Southwestern’s track and field team looks to open up its debut outdoor track season Saturday at Grand View University in Des Moines.
If the weather holds up, that is.
But after a successful indoor campaign, head coach Bill Huntington’s biggest goal heading into the outdoor season is to get more athletes to the national meet.
“Probably the big thing is we definitely want to get a few more national qualifiers,” he said. “With the weather we had, we weren’t able to get outside as much as we’d have liked to, and I think that hurt us a little bit (during indoors). I think we really have the capability of getting a lot more kids all-region. With it being outdoor, there’s a lot more events.”
Some of those new events that are added in outdoors that Huntington thinks will give his athletes more opportunities are the steeplechase, the 4x100 relay and longer sprints.
Huntington said three Spartan athletes will give the steeplechase a try. Sophomores Regina Hafner and Dave Prchal, as well as freshman Gage Beers, have all been working on the steeplechase during practices.
The Spartans also boast a strong stable of sprinters on the women’s side that Huntington said he believes can put together a strong 4x100 relay team.
“Kaley Folkerts is joining us off the basketball team,” he said. “She was an outstanding runner at Bedford, and she’s got some nice speed. Her and Peyton Wilkenfeld, Kristin Klocksiem and Mariah Kruse, those young ladies can roll. We really think once Mariah gets healthy, along with Brei Theisen, I think those young ladies are going to be really tough in the sprints.”
Another advantage Huntington sees will be for freshman Jackson Shantz of Greenfield in the hurdles, making the jump from 55 meters and 60 meters in indoors to the 110 high hurdles and 400 hurdles in outdoors.
Huntington also expects big things from freshmen Molly Schimp of Hampton and Rayvonne Brown of Davenport. Both competed in the NJCAA National Indoor Track and Field Championships earlier this month.
Huntington said he hopes Schimp can inch closer to the 5-5 or 5-6 mark in the high jump during the outdoor season.
He also hopes to get Brown in some 800 meter races fresh to see what kind of time he can run.
Joe Bierl, Auston Carter, Beers and Prchal give the Spartans depths in the middle distances, with Carter, Beers and Prchal being able to race the 1,500 and 5,000 meter distances as well.
Josh Cobb will likely see action in the 10,000 meters for Southwestern.
Marquise Flowers and Terrence Gaye will give the Spartans some options in the short sprints on the men’s side.
Zack Ruth has shown considerable improvement during practices over the past several weeks in the shot put.
On the women’s side, Kalli McCann gives the Spartans a strong competitor in both the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters. Hafner, aside from the steeplechase, will also run some middle distance races, including the 1,500 meters.
The Spartans open up at Grand View Saturday and travel to Central College on Thursday. Also on the schedule this year are trips to Grinnell College and Northwest Missouri State, and the Border Wars, pitting four junior colleges from Iowa against four junior colleges from Kansas.
Sophomores — Dave Prchal, Omaha; Adam Pool, Orient; Kalli McCann, Osceola; Regina Hafner, Panora; Mariah Kruse, Afton; Kaley Folkerts, Bedford.
Freshmen — Rayvonne Brown, Davenport; Josh Cobb, Panora; Auston Carter, Coon Rapids; Brandon Bergren, Red Oak; Gage Beers, Osceola; Nate Carr, Orient; Eric Robinson, Osceola; Terrence Gaye, Urbandale; Jackson Shantz, Greenfield; Marquise Flowers, Plainview, Ill.; Joe Bierl, Davenport; Zack Ruth, Osceola; Kristin Klocksiem, Glidden; Brei Theisen, Alton, Ill.; Molly Schimp, Hampton; Peyton Wilkenfeld, Elk Horn; Kasi Simpson, Hampton.
March 23 — at Viking Invitational, Des Moines
March 28 — at Central Invite, Pella
April 5-6 — at Border Wars, Council Bluffs
April 10 — at Bearcat Open, Maryville, Mo.
April 26-27 — Region XI Championships, Council Bluffs
May 16-17 — NJCAA Championships, Hutchinson, Kan.