The Ball State track and field hosts the only home indoor meet of the season in the Field Sports Buidling on Feb. 17. The Ball State Tune-Up included teams from Fort Wayne, Western Michigan, and Wright State. Kyle Crawford, DN File
At 'MAC Championship preview,' Ball State to face conference teams at Akron
Ball State track and field will face Mid-American Conference competitor Akron this weekend. The team is coming off of a big weekend at Purdue and is looking forward to competing.
“Akron is usually our best meet of the year, regular season wise, just because coming off of January, we have worked out a lot of kinks," head coach Brian Etelman said. “The next two weeks will be really good for us, but I think you can expect to see us with huge improvements in regard to moving up on the MAC list. I think our team will look a little bit more like a MAC Championship team this weekend.”
Last weekend, sophomore shot-putter Kelsey Walters had a huge meet. She moved up to top 10 in the MAC and is now third best all-time at Ball State.
Walters is confident and ready to see how much farther she can throw and how close she can get to closing the gap between her and the school's indoor record this weekend.
"My overall goal is to beat the school record both indoor and outdoor for shotput, so I am content, but I am not satisfied with how I’ve done,” Walters said. “I have a lot more improvement and a lot more to work on before I can break that school record.”
Etelman doesn't think that Walters will be the only one coming out of Akron with a successful meet.
“Bryeana Byrdsong had a good meet at Kentucky, but she is ready to put down a pretty good 200 time, so we are looking forward to that," Etelman said. We are going to be running an ‘A’ 4x400 for the first time all year.
"I have been rotating people through our relay, so we will have, what I consider, our four best right now, but that could change next week. Our 4x400 and Byrdsong ... and I am excited to see what Brooke can do with a mile. She ran a good 800, but I want to see how well she does in a championship caliber mile. We also have a couple kids returning from injury that are ready to go. I say Byrd and Brooke for sure right now will do well.”
Walters and Etelman have high hopes for the team as it faces Akron, but only if it performs with the same urgency and intensity that it did against Purdue.
“If we all put in the effort that we put in at Purdue, we should do fairly well," Walters said. "Coach E was satisfied with how well we did at Purdue and is looking forward to MAC in a couple weeks. We just have to keep the momentum moving as we go into Akron and run the best times and throws as far as we can and just encouraging each other as a team. I think we will do fine in Akron if we keep a positive mindset.”
Along with their goals on the track, Etelman and Walters hope to see positive mindsets and the right mentality from the team.
“We talked to the team about having a championship mentality," Etelmn said. So, I think understanding that every jump, every through, every race, every step matters, not only in training, but also in competing and putting a premium on beating teams in the conference head-to-head. We can go and beat schools not in the MAC and that’s great, but if we can’t beat the people we are going to be competing against for points, it does not really matter that much."
Etelman described this weekend as a MAC Championship preview since half of the MAC will be there competing. Akron, Kent State, Buffalo, Central Michigan and Bowling Green will all be competing alongside Ball State.
“Next week we will see most of the SEC and half of the ACC at Vanderbilt, so the purpose of this weekend is to give us a little competition and take a step up next week,” Etelman said. "Then, by the time we go to the MAC Championship, we have kind of seen the full scale of quality of competition, so we will be prepared for anything and everything.”
Ball State will compete in Akron on Friday and Saturday in the 14th Annual Akron Invitational.
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