Men’s team improves from last year, takes fourth at PAC championships

As he entered the men’s 3k race, at his first collegiate track championship meet, freshman distance runner Jac Cokely was nervous.

He had sat out from most of the indoor track meets, waiting to compete at this specific meet, the Presidents’ Athletic indoor track & field championships. As it turned out, Thursday was Cokley’s time to shine.

The official said the words “on your mark” and the gun fired with a loud bang. Cokely strode forward and the race began. In that second, all of his previous nerves disappeared, and Cokely was ready to race.

He heard his teammates cheering and persevered , finishing fourth with a time of 9:12.02 which was good enough to break the 2017 school record set by Joel Kuzminski.

Although the men’s track & field team placed just fourth overall, there were many star performers, along with Cokley, helped the Jackets improve upon last year’s finish.

“There were several performances that really stuck out,” coach Michelle Cross, said.

One of those notable performances was Cokley; however, he wasn’t the only one to break a school record Thursday night.

“[JaWuan] Jones also picked up a record in the 200 [meter dash] and ran it in the front from the beginning,” Cross said.

Jones ran a time of 22.78, placing third overall and beating the 200-meter dash school record set by Eric Townsend earlier this month at the Mount Union Wuske Invitational.

Cross noted that Townsend also performed well Thursday, bouncing back and forth between “killing it on the track and then bringing it in jumps.”

Townsend placed fifth in the 200-meter, second in long jump and 16th in triple jump.

Going into the meet, Cross knew there would be many great performances like these because of the returning athletes from previous years, as well as the new blood they’ve gained this winter.

“It has been obvious to me from the start that this is the most talented guys team we have had in a while, and that [there are] a lot of younger members to the team as well,” she said.

Coming into the meet, there was a somewhat wide range of realistic possibilities as to where the men’s team would finish.

“When I ran projections on them, I had them seeded anywhere from 4-6,” Cross said. “However, it was so close that they also could have gotten second. It was incredibly hard to predict exactly where they would land just because the meet was so close.”

Even though the team fell well short of second, Cross was pleased with the results.

“I think any time you can improve, that shows that your program is headed in the right direction,” she said. “ I honestly didn’t know what to expect for the team. However, I am pleased to see that they bettered themselves, and at the end of the day that is always indicated by progress.”

With indoor over and outdoor just around the corner, the men’s track and field team will continue to prepare for another head-to-head battle with the PAC schools April 24 -25.

“I definitely think they have the potential to [move up in the PAC]. But, as with indoor, I think it will be very close again,” Cross said.

The team’s first outdoor meet is scheduled for March 21 at West Virginia University.