40 in 40 - 1985 Outdoor Track & Field MAC Championship
Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Title IX, wmubroncos.com takes a look at 40 key moments/females in the history of women's athletics at Western Michigan University. Though the selection process, an effort was made to highlight a moment and player/coach from each of our current women's sports programs, as well pay respect to our women's legacy sports. A different feature will be released each of the 40 days, July 24 through Sept. 1.
1985 MAC Championship
The Western Michigan women's track & field team has come very close to winning several Mid-American Conference titles. WMU has finished in the top three six times at the Indoor MAC Championship and seven times at the Outdoor MAC Championship but the stars aligned in 1985 when the Broncos took home the program's first Outdoor MAC Championship.
The event was actually hosted at WMU's Kanley Track & Field Complex, the second time it had hosted the event. The team had strong showings the past two outdoor championships, finishing runner up to Ohio in both 1983 and 1984. With the home-track advantage the Broncos crushed the competition, finishing with 135 points. Rivals Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan finished behind WMU with the Chippewas earning 92 points and the Eagles tallying 73. Ohio was far in the distance in sixth place, with the Broncos more than doubling their total of 63.
Western Michigan's Maria Shoup was named Co-Athlete of the Year after the meet. The future WMU Athletics Hall of Famer won three individual events and helped the 4x400 meter relay team to a MAC title. Shoup dominated in the 100 meter hurdles, 400 meter dash and 400 meter hurdles. In the 100 hurdles she took first place with a time of 14.02 seconds, a then school record that held for 12 years. In the 400 meter dash she took home the title with a time of 54.94 seconds, another Bronco record that stood for nearly a decade. In the 400 hurdles she edged out Ohio's Selina Christian by .06 seconds to take first place. Teammate Diana Alexander scored in both the 100 and 400 hurdles behind Shoup, taking third in the 100 and fifth in the 400.
Shoup wasn't the only multiple title winner that weekend for the Broncos. Field sensation Donna Wright took first place in the shot put and the discus, also scoring in the javelin with a fifth place finish. Her discus throw of 162-4 was a MAC and Kanley Track record. Fellow Bronco Jeannette Long finished in third place with a throw of 154-11. Long also finished in fourht place in the shot put behind Wright.
Future Hall of Famer Kayla Skelly crushed the WMU, MAC and Kanley Track 5,000 meter run record with a time of 16:48.93 to win a MAC title. Her time is still a program record. Another Bronco record fell that weekend as Shannon Pickell set the heptathlon mark with 4,520 points and finished third overall. That record held for 11 years until Phylis Brooks broke it in 1996.
Another future Hall of Famer, Maggie Lille-Smith, took third place in the 3,000 meter run with a time of 9:49.78. Kim Adent finished off the distance events with a strong showing in the 1,500 meter run, placing third with a time of 4:38.87.
Sprinter LaTonja Curry scored in two events for the Broncos, taking fourth in the 200 meter dash and sixth in the 100 meter dash. Chris Sharp, who was a part of the MAC title winning 4x400 squad along with Shoup, Alexander and Michelle Jesswein, just missed a MAC title in the 800 meter dash, finishing just .48 seconds shy of first place and settling for second.
In total the Broncos scored in 15 events that weekend to finish 43 points ahead of CMU to take the MAC Championship. The roster featured three student-athletes who are now in the WMU Athletics Hall of fame with Shoup, Skelly and Lille-Smith.