As the Baker University track and field team approaches the halfway point of its outdoor season, the Wildcats continue to face tough competition.
Both the men’s and women’s teams took a limited number of entries to the Central Methodist University Invitational April 6 in Fayette, Mo., but were still able to come away with fifth-place finishes on both sides.
“It was a down week in the amount of volume that the athletes actually competed in,” head coach Zach Kindler said. “It was good to see a lot of our athletes perform in some different events, but at the same time, I thought we competed very well.”
The men’s 4x800-meter relay squad claimed the ’Cats only event championship of the day and did so with a 15-second margin above the other teams.
Junior Jeremy Gathright led the way for the men’s team with a second-place finish in the 400-meter dash, while the women’s team saw second-place finishes from sophomore throwers Valerie Schirmer, Stephanie Nelson and Katelyn Wolken. The women’s 4x100-meter relay team also came in second with a time of 48.98.
Kindler said it was good to see the ‘Cats biggest conference rivals, Central Methodist, at the meet.
“I think it was a good wake up for us to see what they have,” Kindler said. “I think they are going to test us at every level that they can at the (Heart of America Athletic Conference Championship) and we are going to really have to be on that weekend to beat them.”
The ’Cats also competed at the Pittsburg State University Invitational March 31 in Pittsburg, where they primarily faced NCAA Division II teams.
Junior Clayton Hill said the team participates in several meets where it competes against Division II and even Division I schools to measure how they stand against tougher competition.
“We have a lot of competition against better people, so that whenever we go to conference against other NAIA schools, it seems a lot easier,” Hill said.
During the meet, Nelson finished second in the javelin and Baker Orange staff member Katie Thurbon had a second-place finish in the pole vault. Junior Aaron Caldwell led the men’s team by finishing third in the 1,500-meter run.
Sophomore Megan Rosa did not compete at Pitt State, but she did tally another national- qualifying mark and a first-place finish for the ’Cats that same weekend.
Rosa ran in the A2A Race for Mercy Half-Marathon April 1 in Ardmore, Okla., where she finished 11 minutes ahead of all other women participants.
“I actually started out probably significantly under the pace that I ran overall,” Rosa said. “I think I mostly just had to keep my eyes on the male runners who were ahead of me.”
Some members of the team are scheduled to compete at the KT Woodman Classic in Wichita Friday and Saturday while others will go to the Emporia State University Multi-Meet Thursday and Friday in Emporia.