Individual success aplenty in Ohio for track and field

The Carnegie Mellon men’s and women’s track and field teams were in an Ohio state of mind the past two weekends. On Jan. 23, they traveled to Granville to compete in Denison University’s Lid-Lifter Invitational before traveling to Cleveland to take on Case Western Reserve University in a Jan. 30 dual meet. Both teams had much success at the Denison invitational before falling to Case, 63–64 on the men’s side and 40–86 on the women’s.

Seven men won events for the Tartans at Denison, highlighted by senior James Hulley’s 16.12-meter performance in the shot put. The distance is 0.58 meters farther than the NCAA Division III provisional qualifying distance and gives Hulley a very good shot to make the NCAA Championships. The performance also garnered Hulley his second straight UAA Athlete of the Week award.

“So far I have been happy with my performance this season,” Hulley said. “I’ve provisionally qualified for the NCAA Indoor National Championships already in shot put and will probably make it with my distance. Last indoor season, I qualified in the second-to-last meet, and it was very stressful leading up to finally throwing it that far. Being there already, I feel much more relaxed in my training and competitions, and I think that will ultimately lead to success at the national level, whereas last year I choked.”

In other field events, juniors Pat O’Brien and Mike Tomovich each cleared a height of 1.83 meters in the high jump, with O’Brien ulitmately being awarded first place on a judges’ decision. O’Brien also took second in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 8.46 seconds. Winners for the Tartans in the running events included first-year Noel Titus (200-meter, 23.28), sophomore Rob Morhard (800-meter, 2:00.60), and juniors Dustin Musselman (400-meter, 52.99), Nate Bussiere (one mile, 4:24.88), and J.P. Allera (3000-meter, 9:08.73). The men’s team also dominated the 4x400-meter relay, with their A, B, and C teams taking the top three spots and their A team (O’Brien, first-year Daniel Ching, Titus, and Musselman) finishing almost 15 seconds (3:36.90) ahead of fourth-place Washington and Jefferson.

The women also managed seven victories at the Lid-Lifter, with multiple victories from sophomore Ivana Moses and senior Diane Mattingly. Moses crossed in eight seconds flat to win the 55-meter dash, 0.24 seconds ahead of senior teammate Timi Abimbola, who finished third. Moses’ distance of 4.94 meters in the long jump and 10.10 meters in the triple jump were also good enough to win. Mattingly was able to take first in both the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes with times of 28.76 and 1:02.68. Junior teammate Courtney Baker crossed fifth in the 200-meter, only 0.81 seconds behind Mattingly, but was victorious in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:22.51. First-year Emily Wobb rounded out the individual victories for the Tartans by completing the 3000-meter run in 11:08.93, over 45 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher. Mattingly, Moses, and Baker were also part of the Tartans’ first-place 4x200-meter relay, joined by senior Crystal LeePow.

Against Case, the women couldn’t replicate their success despite some better individual performances. Moses’ time of 7.90 seconds in the 55-meter dash was good enough for fourth behind junior teammate Kim Nederlof (3rd, 7.78) and two Case competitors. Mattingly clocked in the Tartans’ only individual running victory of the day with a time of 1:03.18 in the 400-meter dash, and was also part of the winning 4x400-meter relay team. Moses and sophomore Luci Laffitte were able to one-two the long jump (4.98 and 4.89 meters, respectively), and Moses and junior Melissa Hwang took top two in the triple jump (10.4 and 9.92 meters), but it was not enough to overcome the deficit, as Case took the top two places in several events and took top four in the 500-meter.

“Although it was only our second meet of the season, this was a very competitive meet for us because we’re going up against another team in our UAA conference,” said Abimbola, who took fourth in the 20-meter dash. “This was the second annual ‘Steel Town Showdown,’ as Case Western likes to call it, and we were pumped to go head to head with them and push ourselves. We would have all liked to win, but we also realized that this was only our second meet and that we would try our best.”

Abimbola then added, “Case Western can have the trophy this year, but they shouldn’t be fooled because we still have a long way to go.”

Despite winning nine of 15 events, the men ultimately fell short as Case made sure to stay close behind their competitors, only allowing the Tartans to one-two an event twice. The Tartans did the same to their foes for the most part, but Case was able to take the top four spots in the 80-meter to run up the points on their side. Titus and Musselman once again took the 20-meter (23.75) and 40-meter (51.74), respectively, while Bussiere took the mile and Allera won the 500-meter. Hulley continued to dominate the shot put with a winning distance of 15.34 meters; he took second to senior teammate Chris Fornataro in the weight throw.

Despite the team’s loss, Hulley echoed Abimbola’s sentiments that the focus is more on individual performance. “For the entire year except for UAA’s at the end of the season, there is no importance to team scoring.... Most of the year is focused on developing individually in competitions so that when the UAA meet rolls around, you are able to go out there and compete hard with your team in a meet where place is everything and it’s all about the team. I take a great deal of pride performing well when my team is really counting on it.”

Both teams will head back to Ohio for the fourth straight weekend to compete this Saturday at Mount Union College.