Track and field finishes 10th in MAC championships

By Ed Rietveld

The indoor portion of the MAC track and field season concluded this weekend with the conference championships.

NIU finished 10th out of 12 teams with 16 points. Kent State dominated, finishing first with 175 points, while the host, the Eagles of Eastern Michigan, finished second with 94 points. Western Michigan finished third with 73 points.

The top-finishing Huskie was senior sprinter Janay Mitchell, who finished second in the 60 meters despite running a career-best 7.52 in the final heat. Mitchell came up six one hundredths of a second short, finishing behind Kent State’s Katie Reiser.

Mitchell, who entered the final as the No. 1 seed after running the fastest time in the prelims of 7.53, said her start put her behind the eight ball in the finals.

“It felt pretty good,” Mitchell said. “I mean, she just had a better start than me this time, but getting second felt really good…just because I was injured [for] so long before the meet. This is my third meet back at the championships. So I think I executed everything pretty well in my race.”

Fellow senior sprinter Megan Gregory earned three points for her team, finishing sixth place out of eight in the 60-meter hurdles. She had a time of 8.67.

After a personal-best run of 2:12.86 in the prelims, which qualified her for third for the finals, sophomore Jamie Burr finished sixth out of eight in the 800 meters with a run of 2:14.88.

Burr said the pace of the final made it hard on her and she was happy to earn three points.

“The race just went out so slow and it was just kind of a weird race; tactically…it wouldn’t of made sense for me to really go any faster in the race until it started really moving,” Burr said. “But, I mean, as a sophomore…I’m happy with getting sixth, placing and scoring points for the team.”

The Huskies’ other two points were earned by both of their relay teams. Friday, NIU earned its only point on the day when the team of freshman Ali Olson, junior Julianne Cronin, Burr and sophomore Meghan Heuer finished eighth out of 12 in the distance medley relay with a run 12:04.27.

Saturday, NIU’s 4×400 scored the Huskies’ last point of the meet with another eighth-place out of 11 finnish. Junior Alexandra Rowe, senior Jenelle McCalla, senior Kristal Pitts and Cronin clocked in with a season-best time of 3:53.97.

Head coach Connie Teaberry said she thinks being on a relay team is special because the players are not just running for themselves, they are running for their teammates.

“I believe when you put four athletes together for some reason it heightens the level of urgency,” Teaberry said. “You know you have two more, three more ladies depending on you in the relays. So the girls seem to put forth their best efforts when they get on those relays and this time it just happened to lead to points that we needed.”

Teaberry said there are some things her team needs to change as it heads into the outdoor season.

“Our mental aspects need to improve a little bit more,” Teaberry said. “We need to do some physical fine-tuning [by] getting our bodies a little bit ready for tougher competition, and we just need to continue to execute. Execute…in every race, putting it all out there…, fighting to the bitter end, having confidence in the middle of our races, in the middle of our jumps, in the middle of our throws, just knowing that we can perform at the highest level.”