WMU Wins Three Event Titles, Takes Fifth at MAC Championships
Provided by WMU
AKRON, Ohio -- Two school records fell as the Western Michigan track and field team claimed three event titles and finished in fifth place at the 2016 Indoor Mid-American Conference Championships at the University of Akron on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Ayiana successfully defended her 400-meter dash title, also helping the 4x400-meter relay team to a first-place finish and earning the MAC Championship Most Outstanding Track Performer. Gaines smoked the competition in the 400, running a time of 53.76 seconds on the 300-meter track for a WMU record (converted to 54.06 for 200-meter standard) and a MAC record.
"That's a whole different kind of pressure when you're the defending champion," said head coach Kelly Lycan on Gaines' performance. "You have that bulls eye on your back but she dealt with it very well."
In the 4x400 Gaines ran the anchor leg, passing three teams en route to the Broncos running a time of 3:40.27. Sarita Dotson, Naiomi Dulaney and Jordan Anderson also contributed in the first-place finish that saw the squad finish just under one second faster than second-place Kent State.
Dotson broke the school record and set a Stile Field House record in the 200-meter dash after taking first place with a time of 23.72 seconds, earning the junior her first individual MAC title. She becomes the first sprinter in WMU history to break 24 seconds indoors. Gaines also scored in the 200, taking eighth place.
"Sarita looked so strong in that race," Lycan added. "Things were close at the 100-meter mark but she just powered through to the finish."
Dotson set the tone for the team in the 60-meter dash. She ran a personal-best 7.55 seconds to take third overall. Dulaney finished in eight, giving WMU seven points to start off the day.
Junior Claire Gilbert also had a solid performance, taking fifth overall in the mile run with a time of 4:56.20 and score four points. Gilbert put herself in great position early on and was able to adjust to moves being made around her to maintain her positioning.
"Claire did a great job," said Lycan. "It was one of the more enjoyable races on the day. She isn't someone who has been in a lot of big races but she looked like a veteran out there."
Over in the triple jump senior Diajah Ruffin reached 12 meters (39 feet, 4.50 inches) for the first time in her career and scored two valuable points for the Broncos by finishing in seventh place.
"I'm really proud of our fifth place finish," concluded Lycan. "We were in seventh place going into the 4x400 and jumped all the way up to fifth. With all the injuries and illnesses we have had to go through this season, I'm really proud of their effort. It was not an easy road and they competed really hard today."