Select athletes from the Baker University track and field team traveled north this weekend to face tough competition in the Jayhawk Classic, hosted by the University of Kansas.
The men and women competed against a mixture of NCAA Division I and II teams, NAIA teams and several community college squads. Head coach Zach Kindler said the teams traveled a limited number of athletes to allow others to rest and have a weekend off from competition.
"The meet gave us a great opportunity to see some conference schools," Kindler said. "We hung in very well with some events and with some others we realized we have hard work ahead of us to get to where we want to be."
Kindler said freshman Reggie Harris was a highlight on the men's side. Harris finished eighth in the triple jump, 14th in the long jump and nearly qualified for indoor nationals in the 60-meter dash.
"He almost hit a national qualifying time in the 60-meter dash," Kindler said. "For a freshman, he really had a great showing."
Harris ran a time of 7.09 seconds and said he was .08 seconds from the national qualifying time. He said the meet gave him confidence for a bright future.
"Knowing that I've gotten this close and I'm just a freshman makes it endless possibilities," Harris said. "I'm hoping that in the next few weeks that I'm going to be able to make nationals."
Also for the men, senior Brian Korn placed seventh in the shot put and eighth in the weight throw.
"I think we're (the men's team) doing pretty good," Harris said. "Everybody's putting out great effort, but just that little push for people to step up together will make us all do great."
On the women's side, Kindler said he is starting to see gains, however not as quickly as he, or the team, would like.
"We're hoping they continue to work hard in practice and get stronger," Kindler said. "It's going to happen, we just need to get a few kids healed up and we're going to be right where we want."
Freshman Kayla Grafel finished 10th in the long jump and was pleasantly surprised with her finish against tough competition.
"I didn't make finals, but I was pretty close," Grafel said. "I felt like my performance was ok but not my best. I have a lot to learn since I'm going from high school to the college level now."
Freshman Shayna Mangiaracino finished just behind Grafel in the long jump at 11th place. Also for the women, senior Kayla Irwin came away with 12th place in the pole vault and senior Carrie Lister threw for a 13th spot in the shot put.