Track teams aspire with continual success

The indoor track season is quickly coming to an end. However, both men and women have seen tremendous success already.

Sophomore Kellie Whitney was recently named the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Performer of the Week after receiving first place in the long jump, triple jump and 4×200-meter relay.Whitney also placed second in the 55-meter dash and third in the 4×400 at the Dennis Young Classic at Buena Vista on Feb. 9.

“What I enjoy most about the team is the competitive atmosphere,” Whitney said. “We like to compete not only against people from other schools, but also against each other.”

The men’s 4×200 team recently broke the school record. The members on that relay include sophomores Marty Rounds, Kyle Yarkosky, Legrand Bien-Aime and senior Nate Smith. They broke the record at the meet held in Platteville, Wis.

Sophomore Lauren Bucklin also broke a school record in the 55 hurdles with a time of 8.43 seconds. The previous record was held by Loni Brewer in 1991.

“I am very excited so far with my hurdle time, but any improvement would be awesome,” Bucklin said. “Hurdles are just something I have a passion for and are what makes track so amazing.”

Bucklin, however, was injured last year at this exact same time, at the University of Northern Iowa track meet while running the 60. Three steps before the finish line she pulled her hamstring.

Bucklin, now having fully recovered and ranked No. 9 in the nation, qualified for the indoor national meet along with two of her teammates prior to the conference meet. Sophomore Stacy Bonertz has qualified in the shot put and sophomore Marty Rounds has qualified in the 55 hurdles. Both of them are currently on the provisional list.

Nationals will be held March 14 and 15, so athletes still have an opportunity to improve their provisional times at the last chance meet at Iowa State on March 8.

“We’ve got a lot more opportunities for some kids to get actually on the provisional list, but again we want to make sure we get some into the meet also,” Dave Cleveland, head men’s and women’s track and field coach said. “We’re having a lot of individual success, and we’re hoping that carries over to some team success.”

Both the men’s and the women’s teams went on to post Simpson’s best finishes at the IIAC Indoor Championships at Luther Feb. 29 and March 1. The men took fourth place with 62 points, while the women scored 110.33 points for a second-place finish. Cleveland was named 2008 Iowa Conference Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year after leading the team to a school record in points for the women at the league meet.

There were six All-Conference performances on the men’s side. Sophomore Eric Patten was conference champ in the 800-meter run, breaking Luther’s forum record and the IIAC meet record. Rounds also took first in the 55-meter hurdles.

Sophomore Wardell Watkins placed second in the long jump and third in the triple jump. In the shot put, sophomore John Wardenburg took second. The sophomore relay of Rounds, Tyler Jordison, Bien-Aime and Patten ran a time of 3:27.95 to get third in the 4×400-meter relay.

The men’s 4×200 relay of Rounds, Smith, Watkins and Bien-Aime placed fifth. The distance medley relay also took fifth as freshman Louis Elbert, freshman Thomas Cotter, junior Justin Schneider and Patten ran a 10:53.45. Elbert, Schneider, sophomore Aaron Skopec and Cotter took seventh in the 4×800 with an 8:36.62. Sophomore Scott Danielson was seventh in the shot put and eighth in the weight throw with tosses of 46-5 1/4 and 44-0 1/2, respectively. With a time of 4:33.14, Jordison placed eighth in the mile.

For the women, there were also six All-Conference performances. Whitney claimed the first conference title for the Storm in the triple jump. Conference champ in the 55 hurdles, Bucklin lowered her own school record and her provisionally-qualifying time with an 8.38. Freshman Catie Ellingson ran a 5:09.66 in the mile to add yet another win. The 4×800 squad of sophomore Sarah Hammel, sophomore Kelli Hildreth, senior Emily Salberg and Ellingson now hold the school record as well as the forum record. Senior Suzi Anderson came in second in the long jump. In third was the 4×200 quartet of freshman Vanessa Evenson, Anderson, Bucklin and freshman Molly Sabers, breaking the school record.

Anderson finished fifth in the high jump, sixth in the 200 and seventh in the triple jump. The Storm took fourth and fifth in the 800 as Ellingson came back, followed by Hammel. The distance medley relay of Hildreth, sophomore Alyssa Hedrick, Salberg and Hammel also broke the school record with a time of 12:31.29 with a fourth-place finish. Also in fourth with a time of 4:05.86 was the 4×400 quartet of Sabers, Suzi Anderson, sophomore Lauren Anderson and Bucklin. Junior Kayla Knaack placed fourth in the shot put with a throw of 41-5 3/4 and fifth in the weight throw with a 48-1 1/4. Sophomore Jess Christensen came in fourth in the 5000 and sixth in the 3000 with times of 18:47.30 and 10:54.42, respectively. Lauren Anderson was fifth in the 55 hurdles with an 8.63, seventh in the long jump, and seventh in the pole vault. Senior Krystal Berger also placed in the pole vault, finishing in a three-way tie for eighth and Sabers also scored in the 55 hurdles with a seventh-place finish of 9.06.