Track&Field: Meets give one last chance for success

Friday, March 5 2010 - Alex Wilson Invitational

Eastern athletes have opportunity to run personal bests

Personal bests and school records.

That is what Eastern head track coach Tom Akers is seeking from his athletes this weekend. Freshman hurdler Dominique warms up before the men's 60 meter hurdles Feb. 19 at the Eastern Illinois University Friday Night Special Meet.  (Danny Damiani/The Daily Eastern News)

The Panthers will send eight athletes to the Iowa State Last Chance meet Friday and Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Normally, Last Chance meets are used for athletes to try to qualify for the NCAA Championships. The Panthers are using the meet as a springboard toward the outdoor season, set a personal best or attain a school record.

Red-shirt senior Dorrian White will compete in the pole vault, senior Erin O'Grady will run in the mile and red-shirt freshman Lamarr Pottinger will compete in the 60-meter hurdles. Red-shirt senior Chandra Golden will compete in the 60-meter hurdles, senior Marcus Williams will compete in the 400-meter dash and junior Darren Patterson will compete in the 200-meter dash. Patterson, Williams, sophomore Sean Wiggan and senior Wes Sheldon will combine to compete in the 1,600-meter relay.

"Sometimes these meets are hit or miss," Akers said. "It's a little tough to get up after a conference meet."

Golden and Williams have competed at Last Chance meets before, and the Panthers competed at Iowa State's Lied Recreation Center earlier this season and for the past three seasons.

Akers said while the drive is long, he feels his athletes are ready to compete.

Pottinger will experience his first Last Chance meet.

He is aiming to hit eight seconds flat and reach the top 10 list in program history in his hurdles race.

"I would like to accomplish that this year as a freshman," he said. "I love to compete because even when I do bad, I love to get better. I feel like I have that ability to accomplish that feat this weekend."

Pottinger's best time this season is 8.14 seconds, which came at the Illinois Intercollegiates on Jan. 30 at Lantz Fieldhouse. Pottinger won the 55-meter hurdles at the Ohio Valley Conference Championships Saturday.

Pottinger knows the field will not be easy. He estimates 90 percent of the field is better than him.

"Most of the people there are going to try to qualify for nationals," he said. "Their heat times are all probably faster than mine. I know I'm in a heat with good-caliber competition."

Akers is taking Pottinger to the Last Chance meet because Pottinger has had such a strong indoor season.

"He's got a pretty bright future," Akers said.

Patterson, Williams, Wiggan and Sheldon are looking to break the 1,600-meter relay record. They foursome have combined to run a mark of 3 minutes, 12.67 seconds, which ranks fourth in program history. The top mark is 3:12.40.

"We're hoping to get into a hot race," Akers said.

The Panthers won the relay at the conference meet with Wiggan finishing the first leg uncontested. Sheldon has been the key as the third leg as he has been battling through illness all season. He had mono around winter break and had respiratory issues.

Akers said he would not be surprised if the team is healthy enough this weekend to not only break the record, but even break it by one or two seconds.

O'Grady is seeking to run a sub 5-minute mile. She won the mile at the Friday Night Special and finished in 5:01.05, which ranks fifth in program history. Only four women have run a sub 5-minute mile in program history. Nicole Flounders was the last woman to achieve that feat in 2007.

Golden is looking to finish a solid indoor career after last week being named OVC Co-Female Track Athlete of the Year.

Kevin Murphy can be reached at 581-7944 or