Women's Swimming and Diving isn't the only team working for MAC Championships this weekend. Both Track and Field teams are in action today and tomorrow in Central Michigan for the MAC Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Both teams have set numerous school records this season already and will look to improve on last year's matching fourth-place finishes. The 2014 result was the highest in program history for the women, and the 101 points earned over the course of the meet were a record for the men.
Looking over the seed times and lineup sheets, as I did for Swimming and Diving, the men seem the much deeper team; really the 400 is the only place they don't have a [[top-four]] contender, but their overall success will be hurt by the apparent absence of Mike Morgan in the heptathlon and the certain absence of Ryan Billian in the long jump.
Both Billian (outdoor long jump) and Morgan (indoor heptathlon, outdoor decathlon) were All-Americans last year. Morgan would have been a near-shoe-in for the conference heptathlon title, and Billian, sitting out the winter season with a redshirt, would have likely finished top-five despite a glut of Akron freshman in the event.
But alas. I do think the men still have a decent shot of improving on last year's 101 points earned.
Something you'll notice quickly if you look through the seed sheets is that Akron is absolutely loaded. They own the sprints and jumps, EMU the mid and longer distance, and UB the throws.
I thought the shortest distances were going to be the biggest weaknesses for the men's team, but UB has a number of guys in contention for points in each event. Darien Johnson has been a force in the 60m dash, and while he's a full .15 behind Kent's Wayne Gordon, maybe a bad start makes things interesting. Brian Cummiskey should also make the final.
Jalen Law is one of the lowest-seeded runners in the 60, but he and Cummiskey could both make the 200m final. The 400 is a bit tougher of a go, as Josh Gali and Mitchell Moore are the two lowest seeds in the event.
Jake Wray is UB's top entrant in the 60 Hurdles. He's been just a hair behind Morgan all year, but is solid in his own right and could grab third.
Tyler Scheving should really push for a title in the 800, and that will be a fun race. Thomas Meehan is seeded sixth and also in good shape to earn points. There's a clear top two in the mile well ahead of the field, but there's no reason Brian Crimmins can't take third for the Bulls, and maybe John McCarthy climbs to sixth or so.
Cross-country anchor Cameron Bruce is seeded eighth in the 3000, but could hopefully get up to fifth, at least, while Zach Ahart is seventh seed in the 5000, but only seconds out of third.
I don't feel like there's enough information to make solid predictions on the relays. UB is fourth seed in the 4x4, but the five teams are separated by only seven seconds. Only three of the five schools have seed times in the Distance Medley, but UB does sit second.
Mike Morgan and Chris Reape are 3-4 in the seeds in the high jump and in great shape to perhaps jump even higher or capitalize on the top-two seeds not living up to their billing. This could be a great spot to get points. It's also Morgan's only event, which again, confuses me.
Akron's Shawn Barber is going to win the pole vault after upping his own NCAA record a few weeks back. Craig Howard is kind of all on his own in a tier at fourth place, and Adam Hume could jump up into fifth.
UB has three pretty much even entrants in the long jump, but none are Billian. Seeded seventh, eighth, and ninth, maybe one of Austin Ashby, Austin Price, and Donald McCann can sneak into the top fifth. Price and Kaishaun Cathey are stronger bets for the top five in the triple jump, an event I understand conceptually but can't figure out just quite how it happens.
Jon Jones will win the shot put for UB. I'd bet more money on it than anything else surrounding UB sports this year. But I won't, because that's illegal. Jones has a two-meter advantage on the second seed, UB freshman Devon Patterson, who's quite good himself, just not Jones. It would be cool to see a strong through from Ryan Cribbin to get into the top five as well.
UB has no one in the weight throw and only Craig Howard in the heptathlon. I really hope Morgan has somehow already qualified for nationals in that event, because he's got a real shot to win it all.
UB graduated a lot of sprinting depth last year and will probably see top performances from the distance side of things, where Melinda Wheeler has broken two school records this year and Meghan Manley has also put together a strong season.
Camaria Long can win the 60m dash. Such a short race, but she's the third seed by only .03 seconds. She's the second seed in the 200 as well, but in each event the only Bull.
Kyla Kenyon is the lone Bull in the 400. She's seeded 17th of 20, but only one second separates her from the seventh seed.
UB's real sprinting strength comes in the 60 meter hurdles, where Kailyn Arcury and Christine Lyttle are seeded 5-6. Once again, it's such a short race that anything can happen.
Meghan Manley is a definite threat to win the 800, while Fabiola Oubida and Lauren Jenney could both move up the list with a strong run. Melinda Wheeler is the woman of the season for UB, and could win the mile, though I wouldn't bet on anyone beating EMU's Victoria Voronko. Freshman Amy Shaw has had a strong debut season, but is likely not a threat in the 3000, and UB has nobody entered in the 5000.
UB's seeded fourth, rounding out a clear top tier in the 4x400. Maybe things go right there. They also should put up a good fight for second in the Distance Medley, but Toledo is likely to take the crown there.
Emma Siuciak has been awesome this season and is seeded third, but is closer to 11th than first in the high jump. Anything can happen. Kelly Truppo likewise has been strong in the pole vault, but there's lots of good vaulters in the conference. Top five is very possible.
Tyra Forbes is seeded fourth in the long jump, but it's another scenario where she's closer to 11th than second. Still, she could pull a lot of points for the Bulls. She's also UB's best option in the triple jump, seeded 11th.
In the shot put, Mackenzie Kuehlewind and Joanna Hallisy are both freshman and unlikely to challenge an experienced group of competitors. Likewise with Kuehlewind and Miranda Daucher in the weight throw.
UB has no one entered in the pentathlon.
Visit the site tonight for a roundup of Day One, and tomorrow for a full recap of the Championships