The men’s and women’s track teams began their indoor seasons on Saturday, Jan. 14, at the Gene Edmonds Open at Purdue University.
A year after both the men’s and women’s teams won the Atlantic Sun Conference indoor championship, the athletes were looking to get this season off to an excellent start.
A number of returning stars, along with some fresh faces, make the Owls a formidable group this year, and the opening performances did not disappoint.
The standout athlete at the Open was junior Dayo Akindele, who took first place in the triple jump with a leap of 15.07 meters and the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.08 seconds. Akindele was named Most Outstanding Performer of last year’s conference championship, which, for the men, was their sixth consecutive conference title.
Junior Jocselyn Powell finished first in the 60-meter hurdles for the women’s team at the Open with a time of 8.43 seconds. She won the gold medal in that same event at the conference championship.
Last year’s conference heptathlon champion Paris Williams set an indoor personal best in the high jump with a distance of 1.92 meters.
For the director of track and field Andy Eggerth, there is much to look forward to this season. Having the right balance of experience and youth has been a crucial part of the long-term success of his teams, but an unending thirst for improvement is equally important.
“We posted many conference-leading performances,” Eggerth said. “At the same time, we were able to do some problem-solving, seeing several areas that we need to step up our game.”
The track team will head to Vanderbilt University to compete in the Commodore Invitational, which will be held on Friday, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Jan. 20.
Last season, the women won their first-ever indoor title, headed by nationally-ranked star Jordan Gray and a deep group of other talented athletes. Not only did they set the indoor championship team points record with 249 points, but they also set the largest margin of victory in the event’s history.
Twelve members of the team won a medal during the championship, and they also swept the podium in the high jump.
The men’s team won its sixth consecutive conference title last season but had begun the season as surprise underdogs, with some projections putting them in the middle of the pack in their conference. Sweeping the weight throw competition and placing well in many others, the men showed that they could maintain their excellence from last season.