AKRON, Ohio – For the second consecutive year, University of Akron Athletics has won the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge, claiming a 7.5 to 6.5 victory over Kent State.
The intense Akron-Kent State rivalry came down to the final Mid-American Conference Championship weekend as the Zips men's and women's outdoor track and field teams claimed the final two points for the Wagon Wheel title win.
In addition, it was the seventh outdoor MAC track and field championship for both the men and the women, but first time in program history in which the Zips have swept the men's and women's team championships during both the indoor and outdoor campaigns, earning four points towards the rivalry challenge.
"I'm thrilled for our student-athletes," said Larry Williams, Akron Director of Athletics. "The community thrives on the rivalry between Akron and Kent State. We are thankful to the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center for sponsoring this yearly event, and we look forward to the challenge again next year."
Akron's football team started the scoring for the Zips on Oct. 1 with a 31-27 victory at Dix Stadium. The football squad earned one point for the win, and women's volleyball added a half point to the cause on Oct. 28. The men's and women's cross country teams each added a point at the MAC Championship meet on Oct. 29 to round out the fall scoring.
Kent State earned points for volleyball (0.5), women's soccer (1.0), women's basketball (1.0), men's basketball (1.0), softball (1.0), women's golf (1.0), and men's golf (1.0).
"Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center is proud to be a part of this long-standing tradition. We congratulate the University of Akron on winning the Wagon Wheel Challenge this year," said Ronald Suntken, EdD, FACMPE, president and CEO of the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center.
The multi-sport competition between the Zips and the Golden Flashes began during the 2011-12 academic year. KSU won the first four challenges, while the Zips have captured the last two.
The Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge is based on a time-honored competition for an historic wooden wagon wheel trophy awarded originally in 1945 to the winner of the annual Akron-Kent State football game. Since the 2011-12 academic year, the rivalry was broadened to include 14 NCAA varsity sports, with victories in each sport adding one point to the challenge standings.
Fans can learn more about the rivalry and follow the results and standings via www.WagonWheelChallenge.com.
According to legend, the "Wagon Wheel" trophy traces its beginnings to the spring of 1870 when Akron industrialist John R. Buchtel set out for the town of Kent in search of a site to establish a college. In the muddy Ohio fields, however, his wagon became bogged down in the area where Kent State University is currently located. When horses pulled the wagon, a wheel came loose and became buried until it was discovered in 1902 during the construction of a pipeline along the Western Reserve Trail.
The wheel eventually fell into the possession of Dr. Raymond Manchester, who as the Kent State Dean of Men in 1945, suggested the local historic artifact be offered as the trophy to the winner of the annual Akron-Kent State football game. Through the 2016 game, Kent State leads the series 23–22–1 in Wagon Wheel games. Dating to 1923, Akron leads the all-time series on the gridiron, 33-24-2.
IMG College is the sponsorship and multi-media rights holder for both Akron and Kent State athletics, as well as The Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge.
Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge History
2016-17 Akron 7.5, Kent State 6.5
2015-16 Akron 7.5, Kent State 6.5
2014-15 Kent State 8.0, Akron 7.0
2013-14 Kent State 8.5, Akron 6.5
2012-13 Kent State 8.0, Akron 7.0
2011-12 Kent State 9.0, Akron 6.0