The indoor track and field season is in full swing. Strides were made by WSC athletes last Friday at the South Dakota State Invite in Brookings that gave athletes benchmarks with less than a month until the NSIC Championships in Mankato, Minnesota.
“We had some good performances in some different events there across the board,” head coach Marlon Brink said. “We thought we might have been a little bit sharper in some areas, but it’s a process and we’re getting our athletes to compete and peak at the end of the season.”
The meet featured 15 Division II schools, eight of those from the NSIC (Augustana, Concordia-St. Paul, Minot State, Minnesota State, Northern State, Sioux Falls and Southwest Minnesota State).
Success started early for Wayne State last Friday, as sophomore McKenzie Scheil placed third in the weight throw (59’ 8 ¼”) – which was an NCAA provisional mark. Scheil added a second-place finish in the shot put (44’ 7 ¾”) to set the tone for the Wildcats.
Other notable throwing finishes for the women included a 10th place finish from senior Tia Jones in the weight throw (53’ 4 ½”) and a 10th place mark for junior Kenzie Sullivan in the shot put (40’ 1 ¾”).
Junior Hannah Lazure placed seventh in the high jump, clearing 5’1”, while senior Kim Johnson added a seventh-place finish on the track with a 5:32.09 in the mile run.
Sophomore Jordyn Pester’s 26.82-second performance in the 200-meter dash was good for ninth place, and senior Joan Jelimo added a 10th-place finish for the Wildcats with a 2:24.68 in the 800-meter run.
Sophomore Allie Rosener and freshman Jade Rickard added notable performances in the 5,000-meter run, finishing 11th (18:32.26) and 12th (18:49.90), respectively.
“One of the things we’re really focused on is keeping [Rosener] healthy,” Brink said. “Last year, she had some lower leg issues and they kind of hampered her. This year, she has been able to train at a lot higher level, and I think she really understands the level of competitive racing now.“I didn’t think she believed me when I told her she could run under 19 (minutes) and she crushed that.”
On the men’s side, junior Ben Allen was the winner of the shot put, posting a throw of 51’ 8 ½”. Sophomore Mikhail Sands posted a third-place finish in the long jump (22’ ¼”) while sophomore Noah Lilly placed ninth in the pole vault (13’ 2 ¾”). Sophomore Aaron English added to the list of notable field event finishes, grabbing a tie for ninth in the high jump at 6’ ¾”.
On the track, senior Nathan Pearson earned sixth place in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:57.96, with junior Bryce Holcomb placing 10th with a time of 2:00.49.
“He (Pearson) has had a couple good races and this weekend I thought he had a pretty good race,” Brink said. “He ran pretty solid start to finish and I think he’s certainly capable of cropping more time as the season goes on.”
Junior Preston Davis finished eighth in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.70 seconds.
Brink said he is anticipating more athletes can approach NCAA provisional qualifying marks as the season continues, and this weekend’s meet will serve as a stepping stone to reaching end-of-the-season goals.
“Mankato is definitely an important meet for us; we typically go to this meet every year because the NSIC Championships follow four weeks later there,” Brink said. “We’ll get a little bit of familiarity with the facility and there’s always really good competition there.”
On the track and in the field, Wildcat student-athletes have performed at a high level, but the performance in the classroom has also been an area where Wildcats are leaving their mark.
This past fall, according to Brink, the men’s cross country team compiled a 3.82 GPA and the women earned a 3.75 team GPA, marks that are as high, if not, higher, than he can remember. Cross country athletes also compete in track, and more of the same academic achievements are expected this spring.
“We try to stress to them that they need to be focused on getting their degree and, while everyone wants to do well in athletics, the real priority is to do well in the classroom first,” Brink said. “They’re doing a really good job of balancing their athletics and academics. The entire athletic department at Wayne State does a great job.”
WSC Track and Field will be in action this Friday and Saturday at the Minnesota State Open in Mankato.