Zips top Northeast Ohio teams and sweep season's first home meet

“The University of Akron track and field team hosted the Northeast Ohio Quad Saturday at Lee Jackson Field. Kent State, Youngstown State and Ashland returned to Akron as the main competition, but inclement weather became the biggest factor on a day that saw the Zips move from outdoors to inside the Athletics Field House.”

The University of Akron track and field team hosted the Northeast Ohio Quad Saturday at Lee Jackson Field.

Kent State, Youngstown State and Ashland returned to Akron as the main competition, but inclement weather became the biggest factor on a day that saw the Zips move from outdoors to inside the Athletics Field House.

Sprints, jumps and relays moved into the field house while throwing events, the men’s 400-meter hurdles, and most races 800-meter and above braved the cold and rainy weather outdoors.

Cold, wet weather makes it tough to get the quality performances you would like and you risk injury, said head coach Dennis Mitchell.

For the second straight week, the weather took its toll on Zips athletes, but in the first home meet of the year, Akron swept the meet, winning both the men’s and women’s titles.

The women’s 256-point first-place finish was anchored by strong performances from Stevi Large, Corinne Gavin-Hall, Natalie Sako and Carrie Kayes.

Throwing coach Brian Forrester said that a thrower must be physically, mentally and technically prepared in order to succeed.

Large was firing on all cylinders.

In her first outdoor discus competition of the year, Large threw a personal best, surpassing her old record by 13 feet and missing regional qualifying standards by one foot. She also placed first in the shot put and hammer throw.

Inside the field house, Gavin-Hall ran to three first-place finishes in the 100 and 200 individual, and 4×100 relay.

The transition to indoors meant that a regional qualifying mark met by any athlete competing inside would not be count for that meet, a rule that Coach Mitchell feels should be changed.

Some seasons like this, there are only a few windows of opportunity when the weather gets bad, said Mitchell, The southern schools have a strong advantage. It forces us to go south when it would be nicer to compete more often in front of our fans.

For Sako and Kayes, it meant that their top performances of the 2007 season would count only toward Akron’s point total.

Sako cleared 6-0 in the high jump, equaling her personal best and earning her a first-place finish.

In the pole vault, Kayes had a season-best performance vaulting 12-6, a mark that would have met regional qualifying standards if outdoors.

Kayes first place vault was matched by teammate Crystal Goldsmith who also vaulted 12-6 and earned second place.

The men swept numerous events indoors throughout the day, en route to a 228-point first-place victory.

Cadeau Kelley finished first in the long jump and triple jump while Howard Harris sprinted to first place finishes in the 100 and 200.

Outside, David Howard, Jason Headman and Clayton Watson finished first, second and third, respectively, in the 3000-meter run with Howard’s 8:37.34 besting a field of 11 runners.

Between the men’s and women’s teams, the Zips had 63 top-three finishers and 24 first-place winners.

While bad weather seems to be following the Zips lately, it has not slowed down the success of the track and field team.

We are very fortunate to have a facility where we can go indoors like we did, said Mitchell.

The Zips will travel to Cincinnati for the All-Ohio Championships Friday and Saturday for a battle of Ohio track supremacy.