Friday, February 27, 2009

Knapp: Men's track championships for the seniors

Issue date: 2/27/09

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

For the men's track team, last week's Jack Skoog Open was for their coach.

But competing at this weekend's Mid-American Conference Championship, that's for their seniors.

The meet begins at 10 a.m. today and continues Saturday, hosted by Kent State.

Today, the team will try to help them end their careers on a good note, something head coach Jim Knapp has stressed at the beginning of each season.

"I would do anything for the seniors," Knapp said. "They've earned it. They've paid their dues. It's their opportunity to lead this team."

Assistant coach Troy Irvine remembers the first thing Knapp said when addressing the team at the beginning of this indoor season.

"He stood up in front of the guys and said, 'Each season is for the seniors. We're here as athletes so they have something to remember,'" Irvine said.

Knapp said that loyalty is a two-way street - to get it, you must earn it.

"It's a big thing to me," he said of being loyal. "A huge thing. We start to cultivate that when the freshman come in and it carries through until they're seniors."

The Chippewas will be one senior down, as 2008 All-American Abraham Mach will be unable to run due to a hamstring injury that has been acting up for two weeks and also forced him to sit out last week's meet.

Last Friday, Mach expressed his frustration with the injury, saying he was working on it daily, not ruling out the possibility of defending his title in the 800-meter run.

On Wednesday, Knapp ruled him out.

"He's been banging his head against the wall," Knapp said. "His injuries just weren't getting better. It was time to put him on ice and get him better for the outdoor season."

Mach's absence will force the team's other groups to maintain their high level of play, most notably the pole vaulters and throwers, who have come on strong as of late.

Junior pole vaulter Marcus Briedinger has been encouraging his teammates to look at the conference listings on the Web site.

"I tell them to take their seeds and beat them," Briedinger said. "There is unlimited potential at the MAC meet. We do our part and we'll see what happens."

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