Between redshirts and precautions before nationals, only one of UB's three All-Americans actually competed in this weekend's MAC Championships.
But boy, did Jon Jones show up in the shot put. The Buffalo senior claimed the event for the third consecutive year, breaking and re-breaking his old MAC record before topping the school record, as well. His 20.06-meter throw is the fifth-best in the nation this season.
All told, the UB Men finished fourth overall, matching their showing from last year, while the women dropped one spot to fifth, which is frankly understandable given how much sprinting depth they graduated.
Jones' title was the highlight of a strong day for UB. And the best part is - literally the very best part - is that he did it all without taking off his wristwatch:
UB places 5th woth Devon & 1st with Jon Jones! #UBTF #MACTION #UBTF pic.twitter.com/zszytFPuok— UB Track/XC (@UB_XCTF) February 28, 2015
This was really the only drama in the event; Jones' first and shortest throw was still plenty good enough to win the title on its own, and I was almost as excited to get confirmation from miler Melinda Wheeler that the wristwatch was still on as I was to confirm the championship for Jones.
Beyond the senior, freshman Devon Patterson, formerly of Williamsville South, claimed fifth in the event. He's pretty good himself.
The men's side had a strong start to the day across all events. Craig Howard gained over 100 points on the leader in the final two events of the heptathlon to take silver - just five points from a championships - after sitting fourth, and Brian Crimmins took bronze in the mile. Laurent Dure jumped a personal-best in the high jump to also claim bronze, as did Jake Wray in the 60 meter hurdles.
Those successes helped UB stay in the pack heading into the home stretch of the meet. Though EMU had a large advantage, the Bulls were narrowly hanging with Akron. But zero points in the 400 and just four in the 60 - from Darien Johnson - hurt the Bulls in the standings.
Tyler Scheving and Thomas Meehan went 2-5 in the 800. I don't believe that UB got any points in the 3000 or a substantial finish in the 4x400, but matching last year's effort without Mike Morgan or Ryan Billian seems like a sign of growth to me.
All told, the mens' team had two winners (Distance Medley Relay, Jones), two second-place finishers in Howard and Scheving, and three thirds in Crimmins, Dure, and Wray.
For the women, points came in the shortest events. Kailyn Arcury and Christine Lyttle went 5-6 in the 60 hurdles, and Camaria Long continued her standout career (she's only a sophomore!) with a third-place finish in the 60-meter dash and a repeat championships in the 200. Skip the 400, and UB also claimed a title in the 800 thanks to Meghan Manley.
I don't have results right now for the the women's high jump or 3000 (or the men's pole vault), so there may be more additional highlights there.
Looking over the women's results this weekend, what sticks out to me is the future. UB had a number of near-misses for points: Melinda Wheeler just missed in the mile, McKenzie Kuehlewind the shot and weight throw, Tyra Forbes the long jump. All are underclassmen poised to move up the conference ranks in the future. Kelly Truppo is a junior. The entire 4x400 team is returning. Next year could be real good for the Bulls.
It's a pretty quick turnaround for the Track and Field Teams. Jones, Morgan, and anyone else who qualified for Indoor Nationals will head to Fayetteville, AR for the NCAA Indoor Nationals in two weeks, and the first meet of the outdoor season is just the week after that at Wake Forest.