Men’s team makes history with triple crown

Junior Jeremy Gathright anchored the men’s 4x400-meter relay that took first place at the meet Saturday. Gathright was named Most Valuable Athlete for his performance in the meet.

Junior Jeremy Gathright anchored the men’s 4x400-meter relay that took first place at the meet Saturday. Gathright was named Most Valuable Athlete for his performance in the meet. Rick Kristoffersen

The Baker University track and field team had the goal of becoming Heart of America Athletic Conference champions on both the men’s and women’s sides from the beginning of the season.

The Wildcats achieved this goal Saturday at the HAAC Championships in Lamoni, Iowa, and head coach Zach Kindler used one word to describe the athletes’ performances: remarkable.

“It’s pretty remarkable how our athletes were able to step up and perform at the HAAC Championship meet in the heat and humidity that they had to do it in,” Kindler said. “A lot of them had multiple events they were competing in, and so it was really remarkable on how they were able to withstand that and how determined they were to be able to go after that conference title.”

By clinching the championship, the men’s team swept all three HAAC titles this year and earned Baker’s first triple crown.

“No Baker team has ever had the triple crown,” junior Jeremy Gathright said. “To be the first team to do that is something we are really proud of and are going to remember forever.”

The team claimed nine event championships and Gathright was named the meet’s Most Valuable Athlete for his performance.

Gathright scored more points than any other HAAC athlete by finishing first in the 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, long jump and the triple jump. Gathright was also a member of the winning 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay teams.

With a 54-point margin over Central Methodist University, the team knew it had won the conference title before the conclusion of the meet, so the ’Cats crowded at midfield as the 4x400-meter relay team ran the final event.

“When I was coming down the home stretch everybody was on the sidelines cheering,” Gathright said. “It was exciting. I had to take a moment to myself and just thank God for the opportunity to do this and allowing us to accomplish a goal that we had since the beginning of the year.”

After day one, the women’s team trailed Central Methodist by five points. However, the team claimed 10 event titles and pulled away from the Eagles in day two with a 110-point margin of victory.

“Everybody worked really hard and supported each other at the meet,” freshman Tyler Sloan said. “Everybody did their personal best and contributed a lot to our title.”

Sloan led the women with three event championships and was a member of two top relay teams.

The nine athletes who have met the qualifying standard in their respective event or events will compete in the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 24-26 in Marion, Ind.

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