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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, May 20, 2024
The Echo
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Indoor teams compete at conference

Women finish second, men finish fourth

The Taylor women’s indoor track team finished second, and the men’s indoor track team finished fourth in the Crossroads League Championships.

On day one of the meet, the women’s team met eight NAIA standards, a requirement to compete in the NAIA National Championships. The highlight of the day was junior Ahna VanderWall setting a new school record in the 5,000-meters race with a time of 17:22.85. This time is also currently the fifth fastest time in the entirety of the NAIA. Junior Mollie Gamble finished behind VanderWall with a time of 17:39.67.

Also finishing second on day one was the 4x800-meters relay team of junior Olivia Jeanette, sophomore Emma Muterspaw, freshman Kaitlin Burden and freshman Noel VanderWall with a time of 9:32.75. This time earned the relay team the NAIA A-Standard and is currently the fourth best time in the entirety of the NAIA.

The distance medley relay team of Muterspaw, Noel VanderWall, junior Ashley Hall and junior Emily Johnson also earned runner-up honors with a time of 12:18.11. This time is currently eighth-fastest in the NAIA this season.

On the men’s side, senior Sammy Sommers won the long jump event with a leap of 7.16 meters. Junior Jake Thompson finished in third with a jump of 7.04 meters.

“I’ve put in the work every day,” Sommers said on winning the event.

Freshman Josh Forbes placed third in the pole vault event clearing a height of 4.65 meters. Senior Liam Hesting continued his success in the throwing events with a third place in the weight throw event with a toss of 18.07 meters.

Day two of the meet saw more school records broken and more conference titles. Noel VanderWall continued her incredible freshman season winning the mile run with a time of 5:00.31, just missing out on the school record, set by Trojan legend Abbey Brennan, who ran a 4:59.12 last year. VanderWall’s time is fifth best in the NAIA this season. She also ran third in the 1,000-meters race.

“It’s definitely a testament to God’s faithfulness,” Noel VanderWall said. “I also give major credit to my team and coach Q (Quinn White) as they have all been so supportive on and off the track and push me to reach my limits.”

Junior Patience Sakeuh won the 200 meters race with a school record time of 25.37 seconds. She also earned runner-up finishes in the 60-meters race and the 60-meter hurdles with the eighth best time in the NAIA in the 60-meter hurdles, a 8.58 second effort. Freshman D’Arjha Davis followed Sakeuh across the line to finish second.

Freshman Kiana Siefert broke the school record in the triple jump with a leap of 11.24 meters, finishing fifth in the event. In the pole vault event, sophomore Betsy Underwood cleared a height of 3.12 meters.

Overall, the women’s team finished with 151.5 points, their highest total in the Crossroads League indoor Championships since the 2019 meet where they scored 191 points.

“The women especially put up an incredible fight, in the end it just wasn’t enough to put us over the top but they far outperformed all projections going into the weekend,” head coach Derek Gay said.

On the men’s side, junior Nate Conkel broke a Crossroads League Championships meet record in the 800 meters race with a time of 1:52.43, winning the event. Sommers continued his success from the previous day with a runner-up finish in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.37 seconds.

Overall, the men’s team finished with 81 points on the weekend.

“The men had an amazing weekend as well with several new national qualifiers and some guys that stepped up and ran incredibly well,” Gay said.

Both teams will now send multiple athletes to Brookings, South Dakota from March 2-4 for the NAIA National Championships where both teams have high hopes for a strong showing.

On the women’s side, sophomore Lynae Ackley, senior Audrey Altum, Burden, Davis, Gamble, Jeanette, Johnson, Muterspaw, Sakeuh, Siefert and both VanderWall sisters will compete at nationals.

On the men’s side, junior Isaac Brown, Conkel, Forbes, freshman Luke Harbor, Hesting, senior Damon Knowles, freshman Joel Mumaw, freshman Bryce Noble, Sommers, Thompson and sophomore Cole Whitehead will compete at nationals.