Track teams sweep conference titles

Story by Levi Blaylock, Writer

The men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams their respective won Heart of America Athletic Conference championships on Saturday. These titles just go on top of the dynasty that the late coach Zach Kindler started at Baker. This marks the fifth-straight conference title for the men’s team and the fourth-straight for the women’s team.

Winning conference this year was more important than past years to junior Jordan Miller.

“I think it was extremely important for the team to win conference this year. Every year that’s what we prepare for all season, but this year, you know, we had extra motivation,” Miller said. “I think we proved that BU track and field is truly a family and stayed together through the adversity of the year. Coach Kindler would be proud.”

The men’s team was in a close race with conference rival Central Methodist most of they day on Saturday before pulling ahead to a final score of 199 compared to CMU’s 180.5 points.

There were plenty of great performances for the BU men. Freshman Corey Peoples won the title in the men’s shot put and junior Dayshawn Berndt finished in first place in the men’s 200-meter and 400-meter dash.

Junior Avery Parker was another athlete who was able to add to the team point total with a second-place finish in the men’s triple jump.

“No single person necessarily scored unexpected points. Everyone just had to step up,” Parker said. “We had to overcome a lot of injuries to key athletes on the team but we knew everyone was going to have to step up if we wanted to win our fifth straight outdoor title.”

Parker also spoke on the importance of winning conference this year.

“Winning conference was really important to us not only because we wanted to win the triple crown but also as a team we wanted to continue the winning legacy coach Kindler established here,” Parker said. “We wanted to win it for him.”

When asked about what sets Baker’s track program apart from the others, Parker noted the teamwork and team support that this Baker team showed.

“The support we all show each other is something I’ve never personally experienced ‘til I came to Baker. Everyone is cheering for everyone, and I think that’s what sets us apart from all the other HAAC teams,” Parker said. “That’s something else coach Kindler instilled in the team is a family attitude.”

The women’s team had a dominant conference victory with a total score of 300 points, 123 points more than second place. Juniors Jordan Miller and Billi Pipes were among the top women’s points scorers of the meet. Miller had first-place finishes in the shot put, discus, and hammer throw. Pipes saw her individual titles come in the 100 and 200 meter races and helped lead the women’s 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays to first-place finishes as well.

“Individually, I went into conference with the mindset of scoring as many points possible for the team and hopefully getting a few PRs or season’s bests out of it. I’m pretty sure that’s a mindset I shared with many of my teammates,” Miller said. “To my knowledge, mostly everyone performed as expected or better. I think a bunch of people peaked at the right time and everyone on the team showed up to compete.”

Some believe that with this season coming to an end also marks the end of an era of track and field dominance at Baker University. Despite the critics, the athletes on the team have confidence in the program going forward.

“I think the future is bright. There’s a lot of uncertainty with us not knowing about who our coaches will be next year and also there will be three new track teams added to the conference,” Parker said. “We’ve shown we can overcome obstacles before so I don’t see that changing next year. We still expect to be conference champions next year and many years down the road.”

Miller shares a similar viewpoint.

“I think BU track is going to continue being successful. We’ve got some good teams joining the conference next year, but I think that’ll challenge us even more,” Miller said. “As long as we keep doing what we know we’ll keep the tradition going.”