OXFORD, Ohio – After each had at least one championship performance at the Mid-American Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships last weekend in Akron, the Miami Athletes of the Week connected by Frontier Communications for the week of May 6-12 are seniors Layne Baggett and Diona Graves and sophomore Anna Lamb on the women’s side, and senior Jarrod Eick and junior Sam Spallinger for the men. All five athletes garnered First-Team All-MAC honors for their efforts at the meet.
Baggett (Pittsburgh, Pa.) earned the women’s Most Outstanding Track Performance Award at the meet after winning the 100m hurdles title for the third straight year Saturday. She crossed in a MAC meet-record time of 13.32, which is the third-fastest time in school history, just a hundredth of a second behind her own school record. Baggett is the first MAC woman to three-peat in the event since Miami Hall of Famer Becca Williams, who shares the school record with Baggett, did so from 1995-97. In addition to the 10 points earned for the 100m hurdles win, Baggett turned around an hour later and placed fourth in the 100m dash final in 11.89 for another five points toward Miami’s team score. In the 100m prelims Friday, she set a personal best of 11.68 to qualify third while her time ties for the third-fastest in school history. Baggett also helped Miami win the 4x100m relay in a school-record time of 45.29, breaking a record from 2004, which was the only other time Miami had won the relay. In all, she helped Miami earn 25 points in the team standings.
Graves (Fenton, Mo.) won two individual titles and two relay titles in a span of about four hours Saturday at the MAC Championships. She won the 100m dash title for her first individual gold medal, crossing in 11.66, which is the third-fastest time in school history (all owned by Graves), after she broke her own school record in the 100m dash in Friday’s prelims with a time of 11.54 to also qualify first for the final. Later Saturday, she captured the 200m dash title in a school-record 23.75, again breaking her own record that she had just set a day earlier in Friday’s prelims when she clocked 23.99 to qualify fifth. In winning both titles, she became the first female sprinter to win the MAC 100m and 200m dashes outdoors since Eastern Michigan’s Patrice Beasley in 2006. Graves is also the first RedHawk to win the 100m dash since Lashonda Davis in 2005, while she is only the second Miamian to ever claim the 200m title, joining Jackie Watkins in 1986. In addition to her individual success, Graves ran on both winning relay teams, running the second leg on the same 4x100m relay team as Baggett. She then capped her day by running the second leg on the winning 4x400m relay team that also set a school record with a time of 3:39.51, topping a time of 3:39.82 that she assisted in setting earlier this season. Graves helped Miami become the first program to sweep both relays at the MAC Outdoor Championships since Western Michigan in 2009. In total, Graves played a part in 40 of Miami’s 105 points scored at the meet.
Lamb (Granville, Ohio) totaled 18 points by herself in two races for the RedHawks, 10 of which came from her MAC title in the 10,000m run on Thursday. Running on her birthday, Lamb ran a smart race, holding back early before catching the lead pack and taking first with a few laps to go en route to winning the race in 35:06.56, which is the fifth-best time in school history (three of which Lamb owns). She cruised to victory by over 20 seconds ahead of Toledo’s Brooke Tullis, who was runner-up. Lamb is just the third Miamian to win the 10K title, but second in three years. Two days later, she came back and earned runner-up in the 5000m run in a personal-best 16:37.27, shedding 14 seconds off her old mark, while her time is eighth-best in school history. Lamb again trailed early before catching up to the leader, as she was just edged by less than a second at the line. She earned eight more points for her second-place finish.
Baggett and Lamb have each now earned Miami Female Athlete of the Week three times this year and in their careers, while this marks the first Miami Female Athlete of the Week honor of Graves’ career.
Eick (Hartville, Ohio) totaled 12 points at the MAC meet, 10 of which came from his win in the 1500m on Saturday. He finished in 3:51.66 as he made a late charge to pull away from Eastern Michigan’s Grzegorz Kalinowski down the home stretch. Eick is the first RedHawk to claim the 1500m MAC title since Pat Sovacool in 2008 and just the second Miamian to win it in over 45 years. Just two hours after his 1500m final, Eick returned to the track to finish seventh in the 5000m final in 14:57.22 for another two points.
Spallinger (Pandora, Ohio) captured the long jump title, destroying his personal best with a winning leap of 7.43m/24-45, which he recorded in the finals on his fifth attempt of the day. He improved on his previous best by five and a half inches while he now ties for fourth in school history. Spallinger is the first RedHawk to win the MAC long jump since 2001 (Nick Somerville, the school record holder), as Akron had won it each of the last six years. He is also only the second Miamian to win the event in the last 30 years. His jump ranks 33rd in the East Region, which will qualify him for NCAA East Prelims. Spallinger also ran on Miami’s 4x100m relay team that took fifth in 41.50 for five points, as he helped Miami earn 15 points at the meet.
Eick has now earned Miami Male Athlete of the Week five times in his career, including twice this year, with the first time coming for cross country. He has now collected the honor twice for his efforts on the track. For Spallinger, this was his first career Miami Male Athlete of the Week honor.
All five athletes will likely extend their season at the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in Greensboro, N.C. May 23-25. The top 48 in each event in the East Region qualify for NCAA prelims with the official field announced Thursday. Graves ranks 28th in the 100m and 42nd in the 200m, while Baggett is 15th in the 100m hurdles and Lamb sits 33rd in the 10K. Spallinger ranks 33rd in the long jump while Eick sits on the bubble at 50th in the 1500m, but he can still get in as some athletes could be injured or choose to enter a different event.
The next Miami Athletes of the Week connected by Frontier Communications will be announced Tuesday, May 21, though it will only be a Male Athlete of the Week as no women’s sports compete this week. For a list of previous winners, click here.
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