It was a good week for EMU wrestling. The Eagles swept their three dual matches at the Wendy’s Duals by a combined score of 125-9, including a 53-0 shutout against Campbell. For his performance, sophomore Aaron Sulzer was named the MAC Wrestler of the Week. This weekend, the wrestlers will travel to Pennsylvania to face Edinboro and Clarion.
Well, let’s get it out of the way and start with the still-terrible, not-improving-one-whit men’s basketball team.
As expected, the Eagles lost their two games of the past week. First they fell 65-48 (without Brandon Bowdry) at Western Michigan. The Eagles did manage to keep it close for the first 26 minutes, even holding the lead for most of the first half, but the Broncos went on a seven minute 22-2 run in the middle of the second half to put the game well out of reach. Derek Thompson stepped up with 17 points—his sixth game in double-figures—but the next-highest scorers were Harris with 7 and then Stewart with 5 points.
Bowdry was back in the lineup for Wednesday’s home date against Ball State, but the Eagles only scored 3 more points than they had without him, losing 60-51. Bowdry gave a typical performance with 26 points and 6 rebounds, but that was more than the entire rest of the EMU team managed to score; the #2 scorer for the game was Dailey with 5, and Thompson, who continues to be the #2 scorer for the Eagles, managed just 1 (one!!!) point. You can find some nice photos of the game at Michigan Exposures
Despite these miserable performances, the Eagles are, miraculously, still not in last place in the MAC. Two East Division teams (Akron and Ohio) are 1-3 in the conference, as is Toledo, over whom EMU owns a win. This Sunday, the Eagles host Central Michigan (5-12, 2-2 MAC) in a winnable game, and next Wednesday they travel to Athens, Ohio, to face the Bobcats (8-10, 1-3 MAC) in, despite the records, a probably-not-winnable game.
EMU women’s basketball continues to outperform the men’s team. Saturday the Eagles dropped a home game to Toledo, 72-56, but they bounced back Wednesday with a 67-56 win at Western Michigan. Against the Broncos, Tavelyn James led the way with 23 points, while Cassie Schrock was also impressive with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 steals. With the win, the Eagles move to 12-7 and 3-2 in the MAC. That’s good for third place in the West Division, but the two teams they’re a game behind are the two teams they’ve lost to (Central Michigan and Toledo are both 4-1), so for all practical purposes EMU is two games out of the lead. Fortunately they now get a brief break from the divisional games, as all MAC teams will play across divisions for the next six games. Saturday evening, the Eagles travel to Akron (8-9, 1-4 MAC), followed by a home match against Ohio (5-13, 1-4). In fact, the next really tough opponent for the Eagles may not come until Groundhog Day, when they travel to East Division leader Kent State (14-3, 5-0 MAC).
EMU also recently announced that at halftime of the February 5 game against Buffalo, they will retire the #4 jersey of Laurie Byrd, the all-time leading scorer with 1,899 career points. Byrd also holds EMU career records in scoring average (19.2 ppg), field goals made (854), and field goals attempted (1,788). Her single-season scoring record of 602 stood until Tavelyn James broke it just last year. Byrd is currently an assistant coach in the WNBA, and she has truly had an amazing athletic career, so it surprised me to find that the 1982 graduate had not already had her jersey retired, but it seems that no EMU women’s basketball players have; Byrd will be the first.
The EMU gymnastics team kicked off their 2011 season last Sunday at Northern Illinois. You might recall that in the pre-season coaches’ poll, the Eagles, who finished third at last year’s MAC Championship, were picked to finish seventh — aka last — in the MAC, while the Huskies were expected to be right in the middle of the pack, at fourth. Fortunately, EMU is already exceeding expectations, as the Eagles earned a narrow win, 187.800-186.825, in DeKalb. Before you go penciling in a trip to Mount Pleasant for the MAC Championship, keep in mind that the Huskies were without Tanya Rachan, who was injured in practice last week, and two of Northern Illinois’ top gymnasts, Kim Gotlund and Jessica Watanabe, suffered injuries while vaulting. Watanabe was able to compete on the uneven bars (finishing eighth) but withdrew from the balance beam, while Gotlund withdrew from the three remaining events. Honestly, considering that the Huskies had three injured all-arounders and still nearly won, I’m not so impressed with EMU’s performance, but nevertheless, a win is a win.
Just as the vault proved to be Northern Illinois’ undoing, it was also EMU’s strength. For the Eagles, Nikole Viltz won the vault, with Kristina Kurkimilis in second, Taylor Patterson in fourth, and Kristen Yourick in fifth. In the other events, the highest Eagle finishes were third place on the uneven bars (Brittany Cassar), tied for third place on the balance beam (Tracie Tamashiro), and third place in the floor exercise (Nikole Viltz). Photos and videos from the event are online at Gymnastike.
This Sunday, the Eagles will travel to Normal, Illinois, for the Redbird Quad, where they will compete against event host Illinois State, University of Illinois-Chicago, and the defending MAC champion Central Michigan Chippewas. This figures to be a tough test for EMU; Central Michigan is 4-0, UIC is 1-1 (both against MAC foes), and Illinois State is 3-2.
Last Friday, the EMU women’s swimming and diving team downed Bowling Green, 158-136, for their first win of the season. EMU sophomore Briana Emig won four events, and was named the MAC Swimmer of the Week.
Unfortunately, the men’s swimming team did not fare as well, going up against #13 Michigan. In the Wolverines’ home opener, the Eagles fell 141-98. The bright spots for the Eagles were the 1- and 3-meter dives. Andrew Saunders won both events for EMU, and the Eagles swept the podium in the 1-meter dive.
This Saturday, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will return home to Jones Natatorium to face the Buffalo Bulls. As with the football series, the Eagles have pretty well owned the aquatics version of the Ontario Sandwich Trophy; the men are 12-0 all-time against the Bulls, while the women are 11-1. The meet starts at 1 pm.
Both the men’s and women’s track and field teams had solid outings last week. The women took first place in six events at the Bob Eubanks Open. Most notably, EMU runners took the top three spots in the 3,000-meter run, and the top four spots in the 200-meter dash. Meanwhile, the men defeated Central Michigan, Aquinas, Detroit and Oakland in the five-way dual meet Chip Invite, winning 10 events. Most notably, Terefe Ejigu posted national top-25 times in the 3,000-meter and one mile runs.
This weekend, the men and women will head to Ann Arbor for the Simmons-Harvey Invitational, hosted by the University of Michigan. The event starts at 11 am at the Indoor Track Building.
Finally, and not really athletics-related but still interesting, you can find an aerial view of EMU taken in 1930, at Ypsilanti history writer Laura Bien’s Dusty Diary blog. I guess if you must have an athletic connection, the old field near the corner of Washtenaw and Oakwood is visible.