The first-year Southwestern Community College track and field program sends three athletes to compete at this weekend’s NJCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Hutchinson, Kan.
Representing the Spartans at nationals will be sophomore Kalli McCann and freshmen Molly Schimp and Jackson Shantz.
“A first-year program and we’re taking three kids down there that are going to be pretty competitive,” head coach Bill Huntington said. “I’m really happy with that.”
Shantz, a freshman from Greenfield, will open things up for the Spartans, running in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles preliminaries at 4:10 p.m. on Friday.
“His times have just really dropped,” Huntington said. “He’s been running pretty competitively. I think he’s placed in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles every race this year, and we’ve been in some pretty big meets.”
Shantz enters the national meet with a season-best time in the :56-range, after running close to 1:00 early in the season.
“I’m hoping to catch a warm day, and if we can get him going, I think he can run a low 55,” Huntington said. “He’s been working hard, so I’m excited about his chances. He’s sitting around the 24th spot. He’s going to be pretty competitive.”
Finals of the 400 meter intermediate hurdles will run at 2:55 p.m. on Saturday.
Schimp will compete in the high jump competition at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
She finished 14th at the Indoor Track and Field Championships during the winter.
“I think currently, she’s the 14th-seed height, so we’re excited about Molly,” Huntington said.
Schimp has been dealing with a knee injury during the outdoor season and has missed a number of Southwestern’s outdoor meets.
“That’s starting to come around a little bit,” Huntington said of her knee. “If she hits a 5-3, 5-4, I think she’s got a shot at placing. She’s coming off a third-place at regionals, made all-region. She had a couple of nice practices last week.”
Capping off the weekend for the Spartans will be McCann, a sophomore from Osceola, competing in the 5,000 meter run at 3:15 p.m. Saturday.
McCann has also been battling a knee injury during the outdoor season, but Huntington said he thinks she can finish off her Spartan career on a high note after having a good week of practice.
“She’s been struggling. She’s had a really sore knee,” he said. “She’s starting to get better. She’s had a good two weeks of practice, suffering a little bit of pain, but we’re going to tape her up and giver her some aspirin. She’s excited. I think she was disappointed with her indoor track season. She wants to go out on a big note, and I think she’s got a shot.”