Sophomore Ben Wynsma scores big at MAC championships

Sophomore distance runner Ben Wynsma scored 14 points for the men's track and field team at this weekend's Mid-American Conference championships.

Wynsma ran in two events, placing in the top three for both. He took third in the mile run and was a part of the second-place finishing men's distance medley relay.

"It felt really great. Those are my first two medals from the MAC meet," Wynsma said. "With the championship atmosphere, it feels so much better when you compete well."

In the mile run, Wynsma's score earned his first trip to the podium after a third-place finish in the mile. He ended with a time of 4:13.06 to score six points.

He was ranked fourth in the mile before the competition and wasn't expecting to break the top three going into the meet.

Wynsma said he was just trying to do the best he could for his team, regardless of where he ended up.

Eastern Michigan was the team to beat in the mile. EMU senior Terefe Ejigu and junior Grzegorz Kalinowski were ranked first and second before the race, and Wynsma said he knew they would be a force in the event.

Strategically, distance races are run much differently at the MAC championships than a normal meet. Athletes competing are usually participating in multiple events, which results in the pack running the first few laps at a slower pace before turning up to a full speed sprint in the final lap.

This allowed Wynsma to stay close to the leaders throughout the race before exploding in the final meters. Grzegorz and Ejigu lived up to their reputation, taking first and second respectively. Wynsma was only about a second off from Ejigu, who ran a 4:12.02.

"The way it went out, everyone was together for the race; at that point, when everyone went, I was just trying to be the fastest and hold on," Wynsma said.

Wynsma also earned points with a combined effort given by the men's distance medley relay consisted of  senior Nate Sanchez and sophomores Anderson Lee and junior Clay Holman.

Freshman Ziemowit Dutkiewicz was supposed to compete in the event; however, because of an undisclosed issue, Holman replaced him in the event. Together, they scored eight points, finishing with a time of 10:03.45.

The Chippewas once again found themselves behind the Eagles in the relay. The host team finished in 9:57.37, a solid six seconds faster than CMU. The relay team was able to hold off Akron and finish second.

"When I got the baton, we were in second," Wynsma said. "Really, I was just trying to put some distance on the guy behind me and do what I could do. Eastern (Michigan) was a good distance ahead of us, and we didn't gain much ground on them."

Central Michigan finished fifth overall in the meet with 39 points, falling to Eastern, who scored 157.5 points.


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