(Photo by Clinton Dick/Collegian photographer).

By Clinton Dick
Staff reporter

Work is cut out for the Richard L. Jantz Stadium for the first time since football season ended in November. The facility will host its first ever track and field meet on Thursday.

“When we get everything into place, it is going to be one of the best small college facilities in this part of the country,” said Jim Helmer, head men’s track coach. “It is always exciting and fun to compete at home and that is what makes this one so special is that it is the first.”

The Southwestern Invitational also kick starts the outdoor track and field season. It is the first meet since the national indoor championships March 3.

“We had a good indoor season,” said Mike Kirkland, head women’s track coach. “We developed some good consistency and I am looking for how quick that carries over into the outdoor season.”

The men’s team returns six national qualifiers from last outdoor season, while the women return four. Carrington Crum, elementary education junior, Chandler Kirkhart, business junior, Colton Siler, psychology junior, Conner Drendel, elementary education junior, Chris Copeland, psychology senior and Trevor Noel, digital arts sophomore, are the returning qualifiers on the men’s side. Anjaih Clemons, business administration senior, Taylor Kinnamon, business administration junior, Amy Pierson, nursing senior, and Jordan Unruh, nursing senior, were all qualifiers last year for the women.

Both Helmer and Kirkland say that, despite a strong nucleus of returners, the teams this year are very young.

“Over half of our team is freshmen and sophomores,” said Kirkland. “I’ve never placed a lot of emphasis that upperclassmen are the only ones who know how to compete. It is an athlete-by-athlete case and we have some freshmen and sophomores who are ready to step up and compete.”

Helmer agrees that the team is strong despite being young.

“We have a good group of athletes,” said Helmer. “The meet will be a learning experience and a chance to see where we are as of now.”

The meet is scheduled to still take place at the stadium even though the throwing area is not quite complete. Maintenance workers hit bedrock while drilling last week and instead of a permanent cage for the throwing area, a temporary one will be at use during the meet.

“It doesn’t bother me as long as I get to throw here,” said Allyssa Zentner, athletic training sophomore. “As long as it gets done in time, I am fine with whatever.”

As far as what competition to expect, Helmer says that it varies with when schools have their spring breaks. The meet is a week later than in previous years.

“Last year we had about eight schools,” said Helmer. “It is always a good meet, but doesn’t need to be a big meet.”

The meet is scheduled to start at 10 a.m.

Clinton Dick is a sophomore majoring in convergent journalism. You may  e-mail him at clinton.dick@sckans.edu.

Edited by Paige Carswell.