Ball State's track and field team will compete in the Kentucky Invitational in Lexington Jan. 13 and 14. The Cardinals will face 21 other teams, including Akron, Cincinnati, Dayton, Ohio State and Kentucky. Brad Caudill // Photo Provided
RECAP: Ball State track and field competes at 13th annual Akron Invitational
Sixteen different Cardinals finished in the top 10 of their event and 10 set new personal records at the 13th-annual Akron Invitational Feb. 3 and 4.
Women's track and field head coach Brian Etelman said his team was up to the occasion and gained confidence.
“We just talked about making sure we were ready to go this weekend, and stepping up a level of competition now that January is behind us,” Etelman said. “We just put a really big focus on getting after it this weekend… It was a really great day, [the team] did a great job.”
The invitational began with the 5000m run. All three Ball State runners — Jessica Bryzek, Stephanie McElhaney and Maritza Rodriguez — set new personal records, with Bryzek coming out as the highest-finishing Cardinal in seventh place with a time of 18:09.22.
Two Cardinals won their events, with Jazmine Smith taking top honors in the 60m finals and Amber Jones setting a new personal best in the Blue Division 200m with a time of 25.27 seconds. Ball State took both of the top spots in the 60m final, with freshman Jasmine Harris taking second with a time of 8.56 seconds.
Smith actually set two different PRs during the invitational, an 8.63 second performance in the prelims and a 8.53 in the final round, good for second.
“[Smith] probably had the best overall performance,” Etelman said. “Running two PRs and winning. She had been out for about three weeks, and had been coming off an ankle injury, so it was great to see her take control of the race, get real loose in between the hurdles and run fast.”
Freshman Emily Tromp was one of three Ball State runners to finish in the top three in Saturday morning’s Blue Division events by finishing second in the mile run and was less than four-tenths of a second away from winning the event. Jones and Jordan Timmons in the 3000m run with a time of 10:36.22 were the other Cardinals to place in the top three of their Blue Division events.
Ball State also got the opportunity to see five other Mid-American Conference schools at the event, with the Cardinals coming out with the best MAC performer in four events where a conference foe competed.
“All the PRs are great, but walking away knowing we beat some people who were ranked ahead of us head-to-head was really huge,” Etelman said.
Ball State will be back in action once again next weekend when the team travels to Huntington, West Virginia, to compete in the Chipotle Marshall Invitational at Marshall University. One week after that, the Cardinals will host their first and only home meet of the indoor season, the Ball State Tune-Up.