Track: Indoor track to start seasonFriday, December 12 2008 - EIU Early Bird
Eastern hosts Early Bird at Lantz Fieldhouse
Bob Shaughnessy/Staff Reporter
The Eastern indoor track team will begin its season today as they start the EIU Early Bird Meet.
The meet will also include Indiana State, Western Illinois, Butler and Xavier.
The meet consisted of the four programs last year and this year Eastern will welcome Xavier to Lantz Field House.
Last season, the Panthers picked up wins against Butler and Western Illinois in both the women's and men's scoring. Indiana State was able to beat the Panthers in dual scoring for both the men and women.
"Indiana Sate is a very comparable program to us, about the same size school," said Eastern head coach Tom Akers. "Their coaches have a lot of the same philosophies as we have. They are a very broad based program, solid across the board. They are always a great measuring stick for us."
The event that Eastern succeeded in last year was the distance medley.
The event should be even stronger for the Panthers this year as they have added former Jacksonville State runner Ryan McKay to go along with seniors David Holm and Clint Coffey and junior Wes Sheldon.
McKay brings great energy and also brings some senior leadership to a team that is primarily a young group.
"We were second in conference last year and that's not where we strive to be," Akers said. "We use to be a real power in the (Ohio Valley Conference), and that's what we want to get back to. Our number one goal is the OVC title."
Contributing on the women's end will be senior sprinter Shawana Smith who took home top honors in the 200-meter dash in the Early Bird last season. Smith was followed by fellow senior Molly Clutter as the two took home first and second in the 200.
Clutter was a member of the conference championship 400-meter relay team last season and also holds the ninth fastest relay time in Eastern history, while Smith ranks third in the Eastern record books for her 200 run time of 24.89 seconds.
The action will begin at 4 p.m. with the men's weight throw and the women's long jump.
Running events are scheduled to begin at 4:10 p.m. with the final running events of the day scheduled for 8:45 p.m.
"We have talent across the track and in the field events it is going to be exciting to see what happens," Akers said. "I think we should have a lot of people show up, and I remind people that it's free."
After today's meet the Panthers will not have another until Jan. 24 when they will be back at the Lantz Fieldhouse for the EIU Mega Meet.
Bob Shaughnessy can be reached at 581-7944 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.