Top-three finish for track teams

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Stephanie Rusnak, JaBryanna Wellington:Junior Stephanie Rusnak hands off the baton to freshman JaBryanna Wellington during practice in Collins Center to prepare for the 4x400 relay in the HAAC Championships. The men?s and women?s teams both placed third in the conference indoor meet Friday and Saturday in Lamoni, Iowa. It was the first time in team history both squads have placed in the top three in the conference indoor meet.:Baker Orange

The Baker University men's and women's track and field teams both placed third at the HAAC Indoor Championships Friday and Saturday in Lamoni, Iowa, with five individual event champions.

"We were anticipating a top-three finish on both sides," head coach Zach Kindler said, "So I was very pleased with how we performed this weekend."

Freshmen Stephanie Nelson and Katie Thurbon, Baker Orange staff writer, led the way for the women. 

"There were definitely some wow-factors (over the weekend) like Stephanie Nelson," Kindler said. "She threw about a meter and a half farther than she has all indoor season."

Nelson was the event champion in the shot put, with a throw of 13.04 meters.

Thurbon had a first-place finish in the pole vault, with a mark of 3.43 meters.

"The feeling is nice," Nelson said. "But I know I still have a long way to go and just need to work on getting better and better."

Kindler said freshman Hannah Moore and senior Mary Loveland, Baker Orange staff memner, had notable performances for the women as well.

Moore placed in the 55-meter hurdles, the 55-meter dash, the 200 meter dash and participated in the 4x400 meter relay.

Loveland placed third in the 5K and 3K with times of 19:33.43 and 11:16.16, respectively.

The men's team was led by first-place finishes from sophomore Jeremy Gathright in the triple jump, senior Jason Robbs in the weight throw and senior Aaron Hannon in the heptathlon.

Hannon was the heptathlon event champion after finishing first in five of the seven events, with a final score of 4,977.

"It has been a goal of mine, since the beginning of the year, to go to conference and be the champion overall in the heptathlon," Hannon said. "So, it was good to achieve that goal."

In two weeks, eight individuals will head to Geneva, Ohio, for the NAIA Indoor Championships.

Thurbon, Nelson, Gathright, Robbs and Hannon have qualified for the national meet, as well as senior thrower Carrie Lister, junior thrower Jeremiah Korn and junior sprinter J.L. Anderson.

Four athletes for the men's team will head to nationals ranked within the top 10 in their fields.

Hannon is ranked third in the heptathlon, Gathright is ranked fourth in the triple jump, Korn is ranked fourth in the shot put and Robbs is ranked 10th in the weight throw.

The Wildcats' first outdoor meet will be the Baker Relays March 26 at Liston Stadium.

"Indoor is just kind of a preparation for us," Kindler said. "And, so we are utilizing that to just kind of spring board us into the outdoor season."

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