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(Mt. Pleasant, Mich.) In the first meet of the new year, coming off a week of two-a-day practices, the CU T&F Men competed well at the Central Michigan University Chippewa Open winning two events and placing well in six others.
The meet started with two hours of field events. Logan Norton placed fourth in the pole vault, clearing 14' while Bryant Landon took fifth in the 35 pound weight throw with a mark of 52' 2.75".
In the sprints, Eric Schroeder advanced to the finals in the 60 meter dash by taking eighth in the semi-finals in 7.20. His PR of 7.16 tied him for seventh in the finals. Ryan Versen and Zach Yeo waged a great battle with CMU's Clinton Cargill in the 400 meters with Versen prevailing in 51.00 with Yeo third in 51.51.
A very exciting event of the meet had to be the kid's 200 meter fun run. A dozen children from three to eight years old assembled on the starting line to race one lap around the track before the collegiate 800 meter run. With enthusiastic support from the near capacity crowd they sprinted, jogged and meandered in and out of the lanes of the oval. The first two boys came through nearly side by side. Others followed at various speeds and levels of motivation. One little guy gave chase as an girl passed him with 40 meters to go, got tangled in his own feet and tumbled to the track. His expression didn't change as he scrambled back up and continued his pursuit.
As the last few came in the applause rose and fell with the gaps between runners then dropped off as it appeared everyone was done. Then, around the final turn came Central Michigan University's Head Coach and Director or Cross Country and Track & Field, Willie Randolph, shuffling sideways, leaning over giving step by step encouragement to one more little girl. She wore a pleased, but unhurried look on her as she walked along. The noise from the spectators resumed in a crescendo with each step and the girl responded by breaking into a trot. Athletes on the infield rushed to the edge of the track, adding their cheers and encouragement. In the final meters a little boy dashed back from the finish line, came alongside the girl, running next to her with his hand on her back to help with the pace. The poignant act of pure sportsmanship resulted in smiles and louder cheers and a reminder of what makes Track & Field such a great sport. Click here to watch this exciting race.
As is often the case, the most exciting event was the 4 x 400 meter relay. The race quickly formed into t a three-team match between the host from CMU, Cornerstone and Aquinas. Schroeder lead off and worked his way to a one-step lead before passing to Spencer Perry. Both CMU and Aquinas got around him by the next exchange and Ryan Versen put the Golden Eagles almost even as the three anchor legs sorted out the last two laps. Zach Yeo ran aggressively, but patient through 200 meters. With the crowd standing to get the best view, the PA announcer trying to be heard and all three teams' athletes lining the inside edge for the track, the senior from Cedar Springs shot by Aquinas on the backstretch and pulled even with the Chippewa's Ross Parsons in the last turn. Parsons drifted just wide enough for Yeo to shoot through on the inside and on to the homestretch. Feeding off the noise, Zach opened a one second gap hitting the finish in 3:26.61 to Central's 3:27.61. Aquinas faded to 3:29.17.
"Our guys raced very well tonight," said CU Director of Track & Field, Rod Wortley. "This isn't the part of the season were we see fast time, but we put ourselves in situations to compete and ultimately Track about making the effort to beat the person next to you."
The Golden Eagles next compete at Grand Valley State University on January 18.