Very few events were settled on the first day of the MAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, so Bulls fans shouldn't be critical of UB's 5th (Men) and 6th (Women) place standings heading into the finishing day of the competition.
In fact, given the depth issues I outlined in the Championships Preview (see below), Bulls fans should be pleased with how many of the student-athletes qualified for their respective finals or earned points today.
Given that I've spent so much time dwelling on it, I should note early on that I learned what's up with Mike Morgan, sitting out the heptathlon this meet despite being almost a shoe-in for the title. Mike's in-season score in the heptathlon was good enough to send him to Nationals so he's been held out of this meet as a precaution.
I never publicly raised concern about Morgan qualifying for the national meet, which is a mistake on my end, but I'm glad to hear it. Given that his performance in the (outdoor) decathlon last spring was cut short by a foot injury, and that UB's unlikely right now to compete for a title in this weekend's meet, I'm fine with it.
Moving on, after the first day UB's got one conference title under their belt, a number of points-earning finishes, and nearly no disappointments in preliminary qualifying.
The highlights for Buffalo came in the last races of the day, where Blue and White claimed a championship in the Men's Distance Medley Relay and a bronze medal in the women's edition. For the men, it was Cameron Bruce, Treyvon Mask, Tyler Scheving, and Zach Ahart cruising to the title by over five seconds.
Melinda Wheeler, Sara Flores, Corinne Birchard, and Amy Shaw composed the women's squad. All sophomores and freshmen, the quarter will hopefully claim many more medals over the next two and a half years.
Generally, UB did well to outperform their seed and earn points in the other opportunities today. Kelly Truppo couldn't top her seed mark of 4.00 meters in the pole vault, stalling after a clearance at 3.88, but still claimed fifth. Austin Ashby in the long jump matched that finish, and was joined on the men's side by Zach Ahart, who finished sixth in the 5000 meter run.
Tyra Forbes (long jump) and McKenzie Kuehlewind (weight throw) were the highest-finishing competitors not to earn points in their events, but Kuehlewind and teammate Miranda Daucher each set personal bests in the event. Both are freshman. Craig Howard on the men's side sits fourth with three events left tomorrow in the Heptathlon. He's just three points out of third.
In terms of Bulls setting themselves up for tomorrow's success, I can't say enough about Camaria Long. It's a shame there's no one from UB with her, because she's got a great shot at doubling the 60 and 200 meter dashes tomorrow. She's the fifth qualifier in the 60 but only .07 seconds off the #1 spot, and the top qualifier in the 200 by a substantial third of a second.
The other qualifiers for tomorrow's finals for the women came from Kailyn Arcury, Christine Lyttle, and Meghan Manley. The first two continued their neck-and-neck season in the 60 meter hurdles. They're seeded third and fourth in a very tight finals pack. Manley is the second seed in the 800 meter run.
For the men, Darien Johnson and Brian Cummiskey each qualified into a 60m dash field separated entirely by .16 seconds, but the Bulls were - somewhat unsurprisingly - unable to get a berth in the 200 or 400 finals, though Josh Gali was the first man out in the latter. Tyler Scheving and Thomas Meehan both qualified in the 800.
Tomorrow is the finale of the meet, and will be a much busier day. In addition to all the events that demanding prelims, there will be men's and women's champions crowned in the triple jump, shot put, high jump, mile run, 3000 meter run, and 4x400 meter relay, as well as men's weight throw and pole vault.