Last winter the HC indoor track and field team served one of its best finishes at the national championships. The men’s team finished fifth, and the women’s team finished 30th. Seniors Ronnie Taylor and Gabe Wickham were national champions in their respective competitions.
This year, the Broncos will send a strong squad to Geneva, Ohio for the indoor championships.
On the men’s side, seven people qualified in six different events. On the women’s side, ten athletes qualified in nine different events.
Head coach Kendrick Clay said the men’s team is really strong, especially the throwers.
“A lot of people are probably aware that we graduated three of our top athletes in school history—four if you consider Garret Wickham,” Clay said. “And we didn’t lose a whole lot in terms of where we’re sitting in terms of the men’s weight throw, and that’s definitely a testament to Coach Osgood’s expertise.”
Hastings College has four athletes in the men’s weight throw: senior Chance Armstead and juniors Dalton Maisen, Tyler Rathke and Justin Roberts, and two throwers in the women’s weight throw: senior Abby Griffith and sophomore Jennifer Maag.
Clay said that this year is a key year for the program.
“What I’ve observed and what I addressed with our program yesterday is, as a whole, there are some athletes and some upperclassmen who need to put some things in perspective,” Clay said. “The end is drawing near through practices, and [there’s] not the level of competitive focus that you’d expect from some folks.”
Of the seven who qualified on the men’s side, four are seniors and three are juniors.
The women’s team is exactly the opposite. Of the ten who qualified, two are seniors, Audrey Gaspers is the only junior, six are sophomores and Courtney Mills is the only freshman.
Of the women, a few are already sitting in a good position. Mills is no. 1 in the country in the triple jump and Maag is third in the country in the shot put.
Clay is also excited about the 4×400 meter relay team, which includes Gaspers, Abby Niederklein, Abby Jackson, Erin Baldridge, Michelle Leichleiter, Porsche Parnell and Mills.
The relay team’s best time of the season is 4:03.81, which earns them 16th in the country.
“Abby Niederklein is a constant; Porsche Parnell has ran very well, but there are four or five other girls at least that have performed all year long,” Clay said.
The first event of nationals is the first leg of the heptathlon, which starts Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and concludes Friday at 10:00 a.m.
The remaining events will start Thursday afternoon and will continue through Saturday, with the awards ceremony at 4:30 p.m.