The MAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships start today, and with them the final chance for UB MAC Championships during this historic year.
Both the Men's and Women's Track and Field squads have had banner seasons in their own right, dating back to the opening meets in January. The Men's record books have seen eight new school records, while the women's have seen seven, though a few of those were lowered multiple times this year.
Still, it's probably unlikely that either team win a team championship in a conference with some standout teams. Last year the women finished fourth of 12 in an evenly packed field, while the men also finished fourth, but of six, though they were closer to first than fifth.
This season if I had to guess, I'd say the men are more likely to improve their position, while the women are most likely to stay at fourth but could drop. The women in particular lost a huge chunk of their sprint relay teams, which accounted for two championships last year, though across the board UB's mid-distance runners should clean up.
Tyra Forbes and Malayah White are UB's only two entries in the 100m dash, and both are relatively middle-of-the-pack when it comes to seed times. If one or both of them can get into the finals, anything can happen. In the 200m dash, Camaria Long is the clear favorite, one of only four runners below 24.00 on the season and a full quarter of a second faster than the nearest competition. Anything other than a championship would maybe not be a huge surprise, but it would be a disappointment. UB has no other entrants in the 200.
Kailyn Arcury, Christine Lyttle, and Sabrina Bush are all entered in the 100m hurdles. Arcury has the third-fastest seed time, but she and Lyttle are in a cluster of entrants who have run between 13.80 and 14.10, and could finish anywhere from top-three to out of the finals.
Buffalo has no entrants at all in the 400m dash, and two in the 400m hurdles in Brianna Colello and Regine Lazard. Lazard has a great chance to make the final and perhaps finish top-five, but will likely need to go under 1:00 to place higher.
UB's the defending champion in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, though as I said above, many of those runners have graduated. The Bulls are seeded tenth, about ten second behind the main pack, in the longer event, and sixth in the 4x100, though that race is short enough that really anything can happen.
The 800 has been so exciting this year, and Meghan Manley is possibly UB's second-biggest favorite to win in the whole meet. She's got the fastest seed time in the event, one of only three women below 2:09, and the next two fastest seeds are in the other preliminary heat, meaning Manley should coast into the final. Corinne Birchard is also a strong contender to reach the final.
Melinda Wheeler is seeded sixth in the 1500, and can perhaps move up in a relatively tight field once she makes the final. But EMU's Victoria Voronko is going to win. In the longest events, Meagan Hopkins is middle-of-the-pack in the steeplechase, Amy Shaw and Morgan Mahoney are near the bottom of the 5000, and nobody is entered in the 10000.
Emma Siuciak is seeded third in the Heptathlon, and Isabella Borini will also compete for the Bulls. Those events are likely underway now as I frantically get this post up.
Forbes, Arcury, and jumps specialist Kelly Truppo are all in the Long Jump, and Forbes is seeded fifth, closer to a pack behind her than the conference leaders. Siuciak is the only Bull, seeded fourth, in the High Jump, but really anything could happen there. In the Triple Jump, UB again has only one entrant in Forbes, and her seed is pretty middle-of-the-pack. Both Truppo and Taylor Bates will compete in the Pole Vault, and Truppo will be right on the edge of the top eight if everyone matches their best.
UB has no one in the Hammer, and with just Borini in the Javelin are unlikely to score there, either. Joanna Hallisy and McKenzie Kuehlewind are both in the Shot Put, but would need big throws to earn points, as there's a dozen competitors above 14.00 meters. The Discus is UB's best shot for points in the throws; Miranda Daucher is seeded fourth and Taylor Woods seventh. Both should finish top-eight.
Ryan Billian and Darien Johnson could each hit the podium in the 100m dash. Billian actually has the second-fastest seed time, though the .12s separating him and Kent's Wayne Gordon is nearly the same as the .13s that separates Billian and Johnson, who is seeded ninth. Anything can happen. In the 200 it's Billian and Jalen Law. Billian is in a cluster around the fourth seed time, while Law is around the edge of the finals.
Jake Wray and Mike Morgan rep UB in the 110 hurdles. Wray has the third-fastest seed time, though no one is beating Kent's William Barnes, and Wray is closer to sixth than second. Morgan is on the edge of the finals. In the 400 hurdles, Treyvon Mask and Mitch Moore are both on the edge of the finals and could earn some depth points for UB.
Finally for the individual sprints, Josh Gali's your guy in the 400. Hopefully he can sneak into the final. UB's stronger in the 4x100 than in the 4x400, but are unlikely to win either event. Perhaps in the 4x100 they can finish third, while in the 4x400 it's likely fifth or sixth.
800. 800s are so fun. UB has three entrants here, and Brian Crimmins and Tyler Scheving are the #2 and #3 seeds in the event. Thomas Meehan may be able to finish top-eight. Crimmins is UB's lone guy in the 1600, but he should be in a three-way dogfight for second after Akron's Clayton Murphy runs away from everyone.
In the longer stuff, John McCarthy, Derek Palafox, and Austin Coneys are all seeded between sixth and ninth in the steeplechase and Zach Ahart, Cameron Bruce, and Barrett Kemp in seventh to tenth in the 5000. McCarthy and Ahart *could* get in the top five in their respective events. Kemp and Ahart will also run in the 10000, but so many competitors don't have entry times it's impossible to predict. Eastern Michigan will dominate all three of these events.
Mike Morgan is doing everyone a favor and not competing in the Decathlon. Everyone involved knows that he would win if he did.
Ryan Billian is the reigning
MAC Champion CORRECTION: runner-up and All-American in the Long Jump, but he's only seeded seventh while Austin Ashby is third. Each should earn points, and Morgan is also competing here. Ashby is also in the Triple Jump, but Kaishaun Cathey (seeded fourth) and Austin Price (second) are UB's frontrunners there.
Morgan and Adam Hume could both finish top-five in the Pole Vault, but no one is going to even come close to Akrons Shawn Barber, who's the NCAA Indoor and Canadian Record Holder and the current World Leader in the event. In the High Jump, Morgan and Laurent Dure are two of the four contenders with jumps of 2.08 meters or higher, so UB should pick up big points there.
Sean Harvey is the only Bull in the Hammer, and that's not going to go very well. Armis Mehmetaj is closer to the middle of the pack in the Javelin, but probably won't move up much. Jon Jones and Ryan Cribbin are in a group fighting for sixth in the Discus, and Devon Patterson is also competing there.
But the story is the Shot Put.
Jon Jones will win the shot put. There's more distance between Jones and the second seed than there is between the second seed and the last seed. There is somewhere a hook, and that is off it.
Devon Patterson is the aforementioned second seed, so that's pretty swell. He'll likely finish no lower than third, and Cribbin could get up to fifth or sixth.
The Championships are already under way. You can find the whole schedule here, and theoretically the results here, but it's a pretty clunky page, to be honest. Follow us and @UB_XCTF on Twitter, and I'll have nightly recap posts as well.