CMU Sends 2 to NCAA Championships

CMU Sends 2 to NCAA Championships

Provided by CMU

Andy Sneddon,

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Central Michigan will send two student-athletes to the NCAA Track and Field Championships after their respective performances at the East Preliminary at the University of North Florida over the weekend.

CMU's Devene Brown and Cole Walderzak, both juniors, advanced to the NCAA Championships at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field June 10-13.

The East Preliminary wrapped up on Saturday with Central Michigan participating in two events, the women's hammer throw and the men's 4x400 relay.

The Chippewas' relay squad -- Malik Vasquez, Clay Holman, Erik Huertas, Ziemowit Dutkiewicz -- finished 13th in a school-record 3 minutes, 7.03 seconds.

The quartet missed out on a trip to Eugene by one spot, but broke the former mark, 3:08.46, they set on May 2 at the Jesse Owens Classic at Ohio State. The record they set at Ohio State broke a mark (3:10.4) that had stood since 1978.

Holman is a senior, Dutkiewicz and Vasquez are sophomores, and Huertas is a freshman.

"The record when we started the year was 3:10.4, and to drop more than 3 seconds off of it was an incredible effort," CMU director of track & field Mark Guthrie said. "Coach always wants more, and yeah I would have liked to have seen them qualify; but for them to run as fast as they ran, I couldn't be more proud of them.

"Over the course of the year they became very close and had faith and trust in each other and you've got to have that."

CMU sophomore Kylee Dobbelaere competed in the women's hammer throw on Saturday, finishing 36th with a throw of 177 feet, 1 inch.

Brown and Walderzak will represent CMU at Oregon in the women's discus and men's hammer throw, respectively. Brown finished seventh in the discus (174-1), while Walderzak was 10th in the hammer throw with a school-record toss of 212-11.

"Cole and Devene, happy about their performances and I'm really excited for them, one because they're going and two because they're back (next season)," Guthrie said.

That Walderzak and Brown are headed to Oregon did not come as a surprise, Guthrie said. Based on seeding, both stood a good chance of moving on.

CMU senior Abbey Kelto also entered the preliminary with a high seed, in the women's 10,000-meter run, but she failed to qualify. It was her final athletic competition in a Chippewa uniform after transferring to CMU from Michigan State.

She holds four school records and last fall became just the second CMU woman to qualify for the NCAA Cross Country Championships.

"Abbey epitomized student-athlete," Guthrie said. "Being the gamer she is she put her nose in and gave it her best shot. She had an outstanding short career here and great senior year."

It was also the final meet as a Chippewa for senior Bridget Doughty, who competed in the 400-meter hurdles and made her third appearance in the NCAA First Round in her career.

"Bridget Doughty has done a lot of relays and we're going to miss her," Guthrie said. "She's done everything we've asked her to do. She was a good leader by work ethic and by performance, and by what she did behind the scenes for the team."

For all but Brown and Walderzak, the preliminary brought and end to the season, Guthrie's second at the helm.

"Everybody competed pretty well, whether it was in the 10,000, the hurdles, the relays," he said. "Everybody has gotten better and the program's going the right direction. The work the coaches have put in, the progress we've made, the effort the student-athletes have given every day.

"You start getting that excitement and that's what we need to get going in the program."