Men’s and Women’s track and field remain strong through second meet

By adviser Feb 12, 2021
Bendery and Smith come out of their blocks in the 200m dash where they placed first and second, respectively. Photo: Samira Kassem
Bendery and Smith come out of their blocks in the 200m dash where they placed first and second, respectively.
Photo: Samira Kassem

The Titan men and women shared the track with Augustana College and Millikin University for the second week in a row during their home triangular last Saturday, February 6. 

This competition directly followed the NCAA’s announcement that there will be no national championships for DIII winter sports this year. 

We have been training and preparing as if there was not going to be an NCAA meet already with the focus on the CCIW triangulars” coach Chris Schumacher said.  

“It’s been an incredible blessing to have a few meets under our belt knowing nearly half of the teams in DIII are not even practicing. We take great care knowing how abruptly it ended last year and knowing the plug could be pulled at any moment. Practices have been sharp and focus at meets has been excellent.”

The meet kicked off with the women in the morning, the opposite of last week. 

On the women’s side, the Titans won seven of the 13 events of the morning, with multiple athletes placing first in multiple events. 

Sophomore standout Addison Bendery ran her season-best time to win the 200m in 26.28. 

“With COVID, the lack of spectators, and the meets being smaller, the team has done a great job of supporting each other during races/events as well as during practice which is super awesome because it can be super hard to self motivate when Shirk is empty,” Bendery said.

“It really helps when you’re getting into your blocks and you hear your teammates screaming at the top of your lungs for you drowning out all of the other teams.”

Sophomore Kinlee Miller competes in the triple jump.
Photo: Samira Kassem

Bendery also earned this week’s CCIW Athlete of the Week honors based on her outstanding performances at the first two meets of the season. 

Fellow sprinter Avery Smith won the 60m dash (8.16) and 60m hurdles (9.97). 

On the distance side, sophomore Rebekah Harden claimed victory in the 800m run (2:24.69) and the mile with a season-best of 5:20.17. Harden also anchored the 4×400 meter relay (Benerdy, Wilkinson, Wyman, Harden) who outran Millikin (4:09.85) for the win (4:06.54).

Sophomore Rebekah Harden runs the anchor leg of the first-place finishing women’s 4x400m relay. Photo: Andrew Zienty

 

  Standout performances on the field include long jump champion, senior Cora Wilkinson (5.22m) and triple jump champion, freshman Lauren Wong (11.27m). 

Junior Emma Helferich took second in the long jump (11.12m). 

“This pandemic has really taught me to be grateful for every little thing I have; Shirk being one. I was excited to hear we would be hosting almost all of our indoor meets because something about Shirk brings out my best jumps. Although I miss the thrill of running on an unfamiliar track and bonding with my teammates on the long bus rides back to Bloomington, I feel blessed to be able to call one of the nation’s best indoor track facilities home” Helferich said.

Junior Cole Paraday competes in the shot put.
Photo: Samira Kassem

Later in the afternoon, the men’s team brought home two first-place finishes. 

Senior Jake Mahaffey topped the triple jump with a season-best of 13.41m while junior Cole Paraday threw a season-best for the win in the shot put with 14.31m. 

Mahaffey also tied sophomore Drew Tatlock for first in the high jump (1.78m).

   Top finishes in the sprints included senior Dylan Ruskin’s second-place finish in the 60m dash (7.56) and third-place finish in the 200m dash (24.74) which were both season bests.

“With no ‘pinnacle’ indoor conference meet this year, each meet becomes important. It’s a weird feeling because if you pop off one meet and are in that all-conference spot and no one beats you, you have it. I can’t tell if it’s a nicer feeling or less pressure to perform at that final last indoor meet. The atmosphere for indoor conference is electric so not having that for my senior year is tough” Ruskin said.

 “I’m excited to see where we stand when it’s all said and done. Again, after that last meet, with no nationals, all focus goes to outdoor.” 

Sophomores Ethan Ruth and Cyrus Clarke finished second in the 60m hurdles (9.11) and 400m dash (52.50), respectively. 

On the distance end, sophomore Noah Smith earned second in the 3000m run (9:13.14) followed by senior Matt Wagner (9:15.07). 

“One of our team mottos is “cherish the opportunity,” and now more than ever does that ring true. This is something we are constantly reminding ourselves and each other of and that alone is enough to bring us closer as a team” Helferich said. 

“We are so lucky to have this opportunity to compete together and in “our house,” I hope it continues to stay this way!”

The Titans will once again compete in “their house” this weekend when they host Wheaton College and Millikin University Saturday, February 13. Men will compete beginning at 10 a.m. followed by the women in the afternoon. 

Sophomore Cyrus Clarke competes in the 400m dash.
Photo: Andrew Zienty

By adviser

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