The University of Findlay men's and women's track and field teams may not have taken home team titles, but on the final day of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC) Track and Field Championships, the Oilers electrified the crowds inside the Koehler Center and proved that many of the league's most elite athletes were in black and orange.
The first big shockwave of the day for Findlay was sent by the Oilers electrifying freshman Xavier Marable. Participating in the men's 400 meter dash, Marable entered Saturday's finals after posting the fastest time in the prelims by more than a full second. Through one lap, the Clayton, Ohio native was in second place, but he turned on the jets for his final 200 meters to finish in a fieldhouse record time of 47.86 to win his first ever G-MAC championship. The time, which is converted to a 47.11, automatically qualifies him for the national championship meet, is the fastest of any freshman in the country, and is the fourth-fastest time in the country this season.
Marable would later take silver in a loaded 200 meter dash final. The top three spots in the meet were separated by three-hundredths of second as the winner crossed in 22.13, Marable crossed in 22.14, and the bronze medalist crossed in 22.15. All three times broke the former meet record.
Immediately following Marable's win in the 400m, junior Semoy Hemmings showed off her speed as well as she earned the title in a meet record time of 55.86, almost a full second ahead of the runner-up. Junior Jenna Shipman finished fifth in that race with a time of 58.46. Hemmings' time broke a 12-year old school record of 56.23 which was set in 2007 by Daniell Grochowalski.
With the speed that was flying around the 200 meter track, the event that captured the attention of everyone in attendance was the men's shot put. In a field that featured some of the top talent in the country, all eyes were on one man every time he stepped in the ring. Findlay junior Eldred Henry captured the headlines when, on his third throw of the finals, he reached a distance of 20.61m (67-7.5) which broke the NCAA Division II record set in 2014 by Minnesota State's Christopher Reed. Not only did that throw establish new national, conference, school, and meet records, but it is the 19th-best throw in the world this year. With each of his next three throws, fans flocked to the ring to watch the British Virgin Islands native compete. His next two throws ended in fouls while his third sailed 19.03m (62-5.25), his second-best throw of the day, which still would have been enou gh to capture the league championship. Henry would exit the ring with no more than a slight grin.
Getting lost in the headline was the performance of seniors Daquan Lovell and Austin Combs who finished in fourth and sixth in the event. Lovell had a throw of 17.30m (56-9.25) while Combs reach 17.02m (55-10.25), both of which are NCAA provisional qualifying distances.
In the women's shot put, junior Hannah Hahler was Findlay's top finisher as she secured a silver medal with a provisional qualifying throw of 14.35m (47-1.0).
The Oilers again put their freshman on display in the men's triple jump when Cincinnati, Ohio native Justin Dreyling took gold in his first G-MAC Championship meet when, on his final jump, he took the top spot with a distance of 14.34m (47-0.75). Dreyling leaped past teammate, sophomore Martin Etsey who claimed silver with a jump of 14.20m (46-7.25).
In the women's pole vault, freshman Meadow Cromer, also participating in her first G-MAC Championship meet, earned a silver medal as the runner-up in the event. She reached a height of 3.59m (11-9.25), clearing three consecutive heights on just one attempt each. Her efforts met the NCAA provisional in the event.
Freshman Hayley Robinett also found the podium for Findlay as she earned a bronze medal in the 800 meter run. She crossed the finish line in a time of 2:17.07.
Wrapping up an energetic weekend was the 4x400m relays. On the men's side, Findlay's team of junior Lenell Shelby III, freshman Lane Kolb, sophomore Seth Saylor, and junior Gavin Stepansky combined to finish the event in a time of 3:22.29 to claim a spot on the podium.
At the conclusion of the meet, the conference's coaches voted on the athletes of the meet. Of the six awards given, three were earned by Findlay athletes.
Hannah Hahler added to her stellar career by earning Women's Field Athlete of the Meet, the second consecutive year the Oilers have taken home that honor (Alex DeVincentis won in 2017-18). Walsh's Andra Lehotay earned Track Athlete of the Meet while Hillsdale's Kajsa Johansson took Freshman of the Meet honors.
On the men's side, Xavier Marable was rewarded for his incredible meet by earning Men's Freshman Athlete of the Meet. Men's Field Athlete of the Meet was never in doubt as Eldred Henry accepted that award, finally cracking a smile as he took the podium. Hillsdale's Joseph Humes earned Track Athlete of the Meet.
Tiffin, which rolled into Findlay with 110 athletes competing in the 34 combined events, used a 'strength-in-numbers' strategy to take home both the men's and women's team championship trophies. The Oilers men finished runner-up in the team standings while the women ended in sixth.
The Oilers will now await final selections for the NCAA DII National Championship meet which will take place on March 9-10 in Pittsburgh, Kansas.