Friday, April 17, 2009

Men's track team splits up, travel across country

Issue date: 4/17/09

By Anthony Fenech
Staff Reporter

For the second time in two weeks, the men's track team is splitting up during a weekend. This time, the two groups will compete nearly 2,500 miles away from one another.

Four athletes will have their hand in another elite meet, traveling to Walnut, Calif., to compete in the 51st annual Mt. San Antonio College Relays. The four competing are junior thrower Greg Pilling, freshmen sprinter Dave Ashcraft and junior pole vaulters Marcus Briedinger and Mike McGregor.

Last weekend, Pilling led the Chippewas' group at Tennessee's Sea Ray Relays with a fourth-place finish in the discus with a throw of 175 feet, two inches. Before the meet, he said his expectations included competing well against defending national champion Rashaud Scott of Kentucky.

Scott didn't qualify for the finals, while Pilling did.

"I don't think I can say anything about Greg that I haven't said before," head coach Jim Knapp said. "He's a great competitor, he practices just as hard as he competes in the meets and this was a great example of that."

"He's got lofty goals, a great work ethic and he works hard."

The rest of the team will head to Ypsilanti where the team will compete in the Eastern Michigan Invitational. It will mark the second competition against EMU this year.

Their first meeting, on April 4 at Lyle Bennett Track, saw the Eagles come away victorious with a score of 92-81.

"We're looking forward to the weekend," senior distance runner Riak Mabil said. "It's going to be nice to have some good weather."

This weekend will be especially nice for Mabil, who is returning from an injury that has ailed him for the beginning portion of the outdoor season.

Knapp said Mabil will be competing in the 1,500-meter run, a shorter event than he's used to because it's his first time back competing on the track in more than three weeks.

"This might be like a sprint to him," Knapp said. "He's a true distance runner and this is a shorter distance for him."

Knapp echoed Mabil's thoughts on the weather and said the throwers will appreciate it more than anybody on the team.

Friday night, the throwers stood at Miami University in the pouring rain, until coaches convinced track officials to postpone the hammer throw until the morning. When they woke up, the weather did not cooperate.

"They were in the bitter cold and it just wasn't good," Knapp said.

However nice the weather is in Ypsilanti, chances are good that the quartet of athletes in California will have it even better. Pole vaulter Mike McGregor said the focus cannot be on the weather.

"Yeah, I'm sure the weather will be nice," he said. "But we're going there to compete."

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