Photo by Marlon Brink
The NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championship in Pittsburg, Kansas took place last Friday and Saturday and Wayne State men had three athletes and the women had two athletes compete in Nationals.
The three men’s qualifiers were sophomore Cade Kalkowski and junior Dylan Kaup both qualified in the weight throw and senior Robert Sullivan qualified in the heptathlon.
Sullivan set a new record for WSC in the heptathlon. He started out Saturday in 10th place with 2,829 points, but a fourth place finish with a time of 8.44 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles and a fifth place finish in pole vault (14’ 9”) moved him to seventh place entering the 1,000-meter run.
There were just four points separating Sullivan at seventh and a ninth place finish going into the final event.
Sullivan ended ninth overall with 5,221 points, which was 42 points shy of eighth place. This was the third season in a row for Sullivan to qualify in the heptathlon for the NCAA Division II Championship.
Kalkowski threw a personal best of 66’ 7 ¾” on Saturday for WSC in his final throw of the day to place seventh and receive All-American honors.
His first recorded throws had him in ninth place going into his final throw. That is when he unleashed his personal best mark. Kalkowski is the third thrower in WSC history to receive All-American honors in the weight throw, which include Ross Bunchek in 2011 and 2012 and Bryan Dunn in 2016.
Kaup also competed in the weight throw competition at Nationals and recorded his best throw of the day at 60’ 8 ½” and finished in 18th place.
McKenzie Sheil, redshirt freshman for WSC, competed in the weight throw competition against a few other throwers she had already competed against earlier this season. She produced throws of 54’ 11 ½”, 50’ 10” and 58’ 6”. Sheil finished 15th overall out of 17 qualified throwers.
“These women are the very best in all of Division II,” Sheil said. “Needless to say they are extremely good throwers and athletes in general. So I knew that I had to come out ready to compete with these women and go out and do my very best. Also knowing that I was there to compete alongside of them was eye opening to where I want to be in my career.”
Sheil stated that she was a bit nervous, but also excited to compete at the national level.
“After all meets there is always that little thought in your head that you could have done a little better and maybe if your form was a little cleaner you could have gotten a better place, and I had those thoughts for a while,” Sheil said. “But all in all being there was just amazing in itself. I still have three more years to get on podium so this year was a great first learning year for me.”
Sophomore Jadin Wagner took home 17th place out of 20 qualified throwers for shot put. She recorded her three throws at 45’ 7 ¼”, 46’ 2 ½” and 46’ 1 ½”. A mark of 49’ 9 3/4” was needed to advance to finals, which would have put her into the top nine spots.
Wagner had the 19th best mark entering Nationals and had never qualified for the Championship before.
“I am constantly reminding myself that there are improvements that need to be made and I think that’s what I strive for the most,” Wagner said. “It’s never about being the best, it about showing up and doing what I need to do.”
Wagner stated that being involved in the weight throw competition in nationals has helped her improve as a thrower.
“It’s an amazing experience [to compete in the national championship],” Wagner said. “I think competing at the national level early on in my athletic career makes other meets much easier to compete in. I do not get as nervous and I feel more relaxed. Coming into this meet I was nervous but not near as much as my first time competing at the national level in outdoor season last year.”
Wagner knew what kind of pressure competing at Nationals was, since she made it in outdoor season last year and it had also helped competing against some of the competition before this meet.
“I feel that each time I compete at the national level, it becomes much easier and I am able to control my nerves, relax and just throw,” Wagner said. “At a big meet like that, it is really nice to see familiar faces. It is very intimidating when you don’t know anyone there.”
The Wayne State men’s and women’s outdoor season will start on March 22- 23 at the Wildcat Classic.