Track and field teams repeat as conference champions

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Jeremy Gathright: 200-meter dash, 22:48

Justin Bryan: 5,000-meter run, 15:27.75

Men’s 4×800-meter relay, 8:01.05

Jeremy Bryan: mile run, 4:26.83

Jeremy Gathright: 400-meter dash 49.96

Kellen Kristoffersen: 600-yard run, 1:15.26

Jeremy Bryan: 1,000-meter run, 2:35.68

Aaron Caldwell: 3,000-meter run, 8:47.46

Men’s Distance Medley, 10:43.84

Men’s 4×400-meter relay, 3:26.74

Jeremy Gathright: triple jump, 14.58 meters

Jeremy Gathright: long jump, 6.97 meters

Clayton Hill: shot put, 14.69 meters

Tyler Sloan: 55-meter hurdles, 8:39

Tyler Sloan: 55-meter dash, 7.27

Tyler Sloan: 200-meter dash, 26.05

Megan Rosa: 5,000-meter run, 18:31.87

Women’s 4×800-meter relay, 9:55.38

Lauren Jaqua: mile run, 5:27.13

Khadijah Lane: 400-meter dash, 1:01.04

Ariella Harrison: 600-yard run, 1:31.15

Jenna Stanbrough: 1,000-meter run, 3:08.66

Lauren Jaqua: 3,000-meter run, 10:43.08

Women’s 4×400-meter relay, 4:05.50

Ariella Harrison: pentathlon, 3,111 points

Valerie Schirmer: weight throw, 14.41 meters

Katie Thurbon: pole vault, 3.78 meters

For the second straight season, the Baker University track and field teams swept the Heart of America Athletic Conference Indoor Championships in dominating fashion.

During the conference championships Feb. 16 in Lamoni, Iowa, 22 Wildcats and five relay teams won their respective events. With these finishes, the women’s team outscored runner-up, Central Methodist University, 337-133. The men’s team also tallied 266 points to grab the conference title over the Eagles, who scored 161.5 points.

“Extending conference titles is always tough,” head coach Zach Kindler said. “You’ve got a target on your back and everyone is kind of out to go against you. But with that, I think our kids put that in the back of their minds and just went out and did what they are capable of doing.”

Of the 21 events, the women’s team won 14, and the Wildcats continued to score points in the remaining seven.

“To be able to have 30 girls score that many points and really in a dominating fashion at pretty much every event… That’s outstanding,” Kindler said. “To say that we have the conference best athletes at 14 out of 21 events, that’s pretty stellar to look at that.”

Junior Ariella Harrison, who brought home two event titles in the 600-yard run and the pentathlon, said most of the teams’ workouts were based so the Wildcats could peek at this particular meet, and that’s exactly what they did.

“We came out there with a winning mentality, and we came out winning,” Harrison said. “The whole team was stoked up for it, everyone was supporting and I think it just shows that we have so much more room to grow for (the outdoor season.)”

By claiming three event championships and anchoring the winning 4×400-meter relay team, sophomore Tyler Sloan scored the most points of any women’s competitor and was named the meet MVP.

Senior Jeremy Gathright also accumulated more points than any other men’s competitors. He won four event championships, including his fourth consecutive conference triple jump title.

“I understand my team needs as many points as possible, so that’s really the main reason why I do it,” Gathright said. “I love competing and I always compete to win. That’s kind of the mind set I always have.”

For their performances, Sloan and Gathright grabbed the final Indoor HAAC Athlete of the Week honors. However, the Wildcats’ awards would not stop there.

Kindler was also named the HAAC Men’s and Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year.

The Wildcats will have little time to celebrate these accolades, though, as Kindler prepares to send his largest class of athletes to the NAIA Indoor National Championships

Fifteen individuals and two relay teams will compete at nationals Thursday-Saturday in Geneva, Ohio. While it won’t be any easy task, Kindler believes the Wildcats have the potential to crack the top 10 on both the men’ and women’s sides.

“We are really going to have to do some exciting things on both sides to get that, but I really think that, especially on our women’s side where we are set up right now, we could possibly score a lot of points in there,” Kindler said.

Sloan and Gathright both are ranked within the top 10 nationally, but are also joined by two other teammates in this elite company.

Junior Katie Thurbon will enter the national championships with the third highest mark in the NAIA in the pole vault and freshman Avery Parker sits one spot behind No. 6 Gathright in the triple jump. Sloan rounds out the Wildcats’ top 10 with the fourth fastest time in the 60-meter hurdles.

Thurbon and junior Stephanie Nelson achieved All-American honors during the indoor championships in 2012, but the Wildcats will look to add more names to the list Saturday.