Eastern Ill., Tennessee St. repeat as meet champions

Sunday, May 5, 2002

Eastern Illinois' men and Tennessee State's women were expected to successfully defend their titles in the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

They didn't disappoint during the event that concluded Saturday in Cape Girardeau.

The Panthers captured their sixth straight OVC outdoor championship, scoring 229 points to easily outdistance runner-up Southeast Missouri State University (158) in the six-team field.

"This has been our best meet of the year," EIU coach Tom Akers said. "We exceeded my expectations. The guys really rose to the occasion."

The Tigerbelles won their second straight OVC outdoor title, overcoming a first-day deficit and pulling away from runner-up Southeast. TSU scored 183 points to 146 for the Otahkians.

"Everybody came through when we needed it," said TSU coach Chandra Cheeseborough, a former Olympian. "We came up short in some events, but others stepped up."

Southeast coach Joey Haines said he was pleased with his teams, which finished second for the second straight season.

Haines knew it would take something unusual for either of the Southeast squads to upset the favorites.

"We ran really good, we threw really good and we jumped very well," Haines said. "I'm happy. I knew Tennessee State would have to mess up somewhere and they didn't. And Eastern Illinois just has so much depth."

EIU's depth was apparent -- the Panthers won just five events compared to six for the Indians, yet still rolled.

Akers and Cheeseborough both won OVC Coach of the Year in voting by the conference's coaches following the meet.

EIU's Ron White, who shattered the league's javelin record Friday with a 248-10 1/2 throw that is the best in the nation this season, was voted OVC Outdoor Male Athlete of the Year.

Austin Peay's Lauren Maul, who won the high jump, long jump and triple jump, was voted OVC Outdoor Female Athlete of the Year.

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