that have been making the headlines all season will be vying for top places at the MAC Championships."
UB's throwers will provide a big boost in the team's efforts at this season's meet. Last year, the Bulls claimed five throwing crowns, and although both sides redshirted MAC champions from 2011, UB is still loaded. Rob Golabek won the 2011 MAC shot put title on his way to All-American honors. He leads the league with a top throw of 63-4.75 (19.32m) this season, nearly six feet better than the second-best throw in the league. Corey Knox, who earned second-team All-MAC in the indoor shot put in February, holds the league's fourth-best mark at 56-10.75 (17.34m). Both Golabek and Knox set their marks at the Bucknell Bison Outdoor Classic on April 15. Golabek could also contend in the hammer throw where he posted his top throw of 184-1 (56.10m) at the Bucknell meet and ranks eighth in the league in the event. Knox and Shane Smith also rank in the league's top eight in the discus while Jacob Sunday ranks third in the MAC in the javelin after a 208-0 (63.42m) heave at the Penn Relays.
Although last year's MAC Outstanding Field Performer Becky O'Brien and Shante' White, the 2011 MAC women's hammer champion, redshirted this season, Kristy Woods, Rachel Roberts and Emma Miller have held their own at the top of the league's performance charts. Woods, an NCAA All-American in 2010, returned from her redshirt season and leads the Bulls in the shot put with a best throw of 50-10.75 (15.51m) at the Bucknell meet. Woods ranks third in the MAC in the event while Roberts is fourth after her top throw of 50-8 (15.44m) when she won the Eastern shot put at the Penn Relays. Miller ranks fourth in the MAC in the hammer throw with Woods sixth as both uncorked tosses of more than 183 feet at the Bucknell competition. Miller also ranks sixth in the discus with her top mark of 151-9 (46.26m) at the Florida Relays in early April.
Men's jumpers Tomarris Bell, John Strickland and Chris Reape could contend for league titles. Bell, a second-team All-MAC honoree during the indoor championships, has UB's top marks in the long jump (24-1, 7.34m) and triple jump (48-6.25, 14.79m). He ranks second in the MAC in the triple jump and third in the league's long jump. Strickland and Reape, both freshmen, each cleared 6-8.75 (2.05m) at last weekend's Jim Thorpe Open and are among four MAC athletes with the second-best height this season. Bell cleared 6-6.75 (2.00m) at the Penn Relays and is eighth in the MAC.
On the track, Miles Lewis holds the current position as the MAC's fastest man as he posted a UB school record 10.48 clocking in the preliminary heats of the 100-meters at the Penn Relays two weeks ago. Lewis went on to finish sixth in the championship final behind some of the country's top athletes. He also posted the second-fastest 200-meter time this season with a 21.42 clocking at the Bucknell meet. The time is .01 seconds behind the top mark set by Eastern Michigan freshman Cameron Bolton at the Mt. SAC Relays. Andre Britton should also challenge in the men's sprints after posting top times of 10.73 in the 100 and 21.71 in the 200 at the Bucknell meet. Britton is fifth in the league in the 200 and sixth in the league in the 100.
Women's sprinters Brooklynn Ventura and Jamiee McClary will be counted upon to bring home championship titles. Ventura set the UB record and posted the MAC's fastest time in the 100-meter hurdles on April 20 at the Cortland Classic Invitational when she finished in 13.60. The time is nearly a tenth of a second better than the next top hurdler. McClary holds UB's fastest 100-meter (11.92) and 200-meter (24.42) times this season.
Asia Henry posted this season's fastest time in the women's 800-meters when she finished in 2:07.49 at the Bucknell Bison Outdoor Classic. Henry was second to Western Michigan's Rachel Whitley at last season's championship meet and currently leads Whitley by three-quarters of a second this season.
Besides Ventura, UB's hurdles contingent includes Will Cole, Anna Holmes and Donna Jeanty in the men's and women's 400-meter events. and Jacob Wray in the men's 110-meters. Cole, the 2011 MAC champion in the men's 400-meter hurdles, ranks fourth this season in the MAC with his 53.11 clocking from the Florida Relays. Holmes, a fourth-place finisher in last year's women's 400-meter hurdles, ranks third in the league in 59.78, set at the Penn Relays and is one of only three hurdlers to complete the distance in under a minute. Jeanty is fourth in the MAC at 1:00.07 which she also set in Gainesville. Wray posted his season-best mark of 14.87 at the Rochester Invitational on April 7.
In the distance competitions, seniors Dylan Conway and John Inzina rank as UB's top two racers in the 5,000- and 10,000-meter events. Conway and Inzina stand second and third, respectively, in the MAC's 10,000-meters performance list thus far in 2012.
Freshman Emma Siuciak should contend in the heptathlon competition. Siuciak, who earned first-team All-MAC honors when she won the league's indoor high jump title in February, posted the league's top heptathlon point total of 4,990 at the Princeton Larry Ellis Invitational last month.
The UB men tied for fouth among six teams at last season's meet at Northern Illinois. The UB women finished fifth in a 12-team field. Both teams finished in the same spots at the 2010 MAC meet at UB Stadium.
Competition at Central Michigan University's Lyle Bennett Outdoor Track begins on Thursday, May 10 at 10:00 am with the men's javelin. Action on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12 commence at 11:00 am.