Storm set records at IIAC championships

by Seth Nailor

Men’s and Women’s Track

The Simpson track teams competed in the first ever sanctioned IIAC indoor championships this past weekend.

It was a weekend of personal bests for both the men’s and women’s squads as both tried to qualify for events coming up at the national meet on March 14 and 15.

On the men’s side, sophomore Ross Parker highlighted the meet by throwing a school record toss in the shot put. Parker threw 50- 3 1/2 to set the all time mark at Simpson.

Junior Clay Stoddard won the pole vault by clearing 14 feet and the 4×200-meter relay team placed fourth on an outstanding first day, which saw the Storm sitting in fourth place. On day two, the Storm slipped to eighth place in a very tight race.

Head Coach Tim Byers saw a silver lining in his teams’ performances. Out of 25 events the Storm athletes competed in, 10 of them were personal records.

“We had incredible performances, I was proud where we placed,’ said Byers. “Just where you placed doesn’t say anything about how hard your athletes were working. You can’t ask for anything more if they are running their fastest times ever.”

The men have two last chance meets this coming weekend at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake and at Iowa State University in Ames where hopefuls like Ross Parker, the 4×400-meter relay team and Stoddard can give it one last chance to qualify for the national meet.

On the women’s side of things, the personal bests just kept on coming. Of the 12 entries the women competed in, 10 were personal records.

There are only two seniors on the women’s team and both of them came up big for the Storm. Senior Tracie Whitney set a school record in the pole vault and the other senior, Ashley Wilson, threw a personal record in the shot put by two feet.

All other competitors for the extremely young women’s team are freshman. One being Jennifer Wendt. Wendt competed in the 1500-meter and 1000-meter runs where she set personal records in both of those events. Wendt also participated in the distance medley and the 4×400 that also scored for the Storm.

Byers commented that Wendt might have been winded after her big weekend.

“On the drive home, you could tell she was a little tired,” said Byers.

Wendt is another competitor that will try and take advantage of this weekend’s last chance meets to try and qualify for a spot in the national meet.

Both teams placed eighth and Byers couldn’t have been happier with the way his athletes competed.

“If you give it everything you have, you are a champion every time,” said Byers. “That’s what I told them and that’s how I felt they competed. We gave it everything we had.”

Men’s Basketball

A disappointing men’s basketball season came to an end last week when the Storm dropped its first round IIAC tournament game to the Loras Duhawks in Dubuque.

Simpson owned a 32-31 advantage at the break when someone left a door open that cooled the Storm off.

Simpson shot 13 percent in the second half making only four of its 30 attempts from the field. The one point advantage at half time evaporated into a 75-57 loss.

All-American and Jostens Award finalist, senior Jesse Harris, capped of a stellar career by posting 20 points and 9 rebounds in leading the Storm. Senior Matt McCulla threw in 8 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.

The once promising season turned downward in the second half of the year as the Storm finished up with a 14-12 record. Head Coach Bruce Wilson was disappointed in how the season ended.

“Obviously, every year we want to win an IIAC championship and we want to compete in the national tournament,” said Wilson. “So we can’t change what happened this year but we can sure learn from it and hopefully become a better team next year because of it.”

Wilson was complimentary of his two seniors who have played in 102 straight games stretching back to their freshman seasons.

“I really felt bad for our two seniors because I really felt that the things that we have been talking with Jesse (Harris) about as far as improving his rebounding and his scoring. I think he did and excellent job of that this year becoming a more complete player,” said Wilson.

“We’ll really miss Mac (McCulla), Mac keeps us loose, he plays extremely hard, he makes all the hustle plays, he’s always trying to guard the big old boys in the conference and that’s a hard thing to do. I just felt like both of those guys had really good senior years and we will miss them,” said Wilson.