By Clinton Dick
Both the men’s and women’s teams finished second in the Inaugural Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships Feb. 10 and 11 at Wichita State University.
They finished second to Friends University, who swept the title in both categories. Bethany College and Tabor College took third and fourth respectively amongst the nine conference teams competing.
“This was something that our conference commissioner had really been pushing for,” said Mike Kirkland, head women’s track coach. “Some of the schools have not pursued indoor track quite as aggressively as we have and this is a move, for lack of better words, to get others up to speed. We’ve taken indoor track serious because it just helps us as far as developing as a team into the outdoor season.”
During the meet, Kirkland received the Indoor Track and Field Women’s Coach of the Year award. “That is a reflection of the direction we are headed and the progress that the girls have made,” said Kirkland. “It is nice to be recognized by our peers, but I take it more as a reflection. I just get the girls to the starting line.”
Several Builders stood out at the meet, which took place Feb. 10-11 on the Wichita State University campus. “We would rather win than get second and that is always the goal, but I was really pleased with our performances,” said Jim Helmer, head men’s track coach. “It was a battle from start to finish.”
Colton Siler, psychology senior, took second in the men’s 60 meter dash with a time of 6.96 seconds. He finished second only to Clarence Anderson of Ottawa.
Colton McNinch, biology sophomore, snatched first place in the men’s 5000 meter run. He finished over nine seconds ahead of the pack with a time of 15:02.31 minutes. “Colton McNinch had an outstanding meet,” said Helmer. “He got an ‘A’ qualifying standard for nationals and beat an All-American.”
In the relays, the men’s team took first and second respectively in the distance medley relay and the 4×800 meter relay. The distance medley relay team, consisting of Trey Bruton, mathematics sophomore, Chris Copeland, psychology senior, Conner Barragree, biology freshman, and Sam McDaniel, business administration sophomore, finished with a time of 10:45.47 minutes. The team of McDaniel, Copeland, Barragree and Darnell Pitman, business administration junior, finished with a time of 8:00.25 minutes in the 4×800 meter relay. The 4×400 meter relay team also finished in second place for the Builders. The team comprised of Copeland, Kevin Rodgers, physical performance senior, Brandyn Williard, physical education sophomore, and Hunter Cline, undeclared freshman.
Rodgers finished second only to Ira Autrey of Bethany in the men’s long jump. “Kevin Rodgers was another highlight and got a qualifying standard for nationals,” said Helmer. His final distance was 7.06 meters. Rodgers also placed third in the triple jump with a distance of 13.64 meters.
Christine Sheppard, chemistry sophomore, had arguably one of the best performances individually. “She won the triple gold,” said Kirkland. “Both the 60 meter dash and 200 meter dash were career best times for her.” She blew the competition away in the women’s 60 meter dash. She was the only competitor to finish under eight seconds with a time of 7.94 seconds in the final heat to snatch first place. Her success at the championships didn’t end there. She also took first place in the women’s 200 meter dash with a time of 26.97 seconds. Sheppard aided in a first place finish by the women’s 4×400 meter relay team. The team was comprised of Sheppard, Taylor Sisneros, biology sophomore, Cori Hunt, business administration sophomore, and Rachel Busch, early childhood development freshman.
Kirkland said out of the distance runners, one caught attention. “Sydnee Nelson really stood out in the distance races,” said Kirkland. “She had three career bets in three races.” Nelson, biology junior, ran the mile run, 3000 meter run and the 5000 meter run. “Something that makes it a little bit more impressive is that she kind of broke up the Friends group. Friends has four or five distance girls who nobody really has an answer to. That is pretty tough to do.”
Rhea Rollins, physical performance junior, also topped the leader board in her event. She placed first in the women’s 60 meter hurdles with a time of 9.14 seconds. “She hit the automatic qualifying mark in the 60 meter hurdles and broke a school record as well as a KCAC meet record,” said Kirkland. “She came into the meet with a season best of 9.31 seconds.” Rollins also showed her skills in the jumping events, taking first place in the women’s long jump with a career best distance of 5.22 meters.
Kerisha Broadus, athletic training freshman, earned the second place spot in the women’s triple jump only to Emily Post of Tabor. “She made a big jump to get runner up,” said Kirkland. Broadus finished with at distance of 10.60 meters.
In the women’s shot put event, Mandy Bostwick, elementary education senior, Alyssa Zentner, athletic training junior, and Aushia Stump, physical education freshman, took second, third and fourth respectively. Bostwick led the charge with a distance of 11.22 meters. Zentner threw for 10.99 meters and Stump followed with a distance of 10.17 meters.
The Builders round out the indoor track regular season this Saturday with meets at Kansas State University and Nebraska. Most of the team will compete at Kansas State, while a few will travel farther north. “We won’t know until about Wednesday,” said Kirkland. “It is very difficult to get into the Nebraska meet because everybody is trying to get in there and it is a last chance meet before nationals.”
Clinton Dick is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org