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Published: Thursday, 5/15/2008

BGSU dresses up Whittaker for MAC track

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN - The finish line is in sight for the Bowling Green State University track and field team.

But this finish line isn't the kind you lower your head and lunge through. Rather, the Falcons will pull out their proverbial scissors and cut through a ribbon that signifies a new beginning.

Today, for the first time in nine years, the Falcons will host a track meet - and a prestigious one at that. The Mid-American Conference championships are coming to Bowling Green, where Whittaker Track was unsuitable for competition for nearly a decade until now.

"I think it's going to be a little awkward seeing that we just practice on it," sophomore

Shantell Lewis said. "Now that we get to compete, it's going to be a good feeling."

A few more rows of bleachers will be wheeled in, and some minor maintenance must be done, but those are just minor details considering home meets have been absent since coach Cami Wells' first year at BG.

"We've been talking about the track since I was a freshman,"

senior Amanda Sefcik said. "We've been waiting for it to get here. This whole year that's all we've been talking about."

The meet will continue through tomorrow and Saturday. The men's championships will run simultaneously, although they may spark less interest from local fans as BG does not have a men's team. Hosting the MAC championships is on a rotation, and the meet was last held at BG 12 years ago. Knowing that this is BG's year to entertain league

opponents, Wells pushed to get the renovation project under way. Whittaker was an eyesore, its surface more suited for a cross country meet. The new track surface was applied just before the outdoor season began this spring.

"I think it makes a world of difference," junior Kara Butler said. "You get tired traveling in vans. You don't always sleep as well in a hotel. Being at home I can stay in my normal routine. There's less stress."

BG is not expected to contend for a championship, but several Falcons are seeded high in their respective events. Sabrina Forstein is sixth in pole vault, TaKarra Dunning is fourth in shot put, and Whitney Hartman and Lauren Bryant are third and sixth, respectively, in the hammer throw.

Sefcik is seeded 10th in long jump and feels "a lot better than earlier this year."

Lyndi Springer, who has the ninth-best mark in the steeplechase, wants to "go out with a bang" in what could be her final college meet.

"I feel a lot more relaxed when I'm at a home meet," Springer said. "I feel relaxed and excited at the same time because you're in familiar surroundings."



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