Lincoln men break marks

It seems only fitting that in the first home track meet held at Lincoln University in 15 years, the Blue Tigers beat some records that were set even longer ago.

Jermaine Blake was part of two record-setting efforts Sunday for the Lincoln men — one as an individual and one on a relay — during the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

In the men’s 800-meter run, Blake won in a time of 1:50.00, breaking the mark of 1:50.22 posted by Southeast Missouri State’s Carl Bell back in 1984.

“I’m feeling great about the 800, because that’s my favorite event,” Blake said. “It was just a pretty good day, the weather was pretty good, so it was nice to come out here.”

The senior from Manchester, Jamaica, said he wasn’t too concerned about getting so close to a sub-1:50 time.

“I’m grateful for it, because I didn’t know I was at the point where I could run 1:50,” he said.

Blake also had a hand in the 4x400-meter relay team that won in a meet-record time. He teamed with Winston Edwards, Michael Ashley and Roger Blake to turn in a mark of 3:10.12 that beat the 3:10.64 set in 1987 by Southeast Missouri State.

“It was nice to be at home, in the first (MIAA track) championship hosted by Lincoln University,” he said. “We got our students to come and support us, so it was a pretty good day.”

Another highlight for Lincoln came from senior Romel Lewis, who was the men’s high scorer in the meet with 22.5 points. He took first in the 100-meter dash (10.36) and 400-meter hurdles (51.26) and was part of the Blue Tigers’ winning effort in the 4x100-meter relay (40.37), teaming up with Wesley Best, Ashley and Romone Hill.

“I’m very excited, this is my last year and to go out with a bang like this is great,” he said. “I’m going into nationals so confident right now.”

But the native of West Palm Beach, Fla., said there’s room to improve before then.

“I feel I could have run so much faster in the 100,” he said. “I was feeling 10.0, but the headwind was pretty strong. And in the 4 hurdles, I feel like I didn’t run the first 200 the way I wanted to, but I was still able to get the win.”

And he had a little extra boost this weekend.

“The environment was good, I loved the crowd,” he said. “I was at home, so I had to put out for the home crowd. To hear the crowd cheering me during the final 50 meters going home, it was like I had a burst of energy.”

Those efforts helped the Blue Tigers finish fourth in the team race. Pittsburg State won its third straight championship with 145 points, while Nebraska Kearney was second with 118.25. Central Missouri was third in the 10-team race with 108, while Lincoln was right behind with 105.

“This year I didn’t start off so well, but today, on my home turf, I had to do what I could to help our team finish near the top,” Jermaine Blake said.

Lincoln head coach Victor Thomas said the Blue Tigers’ finish could have been even better. However, they missed out on some points after Stallone Watson, who had the top qualifying time in the 110-meter hurdles, was unable to run in the final after injuring his hamstring in the long jump. Also, Winston Edwards was disqualified while posting the second-best qualifying time in the prelims of the 400-meter hurdles.

“The guys did exceptionally well with the numbers that we had,” Thomas said. “If we hadn’t lost a couple, we would have finished second. … We lost some points with (Watson), who got hurt, and when (Winston Edwards) got DQ’d, that would have been 15 more points and we could have finished second.”

The Blue Tigers had three other competitors place in a pair of individual events, as Romone Hill was second in the 100-meter dash (10.58) and third in 200 (21.53), Ashley was second in the 400 (47.13) and seventh in 200 (21.89), and Best was fourth in 200 (21.61) and fifth in the 100 (10.81).

Also, Owen Smith was third in the triple jump (48-43/4), Roger Blake came in fourth in the 400-meter dash (47.67), Darran Hunter finished 10th in the high jump (6-4) and Hampton Mason placed 21st in the shot put (42-1 ½).

One other meet record came into play on the men’s side, as Southwest Baptist’s William Shell tied the mark of 46.31 in the men’s 400-meter dash set by Pittsburg State’s Dinsdale Morgan in 1996.

Among other action at the event, Missouri Southern’s William Rush, a graduate of Linn High School, placed third in the 1,500-meter run (3:55.46).

“At first I was a little disappointed, but realizing I’m only a freshman, I’m pretty pleased,” Rush said.

Rush, who said his strategy going in was to stay in the top five and then out-kick someone at the end, said Sunday’s warm temperatures didn’t affect him much.

“It was hot on the track, but with all the adrenaline going through you, you’re not even focused on it,” he said.

Another former Linn Wildcat, Northwest Missouri’s David Nilges, finished 15th in the 5,000-meter run (16:06.64).

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