All that remains of the indoor track season is the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships. This event will be March 4 through 6 in Johnson City, Tenn. Until then, the athletes who qualified during the regular season will train up to face off against the top competitors in Division II athletics.
“They will be excited to compete,” said Jim Helmer, head men’s track coach. “We have a set training schedule. It is all carefully planned to get them as ready as possible.”
Those who have made automatic qualifications to the national meet in men’s track events include Jimmy Bryant, business education senior, in the 1000 meter, and Andrew Topham, chemistry junior, in the 5000 meter. Alex Hutchins, business administration senior, will compete in the 35# weight throw.
The competitors who have qualified in women’s track events consist of Jordan Unruh, nursing junior, in the 600 meter, and Amy Pierson, nursing junior, in the 800 meter, 1000 meter and mile run.
The women’s distance medley relay team of Pierson, Unruh, Anjaih Clemons, business junior, and Alyssa Carter, philosophy & religious studies senior, and the 4×400 meter relay team consisting of Pierson, Unruh, Clemons, and Kari Roth, psychology senior, also earned an automatic qualification.
In the women’s field events, Paige Carswell, journalism junior, qualified in the triple jump.
The track and field team closed out the regular season of indoor track Feb. 20 at Kansas State University. It was not only the last opportunity for competitors to qualify for nationals, but the first time since January that the team had not gone to the Oklahoma Christian Invitational in Norman, Okla.
“It seemed like a totally different track meet after we have seen the same place and virtually the same meet three times this season,” said Mike Kirkland, head women’s track coach. “They responded really well to it. I think they were kind of excited to see a new facility and different competitors. We got a chance to see some of our conference opponents that we haven’t had a chance to see this year.”
Unruh hit the automatic qualification for nationals in the 600 yard run, winning the event with a time of 1:29.77. She set a school record and is ranked 30th in the nation.
Roth finished right behind Unruh in the 600 yard run with a time of 1:31.11. Her time was six seconds off of her career best and was .11 seconds away from a provisional qualification.
The women’s 4×400 meter relay team of Pierson, Unruh, Clemons, and Roth finished third in their race with a time of 4:03.03. Their time locked up an automatic bid and was also the best time in the 4×400 meter relay since 1995.
Hutchins smashed the school record in the men’s 35# weight throw with a distance of 55’ 0’’. His distance also allowed him to lock up an automatic qualification and is currently 23rd in the nation.
In the mile run, Carrington Crum, elementary education sophomore, ran a 4:22.81. This was a provisional qualifying standard for nationals. His time is ranked 51st in the nation.
Conner Drendel, elementary education sophomore, also earned a B standard qualification as he ran a 2:32.37 in the 1000 meter run. His time is ranked 22nd in the nation.
The outdoor track and field season opens March 11 with the Southwestern College Invitational. Due to the stadium construction, the meet will be held at Cowley College.