It was a banner weekend for the Blue Streak men’s and women’s track teams at the Ohio Athletic Conferece Championships, held April 30-May 1 at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio. Top performances were abundant, as a total of seven JCU athletes earned All-OAC honors.
Leading the charge was junior David Hickey, who ran an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 53.83 seconds as he took the title in the 400 meter hurdles. Hickey was the only Blue Streak to win an OAC title, and he currently ranks 16th in the country in his quest to return to the NCAA Championship meet this season.
“It feels really good to win this one,” Hickey said, “I feel good knowing that I’ve improved every year – to be third freshman year, to second last year, to first this year. I just feel very accomplished.”
Also finishing in the top three to garner all-conference honors for the men were freshman Mike Minjock and junior Matthew Szep, respectively in the long jump and 400 meter hurdles.
“It really felt good to see my fellow hurdlers succeed,” Hickey said of the performances of his fellow hurdlers. “These are the guys who have been working just as hard as me in practice every day, and I’m really happy to see everybody’s hard work pay off.”
Last week, Minjock recorded a wind-aided jump of 7.24 meters at Baldwin-Wallace that would have been a provisional qualifying mark under normal wind conditions. As if he was determined to prove that he had what it takes to compete with the best in the OAC, the freshman outpaced the majority of the field to place second with a jump of 6.98 meters.
“It was a little disappointing that they erased my mark from last week,” Minjock said. “But it was OK. It just got me excited to get out here and do it again. I know now that I have the potential to accomplish some big things during the rest of this season and over the next three years.”
Szep was not far behind Hickey in the 400 meter hurdle final, as he finished third to claim his first All-OAC honor in 55.84 seconds. Szep scored additional team points with a sixth place finish in the 110 meter hurdles (16.39 seconds).
Junior Denny Love and senior RK Glover each had near misses at achieving all-conference status in their events. Love was fourth in the 110 meter hurdles in 15.88 seconds, while Glover was fourth in the triple jump at 13.36 meters and fifth in the long jump at 6.85 meters.
On the women’s side, it was senior Emily Tillmaand who stole the show, pacing the field in the 10,000 meter run to finish second overall in 41:01.13 minutes.
She finished the race right on the heels of the event winner, Heather Stalter of Mount Union, finishing a mere nine seconds behind her.
The performances of the three additional Blue Streak all-conference performers for the women were perhaps just as impressive.
Senior Katie Manjerovic in particular put forth a great effort in the javelin. The senior placed third overall with a distance of 37.12 meters, shattering a 12-year-old school record and garnering her first All-OAC honor.
Manjerovic was elated with the result. “I just couldn’t believe it when they announced the distance,” she said. “Honestly, I started to cry when I thought of all the years that I put in hard work to accomplish something like this, and it all paid off in a great way. It was a great way to go out as a senior.”
Also garnering all-conference honors for the women’s team were freshman Ashley Aberl and sophomore Megan Lutz. Aberl was third in the 1,500 meter run in 4:53.25 while Lutz was third in the 800 meter run (2:19.36). Aberl also was fifth in the 5,000 meters (18:50.38).
Maureen Creighton and Brittany Musa each finished one spot outside of the top three in their respective events, narrowly missing out on winning all-conference accolades. Creighton took fourth in the 200 meters at 26.13, while Musa was fourth in the long jump (1.58 meters).
Overall, the JCU men’s team placed sixth out of ten teams with 65.5 points, while the women placed seventh with 65.0 points.