As the calendar days turn from January to February we take a look at Eastern Illinois men's and women's track as they appear on course to win yet another Ohio Valley Conference Championship.
The men have been the dominant program in the OVC since joining in 1996-97 with 12 indoor championships to their credit and 11 outdoor titles. The Panthers have currently won two straight as they prepare to host the OVC Championships on Feb. 25-26 at Lantz Fieldhouse.
The EIU women have been developing into the top program in the league over the past couple of years taking home three of the last four indoor and outdoor championships. EIU has currently won two straight titles.
This past Saturday EIU hosted its annual Mega Meet picking up 11 first place individual finishes as the EIU men climbed to No. 11 in the Midwest Regional rankings. EIU will compete at the Illinois Intercollegiate this Saturday with regional teams Illinois (No. 1) and Southern Illinois (No. 6) slated to compete.
If the season ended today EIU would have first place finishes in eight of the sixteen scheduled events at the OVC Championships. Our guess is that Zye Boey would be named the OVC Male Athlete of the Championships as he holds the top times in the 60m and 200m. Boey is ranked nationally in both events. Mick Viken who would win the pole vault is also ranked nationally.
The women's title would be a little more difficult as the Panthers only would have three first place finishes based on current marks. EIU's Erika Ramos is first in the 800m while Abigail Schmitz has the best pole vault to date. Our guess for the athlete of the championships is wide open as no athlete has posted more than one individual first place time so far this season.
In only five short weeks our guesses will be put to the test when EIU hosts the OVC Championships with the Panthers looking to make it three straight titles for both the men and women.
P.S. -- Kudos to former EIU & Olympic triple jumper John Craft for being honored with a retired jersey on Saturday.