Indoor Track and Field Preview
The Northern Michigan University indoor track and field team will continue its success as one of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) powers in the 2010-11 season. Like last season, the Wildcats are going to have a youthful team. Only four juniors and six seniors are retuning while the rest of the roster includes 13 freshmen and 11 sophomores. NMU hopes to again challenge the top teams in the conference, Grand Valley State, Ashland and Hillsdale.
At the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships last year, the squad scored 41.50 points which was good for a fourth-place showing. Grand Valley State claimed the GLIAC Championship with 225.5 points. Despite coming in fourth place, NMU set nine school records at the championships. Catherine Angeli re-wrote the record books in two events. She finished the 60-yard dash prelims with a time of 7.92 while making history in the 200-meter prelims (25.51). Maegan Hendershot had her name in the record books in the 800 while hitting the finish line with a time of 2:15.75 for a sixth-place finish, which was a NCAA Division II provisional qualifying time. The 4x400 relay saw Angeli, Hendershot, Rachel Williams and Erin VanEnkevort set another record with a time of 4:01.46. In addition, Bailey Franklin claimed the triple jump with a leap of 36-11.00 for a school record and set a new school standard in the pentathlon with 3,295 points. Karin Diebold with a leap of 10-10 in the pole vault set another record at the GLIAC event.
Head coach, Tom Barnes not only want his ‘Cats to take their competition to a whole new level but also wants them to have simplicity while competing. Barnes believes if his team knows who they are and what they stand for; they will go far this year in the GLIAC and the NCAAs. He also said that the team continues to make progress and wants to become one of the better team’s in the conference and country.
Angeli will continue her dominance for the Wildcats in the sprint group. In addition to her record breaking performances at the GLIAC Championships, she won the 55 dash and was a member of the 4x200 relay at the St. Scholastica Mini-Meet with times of 7.55 and 1:51.92 respectively. The Lake State Classic saw Angeli take the 55 dash (7:59) while setting yet another school record as a member of the 4x200 relay at the Pointer Invitational (1:46.75) along with teammates Brittnee Balbierz, Alyssa Erspamer and Becky Rotter. With Balbierz and Angeli returning, freshmen Samara White, Katie Lafayette and Katie Searles should become major impacts for the ‘Cats this season. For the long sprinters, Katrina Lamansky, Kristina Mattson and Sara Turschak return for NMU. Balbierz and Angeli were also named captains for the sprinters this season.
Franklin is the top returner in the field events for NMU. She also took home the 55 hurdles at the Lake Superior Challenge (8.63) and the triple jump with a leap of 11.13 meters. Franklin made history at the Pointer Invitational as she claimed the triple jump with a leap of 11.27 meters while winning the indoor pentathlon with 3,136 points. Newcomers Delaney Lovett and Jamie Roberts with sophomores Stephanie Haun, Mariah Beaman and Brooke Granquist and junior Melissa Christensen will add depth in the field events.
The distance runners return one of the three top finishers in Kristen Schulz. NMU will also have seniors Kirsten Hoklas and Jessica Krob; sophomores Brianne Gerlach-McDonald, Sarah Cousineau and Olivia Juntila; along with junior Williams coming back with experience. This group will also feature six freshmen, Chelsea Farquhar, Katherine Holway, Kelsey Noah, Alicia Romano and Elizabeth Sabin. Nora Kiilunen, Becky Holmquist, Brittany Lomis and Williams round out the middle distant returners.
In addition to Schulz and Kiilnen, the ‘Cats will have three other top runners returning to the team who are currently on the cross country squad in freshman Mandy Dye and sophomore Rita Woitas.
According to Barnes, this year’s freshman class is one of the top classes in the GLIAC and that they can become a major impact as the season progresses. Barnes stated that he is happy with all of the newcomers and that they have a good attitude and effort. NMU features two prized recruits in Roberts and White. Roberts an Iron Mountain native competed in high school in the pole vault and was considered as the top pole vaulters in the Midwest. White, who is from Milwaukee, Wis., competed in the 60 and 200 and the long jump while in high school. Barnes mentioned that White is one of the best freshman sprinters in the GLIAC.
This year’s schedule for the Wildcats include the St. Scholastica Mini Meet (Dec. 4) in Duluth, Minn. before competing again for the first time in 2011 at the LSSU Open (Jan. 21). NMU will return to Marquette for its only home meet of the season as they host the Northern Challenge (Jan. 22). NMU is also scheduled to compete at the University of Wisconsin Elite Meet (Jan. 29), the Pointer Invitational (Feb. 5) and the Lake Superior Challenge (Feb. 12). The Wildcats will then try to become one of the nation’s best indoor track and field teams in the last two meets of the season as they take part in the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships (Feb. 26) and the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships (March 12).
Coach Barnes said that last season was a learning experience for the women. He said that they learned that hard work pays off, to support and work together and becoming better leaders. The ‘Cats will use their learning experiences to finish this season on a very strong note.
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Outlook by Stanley Jefferson