Men’s track wins sixth straight Heart title

Story by Bailey Conklin, Sports Editor

The men’s outdoor track & field team won its sixth-straight Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship on Saturday at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Head coach Ryan Pitts earned the Heart Men’s Outdoor Track & Field Coach of the Year award. Pitts earned the 2016 Heart Men’s Indoor Track & Field Coach of the Year award earlier this year.

The men’s team finished with 178.5 points, 38 points in front of second-place Graceland University. Senior Dayshawn Berndt earned the Men’s Track Athlete of the Year award after taking first in the men’s 200-meter dash with a time of 21.58.

Two athletes on the men’s team broke school records at the meet. Junior Tyler Randall broke the program record for the men’s 800-meter with a time of 1:54.91. Senior Jesse Matthews broke the program record for the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.86.

Randall broke two school records during the indoor season this year and was also part of a relay team that broke a school record at the Kansas Relays this year. For Randall it has never been about hitting a qualifying time.

“It’s just been about going out there and doing what the coaches ask of me, and because of their training it’s happened,” Randall said. “When I hit that time, I felt on top of the world, and it was amazing, but I never went into the race trying to just go for the school record.”

Junior Jamie Steury took home first place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in a time of 9:55.63. In field events, senior Josh Peck captured an individual championship in the men’s discus throw with a distance of 51.74 meters.

The women’s outdoor team finished in fourth place behind Grand View University, which took home first place, followed by Benedictine and MNU.

Freshman Gloria Mares earned the Women’s Track Athlete of the Year award and won the 200-meter dash in a time of 25.01. Sophomore Brenda McCollum took home first place in the 5,000-meter race walk with a time of 27:59.19.

The Baker track team has seen three different coaches in the past three years. Randall believes that with different coaches the key to success is having faith in the program.

“With each different coach, they’ve had different coaching strategies, so the key to success for me has just been buying into the program.” Randall said. “Doing whatever they ask whenever they ask.”

Randall also believes the “team feel” is beneficial to his personal success.

“I have my entire Baker community, my team around me cheering me on. They’re lining the track yelling,” Randall said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have gotten any of the school records I have this year.”

Some members of the men’s and women’s teams will both travel to Emporia, Kansas, where they will compete in the Emporia State University Last Chance meet on May 14. This meet will give more Baker athletes a chance to qualify for nationals in certain events as well as compete for better positions at nationals.

“The biggest goal is for our 4×400, the relay team that set the school record a couple weekends ago at KU Relays,” Randall said. “We’re hoping to make finals and during finals at Nationals give those bigger schools like Indiana Tech a run for their money and try to place really high in finals and become All-Americans as a team.”