The Waldorf University men’s track and field team is striving to raise the bar during the outdoor season.
Capping a strong indoor season with a runner-up finish in last month’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Indoor Championships, the Warriors are poised to continue the upward trend this spring.
“My expectations for the team this spring are to continue the success that we saw during the indoor season and carry that over to the outdoor season,” Waldorf interim head coach Kaylen White said.
A strong work ethic displayed by the Warriors during the indoor campaign paid dividends with a solid conference showing and the program sending its first-ever qualifier to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor National Championships. Even when North Iowa’s weather didn’t cooperate with outdoor training, Waldorf’s athletes didn’t let it impede their preparation for success.
“Our athletes were very committed during the indoor season,” White said. “They were dedicated to practicing even when we couldn’t get outside much and I think they’ll see that dedication and commitment to hard work really start to pay off now that we can get out on the track to practice.”
With the Warriors being a close-knit group, they’re looking to use their close bond to their advantage this season.
“This team does a good job of training together,” White said. “We are a pretty cohesive group, so it’s nice that they all get along both on and off the track. That’s important in building the team dynamic and that really helps on race day.”
Waldorf enters the outdoor season already with three national qualifiers. Seniors Aaron Ward, Nathan Meiners and freshman Andrew Murley will represent the Warriors in the marathon during the NAIA Outdoor National Championships, scheduled for May 25-27 at Gulf Shores, Ala.
Ward, Meiners and Murley punched their tickets to outdoor nationals during the NAIA Half-Marathon Qualifier in December as all three recorded national-qualifying A-standard performances at Fremont, Neb. Leading the charge, Ward chased down seventh place with a time of 1 hour, 13 minutes, 4 seconds in the 13.1-mile race. Meiners battled to eighth (1:13.10) and Murley secured ninth (1:13.27) as the trio became Waldorf’s first-ever outdoor national qualifiers.
“Nathan, Aaron and Andrew are leading the way by having already qualified for nationals in the marathon,” White said.
The Warriors return five athletes who earned all-conference performances in last year’s NSAA Outdoor Championships, which saw Waldorf finish fourth in the team standings.
Meiners fought to second (16:12.69) in the 5,000-meter run with an outdoor school-record time to claim all-conference recognition and also achieved the honor in the 10,000 as he raced to second (34:15.34).
Sophomore Isaiah Craig also scored all-conference performances in two events. Craig locked up second in the high jump as he cleared the bar with an outdoor school-record of 1.94 meters (6 feet, 4.37 inches) and took third in the triple jump with a distance of 13.20 meters (43 feet, 3.68 inches).
Junior Chasen Selsor captured third (11:20.23) in the 3,000 steeplechase to grab all-conference honors while establishing an outdoor school record.
Sprints and mid-distance events are expected to be areas where the Warriors can do damage this spring, presenting the opportunity to field promising relay teams.
“We finally have just enough sprinters and mid-distance guys to get some good relays for the 4×100, 4×400 and 4×800,” White said. “Mid-distance is coming right along in their training.”
Junior Nic Ganzeveld looks to add a boost in distance events after advancing to the NAIA Indoor National Championships in the 1,000 last month.
Senior Adam Brinkman is expected to go to work in the pole vault in addition to competing in distance events.
“The distance guys have been training hard since Day 1 and are always ready on meet day,” White said.
Sophomore Justin Jacobi, who won the conference crown in the heptathlon during the NSAA Indoor Championships, looks to deliver once again in multi events during the NSAA Outdoor Multi Championships in May.
“We expect a lot out of Justin in the multi events,” White said.
Junior Grant Lehman is also a multi athlete for the Warriors.
Waldorf aims to rack up points in jumps. Freshman Dubem Awuzie claimed all-conference honors in the long jump and triple jump during the indoor season while redshirt freshman Cameron Newsome and Craig garnered all-conference recognition in the high jump.
“We have one of the best squads of jumpers in the entire conference,” White said.
“We have a good group of throwers that we expect will earn a fair amount of points for the team,” White said.
Waldorf continues the outdoor season with Saturday’s John Creer Invitational at 10 a.m. at St. Charles, Mo.
“The first two meets at Washington University and Lindenwood University should be really good for us since there will be a lot of competitors and a higher level of competition than we are used to,” White said. “After that our meets will be at smaller schools, so it’s nice to get the chance to run against both small and large programs.”
Four other meets appear on Waldorf’s schedule before the NSAA Outdoor Multi Championships on April 29-30 at Jamestown, N.D. and the NSAA Outdoor Championships on May 11-12 at Jamestown. The Warriors are working to further their team chemistry and are shooting for peak performances during the conference meets.
“Our goals for this season are to beat personal bests, do well in conference and unite as a team,” White said. “By training together to push other teammates, athletes will see improvements both individually and as a team.”
Climbing the NSAA standings to contend for the conference crown and sending more national qualifiers to Gulf Shores at season’s end are also among Waldorf’s priorities.
“We have the numbers and the talent to do better in conference than we did last year,” White said. “As for nationals, three is a good start, but I believe we can qualify even more.”