6 athletes snap 15-year drought, qualify for indoor nationals


(Photo: Courtesy of Blake Willadsen)

by Jayde Vogeler, Photography Editor

NAPERVILLE, Ill. — For the first time in more than a decade, the men’s track and field team is sending six athletes in three events to the 2017 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Naperville, Illinois, this weekend.

Sophomores Chase Wetterling and Kirk Wick, as well as juniors Travis Tupper and Jordan Coughenour, qualified for the 4×400-meter relay just in the nick of time. The relay group is ranked 10th in the nation with a time of 3:19.16, according to the Track & Field Results Reporting System.

A final push at the Wartburg Final Qualifier on March 4, the relay team shaved more than two seconds off to earn their spot in the top 12 among the nation. This follows the record time of 3:21.51 seconds set at the IIAC championships a week before.

Sophomore Emmitt Wheatley will run the 200 meters, and junior Dylan Kalinay will compete in the 60-meter hurdles. Wheatley ranks sixth with a time of 22.02 seconds while Kalinay ranks eighth with a time of 8.14 seconds, according to TFRRS.

Wheatley qualified for the 2017 Darren Young Classic at Grinnell College on Feb. 11. Wheatley makes his second trip to nationals, having competed in the 2016 outdoor national championships in the 100 meters.

Kalinay qualified for nationals during the IIAC championships. Kalinay is no stranger to national championships. He qualified in the 110-meter hurdles the past two years for the outdoor championships and earned eighth place in 2016.

The three events will compete in prelims on Friday. Kalinay will run at 1:45 p.m., Wheatley at 3:45 p.m. and the 4×400-meter relay team at 5 p.m. If they qualify for finals, they will compete the next day.

Senior Isaac Frazier narrowly missed the top 15 in the heptathlon by 49 points. Frazier competed at the Wartburg Final Qualifier scoring 4,756, a personal best indoor heptathlon score for the senior, according to athletic.net.

The last time an event went to indoor national championships was 15 years ago in the high jump, according to simpsonathletics.com.

To qualify for the national championships, athletes must be ranked in the top 15 for individual events and top 12 for relay events with no duplicates from one school.

Other schools representing the Iowa Conference are Central, Nebraska Wesleyan, Wartburg, Dubuque and Loras in a  total of 10 different events and 21 athletes with the Storm at the men’s indoor national championships.