The host Kent State women's track team earned its third consecutive title at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday with 127.5 points, 29 ahead of runner-up Akron.
"We are unbelievably proud of the team," said KSU Director of Track and Field Bill Lawson, who was named the 2014 MAC Women's Coach of the Year. "These ladies always do what they do, they come together and rally to get the job done."
The Golden Flashes men's squad (132) finished a narrow second to the Zips (140) at the KSU Field House.
On the final day of competition Saturday, three KSU women's squad members won events. Ann Marie Duffus was crowned champion in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.40, Dior Delophont won the high jump with a mark of 5-10, and Danniel Thomas captured the shot put with a personal-best toss of 54-2. Joh'Vonnie Mosley finished third (51.6.5), followed by Jackie Leppelmeier in fourth (50-4.5).
Delophont also took second place in the triple jump with a leap of 41-10.5, followed by teammate Roseanne Erickson (39-7.75).
Duffus added a second-place effort in the long jump (19-11.75) and a third-place finish in the 60 meters (personal-best 7.56).
Lauren Burnett added a fifth-place showing in the 800 (2:10.77) along with the 4x400-meter relay team of Jorian Ordway, Kaila Gardner, Erica Hutson and Taylor Farquhar (3:46.13).
On the men's side, Wayne Gordon broke a 14-year-old school record to win the 200 meters with a time of 20.74, which was named the meet's Most Outstanding Track Performance.
Michael King broke the KSU shot put record with a heave of 61-4.75, good for second place.
Riak Reese took first in the 60 meters with a time of 6.73, followed by Gordon (6.77). Reese also placed second in the 200 meters (21.28), while William Barnes was fourth (21.50).
Miles Dunlap ran a personal-best 47.31 in the 400 meters to finish second, with Laron Brown taking third (47.58).
Barnes was also second in the 60-meter hurdles in a personal-best 7.75, the second-best time in KSU history, while teammate Kyle Tywon finished fifth (8.14). Tywon added a second-place effort in the heptathlon with 5,478 points.
Donovan Tolbert (49-0.25) and Jailyn Twitty (48-8.25) were second and third, respectively, in the triple jump, while Marteze Roper placed fourth in the 800 meters (1:51.21). In the final event, the KSU 4x400-meter relay team of Dunlap, Andrew O'Leary, Matthew Tobin and Laron Brown finished third in 3:11.47.
Last week junior Ann Marie Duffus was named the MAC Women's Track Athlete of the Week. She ran the fifth-best 60 meters time in Kent State indoor track history Feb. 22 at the Kent State Tune Up, winning in 7.57 seconds.
Sophomore William Barnes was chosen MAC Men's Track Athlete of the Week after setting the Kent State Field House facility record in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.83, good for first place at the Kent State Tune Up.
Kent State (7-3) held off host Middle Tennessee State (4-6) late in the game on Sunday to take the rubber match of the weekend series 6-5.
The Flashes scored at least one run in the first three opening frames. Zarley Zalewski each ripped RBI doubles, and Zach Beckner added a run-scoring single to give KSU a 4-0 lead in the third.
After Middle Tennessee State cut the lead to 4-3, T.J. Sutton singled to drive in a run in the seventh for Kent State.
With the score 6-3 in the eighth, the Blue Raiders scored two runs and had a chance for more but Flashes reliever Michael Clark recorded a three-pitch strikeout to end the inning.
Freshman Andy Ravel (1-0) came in relief of starter John Birkbeck to earn his first collegiate win. He went 3.2 innings, allowing two hits and one earned run and three strikeouts. Clark earned his first save in 1.2 innings of work, allowing one hit and two walks with one strikeout.
Sutton led the offensive charge with three hits, while Tommy Monnot and Beckner both finished 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Kent State hung on to earn a 5-4 victory on Saturday. The Flashes led 5-1 in the fourth inning, but the Blue Raiders put the tying run on second in the eighth before the rally fizzled.
Freshman Eric Lauer earned his third win in as many appearances. He went five innings in the start, allowing five hits, one walk and one earned run with four strikeouts. Eric Dorsch pitched the final two innings to earn his second save.
Jon Wilson went 3-for-5 with a stolen base and two runs scored, while Alex Miklos picked up two of the team's RBI.
Kent State led the opener 2-0 early, but it slipped away as Middle Tennessee State wound up earning a 12-4 victory on Friday.
An RBI double in the sixth by Zalewski tied the game 4-4, but the home team posted a five-run sixth to take control.
Starting pitcher Brian Clark (Stow) slipped to 1-2 after allowing six runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings, walking three and striking out a pair. Dan Kopcak (Streetsboro) struggled in relief, allowing three runs while retiring just two batters.
Zalewski went 3-for-4 on the day with a double and two RBI, while Miklos and Cody Koch both doubled.
Miklos was named MAC East Division Player of the Week, while Lauer was chosen Co-Pitcher of the Week last week.
Miklos batted .412 through a four-game sweep in the Coca-Cola Classic. The junior posted a .588 slugging percentage thanks in a large part to three doubles in Saturday's game against Winthrop, and also stole a pair of bases on the weekend.
Lauer earned the honor for the second straight week. He did not allow a hit in five innings against Coppin State, throwing just 68 pitches with three strikeouts and one walk to earn his second win in as many appearances as a freshman. Lauer was a part of a pitching staff that posted a miniscule 1.71 ERA through 42 innings of work in four games of the Coca-Cola Classic.
Five different players homered as the Flashes won both of their games at the James Madison Invitational on Saturday, opening with a 9-1 victory over Penn State then edging James Madison 4-3.
"Those are two meaningful wins for us," said KSU coach Karen Linder. "It's always good to beat a Big Ten opponent, and James Madison was in the NCAA Tournament last year. We had great offensive production today. It's always great for pitchers when the offense scores early, and we did that in both games."
Kent State entered with three home runs in its first 10 games, but matched that total in each game on Saturday.
Solo home runs by freshman Maddy Grimm, junior Kim Kirkpatrick and sophomore Shelbi Tilton gave the Flashes a 3-1 lead over Penn State through four innings. Kent State then broke it open by scoring six runs in the fifth, as Grimm delivered a two-run single.
Senior Lauren McNeil (1-1) went the distance, allowing just one run on four hits with two strikeouts in five innings.
Grimm belted her second first-inning home run of the day against James Madison, but this time with a runner on base.
Senior Abbey Ledford and sophomore Michele Duffy then hit back-to-back homers to lead off the top of the fifth and give the Flashes a three-run lead.
Junior ace Emma Johnson (5-2) threw 5.1 innings to earn the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits. Freshman Ronnie Ladines shut the Dukes down over the final 1.2 innings for the first save of her collegiate career.
Grimm and Dani Ramos both collected three hits on the day. Grimm drove in five runs and scored three times.
Johnson was named MAC East Division co-Pitcher of the Week after going 2-1 with a 1.11 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 19 innings against a pair of national powers at the FAU Invitational last weekend.
Johnson threw a one-hit shutout against No. 5 Kentucky, which entered the contest unbeaten. She recorded a season-best 10 strikeouts against a team that entered the weekend with a .304 team batting average. Kentucky is the highest-ranked team the Flashes have defeated during the 18-year tenure of head coach Karen Linder.
Johnson followed with another dominant performance against Pittsburgh on Sunday, striking out nine and allowing just three hits in a 6-1 victory.
In her first start of the weekend, Johnson had three strikeouts in five innings against No. 7 Michigan, allowing just two earned runs to a Wolverines lineup that was hitting .352 entering the weekend.
Kent State (8-3) fell to No. 8 Michigan (197.200) and Brigham Young (195.325), scoring 194.275 points in Ann Arbor on Friday.
Marie Case took fourth in the all-around with a total of 38.925, as she tied for second on the balance beam (9.825). Amiah Mims took fourth on vault (9.850) and fifth on floor exercise (9.875).
The Flashes return to home Thursday to take on Bowling Green.
Kent State sophomore Ian Miller was named MAC Wrestler of the Week after earning a pair of dual meet victories over Top 20 opponents on Feb. 21 at the M.A.C. Center.
Miller scored four takedowns in a 10-4 victory over Edinboro's Johnny Greisheimer, who is No. 15 in this week's InterMat poll. Miller also topped No. 18 Joey Lavallee of Missouri, 3-2.
After missing three dual meets with an injury, Miller has won four straight matches, improving to 24-4 on the season. He also leads the team with nine pins and 16 bonus-point victories. He is ranked No. 5 in multiple national polls.
Kent State will host the 2014 MAC Championships this Saturday and Sunday.
ON THE SPOT
The taping of the Record-Courier's second 'On the Spot' video, featuring yours truly and Kent State sports fans, is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, March 27, at 10 a.m. Anyone who would like to be an 'On the Spot' guest should email firstname.lastname@example.org.