T&F: Bearcats Set to Compete at Jesse Owens Track Classic
April 20, 2017

Bearcats Notes (pdf) - includes updated statistics/records

Following their second of two home events over the weekend, the University of Cincinnati track and field team is set to return to the road this weekend as they travel north to Columbus for the Jesse Owens Track Classic that will take place Friday and Saturday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on the Ohio State campus.

Along with a full recap of each day’s action that will be posted on GoBearcats.com, the team’s social accounts also will provide periodic updates, including Twitter (@GoBearcatsTFXC), Instagram (GoBearcatsTFXC) and Facebook (Cincinnati Track & Field/Cross Country). Live.FinishTiming.com will have live result updates throughout the meet.

Several collegiate and post-collegiate/club teams comprise this weekend’s meet. The collegiate teams that will be represented include: Cincinnati, Ohio State, Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, California (Pa.), Cedarville, Central State, Dayton, Denison, Eastern Michigan, Findlay, Hillsdale, Kent State, Kentucky, Lourdes, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Michigan State, Murray State, Notre Dame (Ohio), Oakland, Oberlin, Ohio, Ohio Wesleyan, Point Park, Rio Grande, Seton Hill, Ursuline (Ohio), Waynesburg, Western Michigan, Wheeling Jesuit, Wright State and Youngstown State.

  2 - Number of UC records Annette Echikunwoke broke over the weekend (hammer & shot put)
  3 - Weeks in a row Macklin Tudor has been named the American’s male field athlete of the week
  3 - Number of events the Bearcats swept at the All-Ohio Championships (high jump, pole vault, shot put)
  4 - Prep standouts that recently signed National Letters of Intent to join the Bearcats for 2017-18
  5 - Number of marks recorded by the Bearcats last weekend that ranked among the Top 10 of the week nationally
  7 - Number of marks held by Bearcats that rank in the national Top 25 (3 women, 4 men)
  8 - Number of marks that currently lead the American Athletic Conference (5 women, 3 men)
12 - Marks held by Bearcats that rank in the Top 48 of the NCAA East Region (Top 48 qualify to regionals later)
14 - Number of event titles won at the All-Ohio Championships by the Bearcats (9 women, 5 men)
41 - Number of marks recorded by Bearcats that rank in the conference’s Top 8 (23 women, 18 men)

... because she just keeps breaking records! Two weeks ago at Auburn, Echikunwoke broke her own school record in the hammer throw, improving the mark by 9”. Then, last weekend happened: she smashed her record by 5’ 6” and became the first Bearcat to throw in the 63 meter range, hitting a mark of 63.91m (209-08). But, she was not done there. The next day, she stepped into the shot put ring and launched the ball out to 16.79m (55-01.00), improving her personal best by 3’ 10.25” and jumping from third all-time in UC history into the top spot. She now has three records, including the indoor weight throw and the outdoor hammer and shot put events.

For the third week in a row, Macklin Tudor was named the American Athletic Conference male field athlete of the week. While Tudor didn’t break school records in two events for the second week in a row, he did manage to remain undefeated in the discus with a winning toss of 59.34m (194-08) while adding the win in the shot put with a best of 18.18m (59-07.75). Tudor’s win in the discus also gave him a meet record that had stood for 13 years after John Schulte (Ashland) threw 58.01m (190-04) in 2004.

The spring national signing period opened last week with the Bearcats adding four more individuals to National Letters of Intent and raising the 2016-17 signing class to 10 total individuals after six signed back in the fall. The newest additions to the class include Sam Mikula (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Watterson HS), who will join the women’s distance program, and three men’s athletes, including Connor Duricky (Mentor, Ohio/Lake Catholic HS) in the short sprints and hurdles; Jeremy Hayton (Hillsboro, Ohio/Hillsboro HS) in the high jump; and Cannon Riddle (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby HS) in the high and long jumps.

The Bearcats women won the team title in the Division I standings of the All-Ohio Outdoor Championships that UC hosted last weekend while the men took second to Miami. Overall, UC student-athletes combined to win 14 total events, including nine by the women and five from the men. Included in that total was a clean sweep of three events as Bearcats won the men’s and women’s high jump, pole vault and shot put competitions. Irati Mitxelena (long and triple jumps) and Annette Echikunwoke (hammer and shot put) for the women and Macklin Tudor (shot put and discus) for the men each won multiple events on the weekend.

Since the first outdoor iteration of the meet in 1987, the Bearcats have taken part in the All-Ohio meet on various occasions while also serving as the meet’s host, most recently in 2014, which also was the last time UC competed in the outdoor meet. Throughout its time competing, UC has now captured five team titles as the men won crowns in 2004 and 2010 while the women went back-to-back as they won in both 2011 and 2012 before taking the 2017 title. Combined, the Bearcats have won 131 event titles, including 76 by the men and 55 from the women. All told, UC has been victorious 109 times in individual events (67 men/42 women) while adding 22 relay crowns (13 women/9 men).

Entering the 2017 All-Ohio, UC had a small list of events it had not won individual titles as competitors in the All-Ohio meet. Following the weekend, that number shrunk as the men have now captured at least one title in every event while the women whittled their list from six events down to two. On the men’s side, Macklin Tudor won the discus to knock-off the final event the men had not yet won. For the women, Annette Echikunwoke took care of two events by winning the shot put and hammer while Juliana Madiza won the 10,000m run and Irati Mitxelena captured the triple jump. Now, the only two events the UC have not won an All-Ohio title stand as the 1,500m run and the discus.

Not only did Macklin Tudor win the discus to mark the final event UC’s men had not won in its history at the All-Ohio Championships, Tudor did so by breaking the meet record. The Bearcats senior - on Senior Day - threw 59.34m (194-08) to take home the title and rewrite the meet record that had stood for 13 years since John Schulte (Ashland) threw 58.01m (190-04) in 2004.

Switching gears to this week’s event in Columbus, the Jesse Owens Track Classic has seen its share of remarkable marks. In 2013, Cincinnati’s Mackenzie Fields cleared 4.35m (14-03.25) to not only win the title, but set the meet record and, at the time, the facility record (later broken in 2015 at 14-05.25). That day, Fields not only won the meet, she also broke her own school record and became the first UC woman to clear 14’. Since then, the closest any Bearcat has come to that clearance was last year when Alyssa McBride cleared 4.25m (13-011.25).

Last week, two Bearcats recorded five total marks that ranked among the Top 10 for the week nationally. Loretta Blaut won the high jump with a season-best clearance of 1.81m, which tied for the best in the nation last week with five other women. Annette Echikunwoke posted the remaining four marks with two each coming in the hammer and the shot put. Her winning hammer mark of 63.91m was the fourth-best nationally while her throw of 63.45m two rounds later was the fifth-best in the NCAA. Switching over to the shot put, her winning mark of 16.79m was the sixth-best in the nation and her earlier throw of 16.61m was the eighth-best.

Not only did Echikunwoke break two school records, she also had a big PR in the discus to move up to #8 on the program’s all-time Top 10 list. With her toss of 46.43m (152-04), she not only got onto the Top 10 list for the first time in the discus, but also posted an improvement of 10’ 4” over her previous PR. Add in her 3’ 10.25” PR in the shot put and her 5’ 6” PR in the hammer and Echikunwoke improved in all three events by a total of 19’ 8.75” on the weekend. Also, since the start of last season (2016 outdoor) when Echikunwoke entered the year with a best of 49.79m and the school record stood at 56.84m, she has continued to blow both of those marks away. With her latest big throw, she has now improved by 46’ 4” on her own PR since the opening of last year’s outdoor competitions and has bettered the previous school record by 23’ 2” at the same time.

Tiona Lattimore is have a very strong rookie campaign on the outdoor track surface as the freshman from nearby Hughes High School has not only been a strong contributor with her fast times, but also has added her name to the all-time Top 10 lists in four events. Individually, she ran 23.89 last weekend in the 200m dash to post the fastest time this year by a UC woman, a time that not only ranks her sixth all-time in UC history, but also earns her a berth into the U.S. Junior National Championships later this summer. Lattimore currently ranks eighth on UC’s Top 10 charts in both the 100m dash (11.94) and 400m dash (55.02), the second-fastest marks on the team this year, while also anchoring the sixth-fastest 4x100m relay team in school history that ran 45.20 to open the year.

Not only did Loretta Blaut have one of the top clearances in the nation over the weekend, but her mark of 1.81m won her the All-Ohio title and kept her on a hot streak of late. In four meets this season, Blaut has won the high jump all four times and has improved her season-best mark in each of the last two meets. At 1.81m, she is currently just 1cm off her career outdoor best, which also ranks fourth in UC history.

Three men and four women have combined to record eight marks that currently lead the American Athletic Conference with just three weeks remaining before the conference meet takes place. On the women’s side, Annette Echikunwoke leads the way in the hammer and the shot put while Bryana Robinson is first in the 400m dash, Loretta Blaut is on top of the high jump list and Naomi Urbano leads in the heptathlon. On the men’s side, Adrian Valles is the pole vault leader while Macklin Tudor holds the top discus mark and Alex Bloom is the leader in the decathlon.

Following last weekend, several Bearcats moved up the national ranking lists, giving UC two women and three men placement in the national Top 30 in their respective events. The men have Macklin Tudor ranked in two events as he is second overall in the discus and 16th in the shot put while Alex Bloom also is pulling double duty as he is 21st in the decathlon and 28th in the high jump. Adrian Valles currently is tied for 10th in the pole vault. On the women’s side, Annette Echikunwoke is ranked 11th in the hammer and 15th in the shot put while Loretta Blaut is tied for 12th in the high jump.

Adrian Valles and Macklin Tudor also currently hold marks that rank them among the Top 20 in the world. Through last weekend, Valles’ clearance of 5.50m has him ranked tied for 16th in the pole vault while Tudor’s toss of 61.74m in the discus has him tied for 18th internationally.

So far in 2017, Naomi Urbano has competed in the multi-events three times, including twice in the indoor pentathlon and once in the outdoor heptathlon. She has won all three of those events, including the 2017 American Athletic Conference pentathlon title, her first league crown. Last weekend, Urbano score 4,918 points to win the All-Ohio heptathlon title and improve her PR by 461 points while climbing to the #7 position on the program’s all-time Top 10. She did so with PRs in all seven events with six of those marks finding placement on the program’s heptathlon Top 10 charts. Urbano currently leads the conference by 246 points.

Entering the season, Grace Winckowski’s personal best in the 400m hurdles was 1:09.02. This year, she has raced in the event three times and lowered her PR each time, bettering her former PR by a total of 3.73 seconds after running 1:03.60 last weekend at the All-Ohio Championships. Not only has she dropped her times to 1:05.29 in her first race of the year to 1:04.22 at Auburn to 1:03.60 last weekend, her latest time also places her in the program’s all-time list at #10.

Another quarter-miler also has seen a great deal of improvement from last year to this year as Sylvana Ross also continues to lower her time. Entering the season, Ross carried an outdoor best of 1:00.48. So far this year, she has lowered that time three times, including running a PR 56.95 at the All-Ohio Championships last weekend. That time not only marks the third time she broken 60 seconds this year, but also is a 3.53-second improvement over last year’s PR.

Earlier this week, the ONE TEAM Honors were announced with Juliana Madzia being tabbed for a pair of high honors. Madzia, an all-conference honoree in cross country, was named the Nancy Hamant Scholar-Athlete of the Year, which is given to the senior athlete with the highest GPA, and the Helen Norman Smith Award, which is given to the top senior athletes (one male and one female) that have demonstrated over the course of his/her career the following characteristics: academic achievement; outstanding contributions and/or excellence in athletic performance; and documented community service, all of which she has excelled greatly in. Madzia is set to graduate this semester and plans to pursue her MD/PhD in social epidemiology.

In what has seemingly become a habit of his, Alex Bloom went off at the Bulldog Decathlon event in Athens, Ga., April 8-9, as the junior posted personal-best marks in 9-of-10 decathlon events and added three more PRs in the scoring breakdowns for all-time bests in 12-of-13 possibilities, including a final total of 7,329 points, the third-most in UC history. Among the record book entries, Bloom also broke the school’s decathlon 100m dash time (11.11) and broke the first day scoring total (3,979 points) while recording six other Top 10 marks, most notably his high jump clearance (more below) of 2.14m (7-00.25), the school’s decathlon record and tied for the fourth-best clearance in UC history overall. On the first day, Bloom recorded PRs in all five events with this marks in the 100m dash, long jump, shot put and high jump, ranking among the all-time Top 10 in the decathlon at UC. Day Two saw four more PRs and two more marks added to the decathlon Top 10, including the 110m hurdles and pole vault. All told, Bloom’s overall score currently leads the American Athletic Conference and ranks him 12th nationally, placing him in a solid position to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships for the first time in his career (decathlon does not compete at the regional meet, rather the Top 24 in the nation advance automatically to the outdoor finals in Eugene, Ore.).

Do you want know how well Alex Bloom has done this year in the high jump? Think of your standard door frame... from the floor to the top of the frame, the height is 6’ 8”. Think of Nysier Brooks, a member of the UC basketball, who stands 6’ 11”. So far this year, both indoors and out, Bloom has posted high jump clearances over both. This past weekend in Georgia, Bloom cleared 2.14m, which measures to 7’ 0.25”. That is 4.25” over a standard door frame and 1.25” over Brooks. When looking at the record books, Bloom is now just the seventh man in UC history to clear 7’ indoors and outdoors and joins Brandon Fitch as the only Bearcats to clear 2.14m in competition both indoors and outdoors in a career. The indoor record holder at 2.16m (7-01.00), Bloom is now tied for fourth on the outdoor chart as well as the school record holder in the high jump portion of both the indoor heptathlon and the outdoor decathlon.

Much like she did throughout the entire indoor season, Annette Echikunwoke not only put together a consistent competition, but also was able to find her way to the top step of the podium as she won the 2017 NCAA title in the women’s weight throw on March 11, capping a season in which she won all but one meet she competed. The two-time American Athletic Conference indoor champion in the same event, Echikunwoke opened the meet with a toss of 21.87m (71-09.00), which essentially won her the national title as no one was able to surpass that mark. After two fouls to close out the preliminary round, Echikunwoke was still in the lead and hit a toss of 21.81m (71-06.75), which also would have won the meet as the sixth and final round of throws saw the second and third-place finishers each pop marks of 21.74m (71-04.00), the closest anyone would get to the Bearcat junior. With the title in hand, Echikunwoke entered the ring for her final throw and upped her lead to 22.42m (73-06.75), her seventh throw of 22 meters or better this year, to put an exclamation point on her victory. She will make her outdoor season debut this weekend at home, competing in the shot put, discus and hammer (her signature event) at the Oliver Nikoloff Open.

With the title, Echikunwoke became the first member of the program to capture an NCAA title and just the fifth UC student-athlete to do so in any individual competition in Bearcats history. Echikunwoke’s title is the first for UC since Josh Schneider won the men’s 50 freestyle title at the 2012 NCAA Swimming Championships and the just the second crown won by a woman after Becky Ruehl captured the platform event at the 1996 NCAA Diving Championships. Echikunwoke’s finish also surpasses the previous best placements in program history that were held by Al Lanier, who was the highest national finisher for UC track and field with runner-up showings in the long jump at the 1972 and 1973 indoor and outdoor meets (four-time runner-up nationally). She also surpassed Kathy Klump, who’s fourth-place showing in the 800m run at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships was previously the best national finish for a UC woman in program history.

During the indoor season, Adrian Valles was named the 2016-17 American Athletic Conference Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the 2016-17 academic year, earning the top academic honor in the league among male student-athletes. Valles was Cincinnati’s nominee and received a $2,000 postgraduate scholarship before adding $2,000 to that total after being chosen by the American Athletic Conference Academic Affairs Committee as the scholar-athlete of the year among each of the 11 institution’s honorees. Also, Valles, an industrial management major, was recently selected as the Student-Athlete of the Month for March by UC Student-Athlete Support Services (S.A.S.S.).

Earlier this season, distance runner Juliana Madzia was tabbed by the league as the female recipient of the Commissioner’s Postgraduate Leadership Award. Given annually to one male and one female student-athlete from an American Athletic Conference-sponsored sport, each recipient was selected base on demonstrating leadership through excellence in academic credentials, athletic performance and depth of commitment to service within the institution/community while also having been admitted into a degree-granting or professional program for the next academic year. Madzia currently maintains a 4.00 GPA and holds several academic honors, including being named a Rhodes Scholarship finalist, induction into Phi Beta Kappa and Omicron Delta Kappa honors societies and working as a student researcher at UC, all while earning all-conference honors in cross country. For her efforts and selection for the award, Madzia, who plans to pursue a postgraduate track in medicine, will receive $5,000 in scholarships to help pursue her postgraduate goals.

The number of meets before the conference meet continue to dwindle as the Bearcats will be just two weeks out from the American Athletic Conference Championships when they send competitors to a pair of meets next weekend. A handful of individuals will travel to Philadelphia, Pa., where they will compete in the Penn Relays while the rest of those competing will venture south to Louisville, Ky., to take part in the Louisville Invitational.