Monday, March 2, 2009

Lifshitz and Mabil win events, men's track team finishes fourth at MAC Championships

Issue date: 3/2/09

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

If someone would have told men's track coach Jim Knapp that his team was going to set 13 personal records at the Mid-American Conference Championships, he would have felt good about his team's chances.

But despite that becoming a reality this weekend at Kent State, the team could only manage a fourth-place finish. The Chippewas finished with 64 points, behind the host Golden Flashes (159), Akron (132) and Eastern Michigan (109).

"I thought our guys did a great job," Knapp said. "With all of the personal records, it was our best performance of the year."

Sophomore Oz Lifshitz and junior Riak Mabil were the team's two winners, taking the triple jump and 5,000-meter run, respectively.

Lifshitz jumped 15.19 meters in the finals to take the triple jump victory and nearly scored in his first Mid-American Conference meet as a long jumper, placing seventh in the event. Mabil won his event by finishing in 14 minutes, 43 seconds and felt the team's performance was solid. Finishing just under two seconds behind Mabil was junior Jacob Korir.

"Everybody did good," Mabil said. "There wasn't anything we could have done better."

He mentioned the team's youth and continued, "We knew we were capable of personal records and it was just about doing it at the right time."

Asked about the unusual correlation between so many personal bests and a fourth-place finish, Knapp said, "It's all about the numbers." He noted the teams ahead of the Chippewas had substantially more athletes to compete in the events than his team.

"It falls on me," he continued. "I need to do a better job of recruiting."

Other notable performances from the meet were freshman Larry Dawkins and senior Larry Dawkins, who finished in third and fifth place, respectively, in the 60-meter dash. Junior Dave Ashcraft also finished second in the 400m dash and the men's distance medley finished in fourth place.

The meet finished the indoor season for CMU, the team will participate in light workouts this week and rest over spring break to get prepared for the outdoor season, which Knapp has often referred to as the stronger of the two for the program.

"I thought we competed," he said, summing up the season in a few words. "We might have been on the short end in terms of our numbers of athletes, but we always competed hard."

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