Scots track hopes to continue track run
Monmouth College will attempt to continue its legacy of excellence this weekend when Grinnell College hosts the Midwest Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.
The Fighting Scots men have won an unprecedented 11 straight league titles and the women have brought home nine consecutive crowns. Both squads return just two defending champions each, but have a plethora of athletes who have turned in some of the league’s best performances.
“The women have covered most of their positions,” said Roger Haynes. “I feel good where they are in terms of overall depth and quality. The men have some gaps, but I like what we’ve done recently. Some of the young guys have stepped to the front and filled some gaps in the 400 and 800 meters. We just have to do our performances. We can’t do anything about what the other teams do. We just need to score three guys in as many events as we can.”
That scoring may start in the field events where defending pole vault champion Brock McAnally will try for his third straight title. The senior’s best effort is a foot better than the rest of the field. Classmate Jeremy Henkins is also in point contention with the seventh-best vault in the conference. The Scots have won the pole vault the last five years.
The Scots could get the lion’s share of points in the high jump where Nick Byom returns to defend his conference title. He’ll face stiff competition from teammate Tyler Hannam, the defending national outdoor champion. The pair has turned in the best height in the conference and the nation. Monmouth’s third jumper – Matt Hassler – also figures to earn points. He’s ranked third in the league.
Like the high jump, the shot put could be a Monmouth sweep with the top three marks turned in by Scots throwers. Sam Cokinos popped the league’s top mark last week. He’s followed closely by Peyton Lumzy and DeAndre Smith. Lumzy and Smith are ranked 1-2 in the weight throw. Lumzy could be the odds-on favorite in the weight, leading the field by nine feet.
The Scots also have the top marks in the other two field events – the long jump and triple jump. Mike Blodgett has a narrow lead for the top mark in the long jump. He’s fourth in the triple jump where freshman Adam Sanden has turned in the league’s best effort. Karston Anderson and Byom are ranked sixth and eight, respectively, but teams are limited to three entries per event. Haynes will have to decide whether to plug in sprinter/hurdler Anderson or high jumper Byom into the triple jump.
In the sprints, Monmouth looks to senior Saidu Sesay, who is ranked first in the 55 and 200, to lead the way. Kiante Green is third in the 55, an event the Scots have not won since 2005, and fourth in the 200. Sesay and Green are joined in the latter sprint by senior Logan Hohl, who turned in the MWC’s sixth-best time.
The Scots had their string of producing the 400-meter dash champion every year since 2004 snapped last season but are in contention to begin another streak in 2011. Hohl, the second seed, is just 32-hundreths off the top time. Monmouth should have plenty of options in the 400 with Green, Shane Reschke and Eric Brown seeded 4-5-6.
Senior Geoff Bird and junior Jon Welty are poised to be Monmouth’s main men in the distances. Bird could become the Scots’ first conference champion in the 5K, where he has the league’s best time by 13 seconds. He’s third in the 3K and Welty has the fourth-best time. Welty could also move up in the mile where he is seeded fifth, just seven seconds out of the top spot.
Anderson and Hassler are the Scots’ best chances to win their fourth straight 55-meter hurdle title. Anderson is seeded sixth and Hassler eighth.
On the women’s side, Amanda Streeter will go after her third straight weight throw title and Mackinsey Marquith is set to defend the long jump title she won as a freshman. Streeter has already been challenged by her own teammates, as the Scots have the top four competitors in the weight throw. Allison Devor leads the pack, followed by Streeter, freshman Raven Robinson and journeyman thrower Maureen Dewan.
Monmouth’s throw group could also wreak havoc in the shot put where they have three of the top four marks. Devor, looking for her first league title, is seeded first, closely followed by Streeter. Robinson also has a shot to wind up on the podium with the MWC’s fourth-best throw.
While Marquith enters the weekend as the defending long jump champion, she’s currently seeded second, but has company with Bailey Jackson in third, Morgan Leffel in fourth and Chelsey Widdop in eighth. Marquith, Jackson and Leffel are also set to score points in the triple jump, where they’re ranked no lower than fifth. Leffel won the event in 2008.
Whitney Didier and Morgan Ryan have the top two spots in the pole vault. The jack-of-all-trades Leffel has made a late-season push and is seeded seventh.
The Scots will try to reclaim the high jump title they last won four years ago. Freshman Emily Tysma has turned in the league’s top mark and will get scoring help from Widdop, who is ranked fourth.
“I like the fact that we’re strong in the field events,” said Haynes. “Those tend to be fairly consistent events, so you have an idea going in what to expect.”
Mary Kate Beyer could be the dominant distance force with the top times in three events – the mile, 3K and 5K. Rachel Bowden and Alyssa Edwards join Beyer in the mile and 3K. Bowden is seeded third and fourth in the mile and 3K, and Edwards is sixth and eighth. Brittany Frazier and Tori Beaty add depth in the 5K with a fifth and eighth seed.
“We’re as solid three-deep in the distance races as we’ve been,” claimed Haynes. “The sprinters are running well, too.”
Newcomer sprinter/hurdler Alexa Allen figures to help the Scots in three events. Allen is the second seed in her signature event, the 55-meter hurdles, where she is just five-hundredths of a second off the lead. When Ryan and Didier leave the pole vault pit, they have the third and seventh-best times in the hurdles. Allen and Kimarri Campbell are seeded 2-3 in the 55-meter dash. Jae Moore has the sixth fastest time in the event, but is seeded second in the 200, which is crowded with Monmouth runners. Allen is ranked fifth, Kenzie Payton is sixth and Kaci Lierman is eighth.
Lierman ranks as the third seed in the 400-meter dash. Didier and Moore are ranked fifth and sixth. Didier also could compete in the 800 with the league’s fifth best time. Bowden leads Monmouth’s group in the event with a fourth seed. Edwards is ranked seventh.
It looks like the Scots are in position to maintain their string of strong conference performances, but that’s on paper, warned Haynes.
“The conference meet is a different thing,” he said. “It’s a good thing to put good performances together before the meet, but you’ve got to turn in good performances within a 24-hour period. Coming back the second day and running well without any mistakes is tough.”
This weekend’s Midwest Conference Championships will be held at Grinnell and will be webcast at www.pennatlantic.com.