The Zips' men squad has won five of the last six indoor team titles and nine of the last 12 MAC championships overall, and will be looking to capture their fourth consecutive indoor title. On the women's side, the Zips are seeking their sixth indoor championship and first since 2009. Akron narrowly missed earning the crown last year falling one point shy of eventual champion Eastern Michigan. The Zips' men's and women's squad own No. 34 and No. 36 national rankings, respectively, in the latest United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) NCAA Division I National Team Computer Rankings released on Monday, Feb. 20. The men have five student-athletes seeking to repeat as conference champions this season led by senior Matt Rowland (Bellevue, Ohio), who captured the men's pole vault title eclipsing 17-0.75 (5.20m). In the women's field, senior Ariadna Ramos Gandia (Barcelona, Spain), junior Jackie Siefring (Covington, Ohio) and senior Natalie Zidd (Hinckley, Ohio) are the defending champions in the triple jump (42-3.25/12.88m), pentathlon (4,215) and 800 meters (2:07.89), respectively.
Ball State Cardinals
In the fifth season of automatic qualifying standards, the Cardinals will send 12 student-athletes and a pair of relays to Ypsilanti for the meet. Under the current format, each event is capped at 20 participants. This season, four Cardinals achieved MAC automatic qualifying marks for the indoor championships, led by sophomore Peyton Stewart (Indianapolis, Ind./Lawrence North) who enters as the second seed in the 60m dash with a career-fast time of 7.52 set at the Chipotle Marshall Invitational (Feb. 10). The effort is the fastest for a Ball State sprinter in the event since Amber Williams won the 60m dash at the 2009 MAC Indoor Track & Field Championships with a time of 7.44. In her first appearance at the MAC Indoor Championships last season, Stewart placed fourth in the 60m dash with a then-career best time of 7.56.
Bowling Green Falcons
Bowling Green gets things underway at the MAC Championships with an important event early Friday. The Falcons have three of the top six seeds in the shot put, which begins at 10 am. The pentathlon also begins at 10 am with newcomers Chasatea Brown and BeJai Fray both expected to be in contention for a spot on the podium. Dorresha Green is the No. 1 seed in the 60 with a qualifying time of 7.50 seconds this year. Jeanette Pettigrew is the only Falcon to ever win the MAC Championship in the event, doing so in 2014 with a time of 7.53 seconds at the MAC Championships. Aliyah Gustafson currently ranks 25th nationally in the shot put, while teammate Makenzie Wheat is just one spot behind in 26th. The top 16 will advance to the NCAA Indoor Track and Field National Championships March 10-11 in College Station, Texas. Listed below are the six Falcons ranked among the top 100 nationally in an event.
The Bulls have seen a lot of success throughout the season, most notably in the recent regional rankings. Both the men and the women have reached their highest regional ranking in program history, both second in the Northeast Region. The rankings come after numerous successful weekends for the Bulls. Most recently, Christine Lyttle found her way into the regional rankings after clocking in at 8.48 in the 60HH; Lyttle ranks fifth in the Northeast Region and second in the Mid-American Conference. Emma Siuciak and Mikayla Pearce also rank regionally for the Bulls. Siuciak holds a first place regionally ranking in the pentathlon, while Pearce ranks second in the long jump. The men remain ranked second for the second week in a row. Joshua Gali remains ranked regionally at first in the 400m, second in the 200m, and second as a member of the 4X400 with teammates Gyasi Morris, Craig Kaiser, and Mitchell Moore. Ryan Cribbin ranks regionally at first in the shot put, with teammate Devon Patterson ranking second. Kaishaun Cathey remains ranked second in the triple jump.
Central Michigan Chippewas
Perhaps the biggest star for Central Michigan, is senior Dylan Banagis. The Grand Rapids native will compete at the MAC Indoor meet for the fourth time in his career. His weight throw finishes have improved each season, finishing ninth as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore, and third as a junior. CMU sophomore Samantha Cuneo will compete in the women’s 400-meter run and has an excellent chance at a high finish as the top seed holder. The Belmont, Mich. native ran the 400 in 54.79 seconds at the Notre Dame Meyo Invitational on Feb. 4 and set an indoor personal best in the process. Undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the CMU indoor season has been the performance of newcomer Nadia Williams. The freshman from Mount Horeb, Wis. has had no trouble adjusting to collegiate competition and is qualified for the women’s 60-meter dash and the women’s long jump. She is the only Chippewa to have qualified in multiple events, and will also compete as an at-large entrant in the 200-meter dash. The other CMU qualifiers: Ben Hayes (men’s 400m), Kelsey Ross (women’s 800m), Megan O’Neil (women’s mile), Melvin Harris (men’s high jump), Calli Stemple (women’s high jump), Jake Peister (men’s triple jump), Ja’La Taylor (women’s triple jump) and Kylee Dobbelaere (women’s weight throw). Thirty-nine Chippewa entrants will partake as at-large competitors in various events.
Eastern Michigan Men
The Eagles look to win their first indoor title since 2013, which coincidentally also happened at home in Ypsilanti. With the regular season now complete, Eastern finished with three student-athletes ranked in the top-50 of their respective events according to the NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying List from the Track & Field Results Reporting System (TFRRS). Fink paces the squad, holding onto two of those three spots for EMU. Redshirt senior Willy Fink maintains No. 19 in the 3000m based on his time of 7:57.11 from the Husky Classic, Feb. 10, in addition to No. 37 in the 5000m from the season-opening Hoosier Open, Dec. 9. Finally, sophomore Cameron Hart (Columbus, Ohio - Bishop Hartley) sits at No. 36 in the high jump after notching an impressive jump of 2.14 meters/ 7 feet 0.25-inches at the EMU Triangular, Jan. 28. Last season at the MAC Indoor Championships, the Eagles finished second as a team, amassing a total of 135 points. Senior Tyler Brown was named the Most Valuable Performer, winning both the 400m dash and the long jump, in addition to claiming silver in the 200m dash. Fink brought home a pair of event titles as well, taking top honors in the 3000m and 5000m runs.
Eastern Michigan Women
After winning the conference championship last season, the Eagles look to defend their title at home to secure the second leg of the triple crown. With the regular season now complete, the Eagles have a strong total of five individuals ranked in the top-50 of six different events in the NCAA Division I Indoor Qualifying List according to the Track & Field Results Reporting System (TFRRS). Beginning in the 800m, junior Natalie Cizmas holds the No. 47 spot, while she also sits at No. 49 in the mile. In the 3000m, Jordann McDermitt and Alsu Bogdanova each hold top-25 spots, as McDermitt ranks No. 19 while Bogdanova is No. 25. EMU also has three runners in the top-50 of the 5000m, as McDermitt still holds an impressive No. 4 ranking. Additionally, Cizmas comes in at No. 33, while Bogdanova holds on to No. 50. Moving to field events, senior Janina Pollatz (Grandville, Mich. - Grand Rapids Christian) sits at No. 37 in the pole vault, while Dreimane holds the No. 40 spot in the triple jump. At last year's MAC Championships, the Eagles secured their fifth title in program history with a total of 127 points, edging out Akron by just one point.
Kent State Golden Flashes
At last year's MAC Championships, hosted by the Akron, Kent State's men's and women's programs each came away with third place finishes. Heading into the MAC Championships, four Golden Flashes currently lead the conference in their respected events. Danniel Thomas' record in the shot put of 60' 1.25" leads the MAC by nearly four feet and currently ranks second in the nation. Reggie Jager leads the MAC and sits at 17th in the country with his PR of 69' 8.25" in the weight throw. Gabrielle Figueroa is out in front of conference standings in the weight throw with a season-best mark of 19.88m (65' 2.75") which came at EMU's Bowen Fieldhouse earlier this season. TJ Lawson's school record in the heptathlon of 5,666 points leads the MAC and ranks 13th in the nation. Kent State currently holds the top three heptathlon scores in the conference as Ryan Looser ranks second (5,287 points) and Mitchell Kubicki ranks third (4,853 points).
The ‘Hawks took ninth place at last year’s Championships, and were picked to finish in the same spot this year. However, after seeing three Miami all-time records broken and numerous athletes coming close to doing the same, the Red and White are looking to make some noise and close out an exciting indoor season on a strong note. Senior Alexus Jimson-Miller will run in the 60m hurdles, an event she has won four times this season. Her 8.40 broke a Miami record and is better than any MAC competitor has put up this season. Representing the long distance group will be senior Maria Scavuzzo and freshman Carly Davis, both of whom will run the 3000m and 5000m. Scavuzzo ranks third and fifth in the MAC for the 3000m and 5000m, respectively. Davis is in the top-20 for both events as well.
Northern Illinois Huskies
Four NIU records have been set this seasons between seniors Hope Schmelzle (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton Warrenville South) and Alison Olson (New Auburn, Wis./Bloomer) and sophomore Jehvania Whyte (Kingston, Jamaica/Vere Technical). Schmelzle has improved two records she set during her junior season in the 800-meter (2:08.67) and mile (4:39.82) races, while Olson now holds the 1,000-meter race record (2:53.20) and Whyte holds the triple jump record (11.92 meters, 39-01.25). "These ladies are just a few that we expect to make magic on the track this weekend. They cannot accomplish the team's goal alone. We have seven other events that the athletes qualified for automatically that we are expecting to produce results..." said NIU head coach Connie Teaberry.
The Bobcats heads to the MAC Championships coming off a very successful Buckeye Invitational (Feb. 17) hosted by Ohio State where the Bobcats totaled 10 top-five finishes. Several Bobcats also recorded personal-bests including sophomore Gaza Odunaiya in the weight throw (18.24m), which is now sixth-best in the MAC and third all-time program history, and sophomore Emily Deering in the 600-meter run (1:35.01), which broke the 28-year old school record. Senior Olivia Mayfield (Beachwood, Ohio) finished first for the Bobcats in the 60-meter dash with a preliminary time of 7.92 to place 11th.
UT will look towards a strong distance group to lead the team. Maja Pacaric and Petronela Simiuc will both compete in the 800-meter run and the mile with Athena Welsh also set for the mile. Welsh will double up and run the 3000m with Joan Jepkirui and Caroline Lambert. Jepkirui and Lambert, along with Stephanie Barlow, will compete in the 5000m as well. The jumps will also need to perform well for the Rockets to rank near the top of the conference. Alexa Jarrett (pole vault), Madeline Pacella (high jump), Ty'Shai Freeman (triple jump) and Madison Pierce (long jump) will all look to score points in their respective events.
Western Michigan Broncos
The Broncos return four student-athletes that scored points and won events at the 2016 Indoor MAC Championships. Junior Ayiana Gaines will defend her title in the 400-meter dash, a race that she has not lost at any of the four indoor and outdoor MAC Championships that she has competed at so far in her career. Senior sprinter Sarita Dotson also returns to defend her 200-meter dash crown. The two of them, in addition to Naiomi Dulaney also set to defend the 4x400-meter relay title with Lindsey Hufnagel joining the squad. Overall, Western Michigan will have athletes competing in 16 events.