After months of preparation, the track and field teams will compete this weekend at the Indoor Mid-American Conference championships in Ypsilanti.
The best the MAC has to offer will be running, throwing and jumping against one another for a chance to qualify for regionals and take home the MAC championship trophy today and Saturday.
It was on the men’s side, in 2005, the last time a CMU team brought home the MAC Indoor Track and Field Championship. The women did it a year earlier.
“We want this very badly,” said sophomore Kyle Stacks. “We keep looking up at the banners in the track bay, and we see all of these years, and we’re not anywhere near them. We would definitely love to see our year up there.”
The men are certainly looking like a top contender in the meet, with 13 athletes ranked in the top 10 in their respective events.
A majority of these competitors are underclassmen who have been developing quickly over the course of the season, several of whom are competing in multiple events.
This depth in the roster will allow director of track and field Willie Randolph more chances to put together the most lucrative lineup. In all, the men will send 24 athletes to the MAC Championships.
“We always tell our athletes this: Numbers don’t mean anything right now; it’s what you do at the conference championships that matters,” Randolph said. “We have a lot of people who are going to try to help, but, at the same time, having more then one event per person to score in, that’s the difference.”
Sophomore distance duo of Stacks and Ethan Lievense are both competing in three events to be point-scorers for their team. They will be running in the mile, 3000m run and 5000m run, of which they are ranked in the top five.
“I know that I have a chance to score really highly in all my races,” Lievense said. “So, I’m going to take each one really seriously and try to score as many points for my team as possible.”
For the women, distance running is also a strength with a veteran duo of Maddie Ribant and Charnele Lyons.
Lyons, having qualified in the mile run, the 5000m and the DMR relay, is looking to fair well against her opponents, despite tough MAC competition.
“There’s some big names in the MAC right now and there’s some really good marks that people have met,” Lyons said. “But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to back down to anyone.”
Ribant also qualified for the 5000m run, as well as the 3000m run, and she believes she is prepared to in multiple events.
“Resting up this week in order to mentally prepare for the MACs has been very important for me,” Ribant said. “Our workouts have been gearing us toward fine tuning, because we aren’t going to gain or lose anything this week.”
Randolph said the team’s overall energy has been very focused this week in practice but also somewhat calmer compared to previous practices.
“(Our) energy has been very calm and focused,” Randolph said. “We’re just ready to get things going this weekend.”
The Chippewas will look to stick to the same game plan that has been instituted by Randolph all season. For CMU, this is the only way it will be able to compete at the conference championship level.
“If you don’t execute your plan when the championship day happens, the championship piece is not going to happen,” Randolph said.