OXFORD, Ohio - After splitting up and attending two different meets last week, the entire Miami University women's track and field team will head north this weekend to take part in the Akron Invitational, hosted by the University of Akron at Stile Athletics Field House.
The RedHawks will face a large, tough field Friday and Saturday, as a total of 730 athletes from 40 different schools, counting both the men and the women, will compete at the meet. Highlighting the women's side is No. 11 Georgia, while Pittsburgh and West Virginia will also be in attendance. Other schools participating in the meet include Mid-American Conference foes Bowling Green, Kent State and the host Zips, as well as Ashland, Florida Atlantic, Howard, IPFW, Marshall and Wright State, among others.
The meet gets underway Friday at 4 p.m. with the pole vault, which will feature junior Kori Tatman (Amanda, Ohio) and sophomore Taylor Brown (Hilliard, Ohio). The only other events Miami will take part in Friday are the blue division long jump at 6:30 p.m., the distance medley relay at 8 p.m. and the gold invitational 5000m run, which wraps up day one, at 8:30 p.m. Action resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with the blue section of the 3000m run, while field events begin at 2:15 p.m. with the gold invitational pole vault. Gold invitational track events, in which most of Miami's athletes are scheduled to run, begin at 3:30 p.m. with the mile run. The meet then concludes at 6:05 p.m. with the 4x400m relay.
Last weekend, some RedHawks competed at the Tom Wright Classic, hosted by Bowling Green on Friday, while the rest of the team was in Lexington, Ky. for the Rod McCravy Memorial. Miami won four events at the Tom Wright Classic, taking the top four spots in the shot put led by redshirt senior Alexandra Roberts (Hilliard, Ohio) while Tatman and Brown went 1-2 in the pole vault. Junior Erin Riley (Avon Lake, Ohio) took first in the 800m run while redshirt senior Samantha Gable (Greenfield, Ind.) claimed the weight throw.
At the University of Kentucky's Rod McCravy Memorial last Saturday, senior Layne Baggett (Pittsburgh, Pa.) highlighted the RedHawks' performances by taking fourth in the 60m hurdles, including clocking 8.47 in the prelims, which is the second-fastest time in school history. Several distance runners also had strong showings, including sophomore Melissa Girgis (Worthington, Ohio), who placed seventh in the 3000m run in 9:48.57, which moved her up to sixth in school history. Freshman Laura Bess (Brownsburg, Ind.) also performed well in the mile, capturing third in a Miami season-best time.
At last year's Akron Invitational, the now-graduated Rachael Clay won the gold division 400m dash while Baggett was fifth in the 60m hurdles finals. Sophomore Anna Lamb (Granville, Ohio) was the runner-up in the gold division 3000m run as a freshman, however she will run in the 5K this year. Roberts was second in the gold division shot put, as well. Sophomore Alex Chitwood (Carmel, Ind.) crossed first in the blue division mile run last year while junior Erica Howes (Fairfax, Va.) was right behind in second. This year, Chitwood will run in the gold division mile run while Howes will compete in the gold division 3000m run.
Although the MAC Championships are still three weeks away, several RedHawks rank towards the top of the MAC in their respective events. Baggett sits second in the 60m hurdles with her clocking of 8.47 last week, which is a MAC automatic qualifying time. Girgis and Lamb rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the 3000m run, having already qualified for the MAC Championships with their outings at UK last week, while Lamb is also second in the MAC in the 5000m run with her time of 17:23.15. Bess has automatically qualified for the league meet in the mile as she ranks seventh in the MAC after her showing at Kentucky.
In field events, junior Erica Mudd (Cincinnati, Ohio) and redshirt junior Ashley Zaper (Whitehouse, Ohio) are tied for third in the MAC in the high jump, having both cleared 1.73m/5-8, which is a MAC auto qualifier, while Mudd ranks fourth in the long jump also with an automatic qualifying leap (5.77m/18-11.25). Zaper is second in the pentathlon as well, with a score of 3,521. Tatman has qualified in the pole vault after clearing 3.80m/12-5.5 last Friday at BGSU, ranking her eighth in the league, while Roberts is fifth in the shot put with a mark of 14.72m/48-3.5, which is an automatic qualifying throw.
Links to live results and live video of this weekend's meet are available on MURedHawks.com. Following the Akron Invitational, Miami returns to Bloomington, Ind. for the second time this year for the Hoosier Hills Invitational, hosted by Indiana University, Feb. 8-9. The RedHawks ran at IU's Gladstein Invitational Jan. 18-19.