It's hard to be disappointed when a team makes history, but the men's track team came close.
The Zips held a strangle hold on the MAC Championship heading into the final event, the 4 x 400 relay.
All Akron needed was a second-place finish in the event to clinch the title. They took third, allowing Eastern Michigan sneak to the top of the podium by one point.
"The 4 x 400 was as exciting as a sporting event could go," coach Dennis Mitchell said. "We were very confident with our team. Going down the last home stretch it looked like we would at least get Kent and win the meet. However, Kent's anchor leg came alive just to edge our top 400 runner James Howell at the line."
It really wasn't a choke job by the Zips either. The top three relay teams, including Akron's, qualified for NCAA Regionals with their times in the finals. Akron even set a new school record.
"Unfortunately, it was not enough," Mitchell said. "This is an extremely hard one to swallow."
In the end, Kent State played spoiler by taking second in the 4 x 400. The top three total scores were EMU (182 points), Akron (181) and Kent State (178).
Mitchell, of course, wasn't completely dismayed. His women easily took first, their fifth MAC Championship in six track seasons (indoor and outdoor). And if you combine men's and women's scores, the Zips blew out the second-place school Kent State, 335 to 218.
"I would have wanted, for anything, to put both teams on the awards podium," Mitchell said. "It is a wild thing being a coach of both men and women at the same time. (EMU has separate men's and women's staffs). Unless you win both, you always feel like you have lost in some way."
Fellow coaches did not think Mitchell lost at all. They named him Women's Coach of the Year. His star thrower Stevi Large was Women's Field Athlete of the Year.
"It is a big roller coaster ride -- three days, all day of super intensity," the coach said. "It is amazing, with the heat, people were not collapsing right and left. Instead there were great performances after great performances."
The season is not complete. Twenty-three athletes will head to NCAA Regionals at Colombia, Mo., for a combined 48 events. They are...
Auston Papay - discus and shot put 2.
Ray Weisenbarger - discus and shot put 3.
Randall Hafner - discus, shot put and hammer 4.
Ryan Jones - high jump 5.
Cadeau Kelley - long Jump and triple jump 6.
Howard Harris - 200, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 7.
Anthony Thomas - 200 and 4 x 100 8.
James Manley - 4 x 100 9.
James Howell - 400, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 10.
Mike Meditz - 400 hurdles/4 x 400 11.
Marcus Jones - 4 x 400 12.
Stevi Large - hammer/discus/shot put 13.
Jessica Miller - pole vault 14.
Crystal Goldsmith - pole vault 15.
Carrie Kayes - pole vault 16.
Jennifer Peck - pole vault 17.
Natalie Sako - high jump 18.
Lisa Ravn - high jump 19.
Corine Gavin-Hall - 100 and 200 20.
Larisa Arcip - 800/1500 21.
Rachel Zubricky - 1500 22.
Jessica Bright - 100 hurdles 23.
Amy Lavalley - hammer
The team will have two weeks to prepare for Regionals. The meet starts May 25. The Zips who qualify for Nationals would have another two weeks off before heading to Sacramento on June 6.
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