Ball State track and field went to Nashville, Tennessee to compete in the Music city Challenge for a two-day meet, finishing four top 10 finishes. 

Head coach Brian Etelman said he was pleased with how the meet went and how much the team stepped up against opponents like Ohio State, Ole Miss and other high profile teams.

“I was most impressed with how we stepped up to the level of competition," Etelman said. "You can look at the number of power 5 athletes we outperformed in some of the key areas like the sprints hurdles and high jump. It’s obvious that we are able to compete with anyone, not just MAC schools.”

Juniors Regan Lewis, Peyton Stewart and Jazmin Smith all finished top 10 in their respected events, with the Cardinals 4x400m relay team consisting of Smith, MaQuila Norman, Bryeana Byrdsong and Amber Jones finishing second as well.

Lewis, quite literally, set the bar for the Cardinals in the first day of competition, clearing the 1.76-meter bar in the high jump and placing second behind Cincinnati’s junior Loretta Blaut, who cleared the 1.81m bar.

“Regan was awesome,” Etelman said. “That’s the highest bar she has cleared outside of a MAC championship, so that proves that she’s in great form and super confident heading into the big one next weekend.”

Smith came in fourth in the 60m hurdles, finishing with a time of 8.41, .01 short of the Mid-American Conference best time she set a week prior. Stewart, on the other hand, took seventh in the 60m dash with a time of 7.53. Both runners have been finishing races with similar times – that's key, according to Etelman.

“Jazmin Smith and Peyton Stewart have been incredibly consistent, which is most important in those events,” Etelman said, “Because consistency is an indicator of a big-time performance being on the horizon.”

When the Cardinals went to Akron, they ran in their first 4x400 relay race this season, finishing first with a time of 3:49.36. Still, Etelman tweaked the lineup this past weekend, and will keep adjusting it until it is where he thinks they can be at. This week's lineup shaved more than two seconds off their original time, clocking in at 3:47.19.

Sophomore Maritza Rodriguez shaved off 19 seconds off of her time in the 3000m run, finishing in 25th, to which Etelman was satisfied. 

“Maritza was great, as expected," Etelman said. "[A] 3k is a little short for her, but it showed she’s in great shape. We’ll rely on her in the 5k at the MAC meet.”

Though the team did not get as many Top 5 or Top 10 performances as they usually do, Etelman and the team was happy with the results of the meet.

“Overall, we’re in a good spot,” Etelman said. “We have a lot of kids that need to qualify for the MAC meet based off how they perform on Friday at home. I’m looking forward to not traveling and competing on our own track.”

The Cardinals return home for the Ball State tune-up at 5 p.m. on Feb. 16, the last meet before the Mid-American Conference Championships on Feb. 23-24. 

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