Barber

AKRON, Ohio -- Akron claimed its third consecutive Mid-American Conference Outdoor championship and fifth outdoor title in six seasons on Saturday at Lee R. Jackson Track and Field Complex.

The Zips are the first men's program to win three consecutive MAC outdoor championships in the league since 1999.

A force throughout the course of the three-day meet, senior Nick Banke was named MAC Most Valuable Performer after tallying 26 points for the men's team. He captured the second MAC title of his career Saturday, winning the discus with a mark of 182-09 and finished runner-up in the shot put and hammer Friday.

Freshman Shawn Barber, the league's indoor champion in the pole vault, made it a clean sweep Saturday by winning the event with a championship meet record jump of 17-08.50, which earned him the MAC's Most Outstanding Field Performance award.

In guiding the men's program to its fifth league crown, 18th-year head coach Dennis Mitchell was named MAC Men's Coach of the Year for the fifth time. In all, it is the 16th time Mitchell, who also serves as the head coach for the Zips women's team, has earned the league's top coaching honor.

Sophomore Martel Durant was Akron's third MAC Champion on the men's side Saturday, taking the high jump with a clearance of 6-11.00. It was a league sweep for Durant as well as he also claimed the MAC title at the indoor meet last February.

After trailing by 10 points to Kent State after the first two events of the meet, the Zips scored 59 points through the next four to take control and never looked back. In the end, Akron won the team title by 12 points with a three-day total of 195.

Akron received a huge lift from its pole vault trio of Barber, Joe Wesley and Shawn Light, who finished 1-3-4 to secure 21 points. Wesley went 17-00.75 to establish a personal record while Light jumped 16-06.75 to hold off the rest of the pack.

The Zips also scored 14 points in the high jump and 100-meter dash. A pair of freshmen sprinters, Vince Turnage (10.71) and Julius Ruby (10.82) finished second and fifth, respectively, in their event while John Dahlstrand joined Durant on the winner's podium in the high jump with a fifth-place finish and clearance of 6-08.00. Dahlstrand also scored three points in the triple jump (46-06.75).

Other men's runner-ups included Sean Weems (51.96) in the 400-meter hurdles and the 4x100 relay team of Weems, Nick Owens, Ruby and Turnage, which posted a collective time of 3:11.35.