Eastern Mennonite's track and field teams finished up the main part of their season this weekend, participating in the ODAC Championships in Lynchburg, Va. The men and the women each took home a pair of individual winners, while an EMU record and meet record were also toppled.
A small handful of Royals athletes will continue training in an effort to qualify for the NCAA National Championships in late May. Their next meet is the Liberty Twilight, set for Wednesday, May 4.
Senior thrower Jeremy Heizer (Staunton, Va./Riverheads) put a stamp on Friday's events by winning the shot put. He beat the field by more than 2m with his first toss of 16.21m (53-2.25ft) to win his third ODAC shot put title over the two most recent indoor and outdoor seasons.
Hurdles were again a strongpoint for the Royals men. Connor Faint (Winchester, Va./Millbrook) led the field in the preliminaries and did not disappoint in the finals, taking a relatively easy gold finish in 54.24. Jonathan Bush (Pottstown, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) moved up a spot from the prelims to the finals, coming in fifth overall in 57.05. It was Bush's best time of his senior season and narrowly missed last year's PR of 57.04.
Richard Robinson (Broadway, Va./Broadway) broke the 15-second barrier in the 110m hurdles, setting his PR in the preliminaries at 14.98. The senior settled for second place in the finals with a time of 15.18. Azariah Cox (Lynchburg, Va./Heritage) took sixth place in the finals, crossing the finish in 16.49 seconds.
Two men earned points in the 800m, headlined by Alec Thibodeaux (Mount Sidney, Va./Fort Defiance) earned the bronze for All-ODAC Third Team laurels. He finished in 1:56.24 for his best time of the season. Tyler Denlinger (Perkasie, Pa./Christopher Dock) wasn't far behind, crossing in 1:57.04 for sixth place.
The duo flipped positions earlier in the day in the 1500m, with Denlinger taking silver and All-ODAC Second Team recognition with a finish in 3:57.04. It set a new PR by less than a second. Thibodeaux then crossed fourth in 3:58.72, also setting his PR but by just more than a second.
Both relay teams had one of the top finishes in EMU history. The 4x400m relay squad of Faint, Hunter Sampson (Salem, Va./Salem), Denlinger and Bush earned second place and All-ODOAC Second Team status with a finish of 3:20.48. Then in the 4x100m, Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot), Robinson, Justin Bradley (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods) and Nuriddin Abdus-Salaam (Charlotte Court House, Va./Randolph Henry) claimed fourth place in 43.28 seconds.
Amoateng had solid efforts in the jumps, taking fifth in the long jump at 6.50m (21-4ft) and sixth in the triple jump at 13.10m (42-11.75ft). Both distances were outdoor PRs for the freshman.
Jared Nisly (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) had a sixth-place finish in the 3000m steeplechase, crossing in 10:06.68 for his best time of the year.
In the 400m, junior Terry Dotson (Appomattox, Va./Appomattox) peaked at the right time. He staked his PR in the preliminaries at 50.50 seconds, and then finished seventh in the finals at 50.97.
The men racked up 82 points to comfortably take fourth place as a team.
Eastern Mennonite swept the ODAC's academic awards, as Tyler Denlinger and Hannah Chappell-Dick each repeated awards as ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Scholar-Athletes. For Denlinger, this is the junior's third Scholar-Athlete award after winning it each of the past two indoor seasons. He is five-time All-ODAC honoree who holds a 3.98 GPA as a biology (pre-med) major. Chappell-Dick, meanwhile, wins her sixth consecutive Scholar-Athlete title, winning each of the cross country, indoor and outdoor titles from her junior and senior seasons. She carries a 3.84 GPA as a biology major and is a four-time All-American.