2016 Track and Field
Reese and Gonzalez top field at HCAC Championships
April 30, 2016
BLUFFTON, Ohio - Bluffton University’s Alumni Field at Salzman Stadium was the scene of the HCAC Outdoor Track & Field Conference Championship Friday and Saturday, April 29-30. Playing host for the first time in over a decade, the Beavers took pride in competing on home turf as they “put the hammer down.”
In a show of force, the men’s hammer squad dominated the competition. Senior Edgar Gonzalez (Melvindale, Mich./Melvindale) bested the field of 29 competitors with a toss of 167’ 2” to be crowned champion. Fellow senior Alex Parker (Alger/Upper Scioto Valley), throwing a PR of his own, came in 2nd while senior Aron Gibson (Caledonia/River Valley) and junior DiVaunta Spearman (Sandusky/Willard), also bringing their best on championship day, placed 7th and 8th, respectively.
Sophomore D’Nae Reese (Columbus/Upper Arlington) made a statement as well, crushing the discus field of 23 with a PR 134’ 11” performance that was more than 10 feet further than her nearest competitor, and breaking her own school record set earlier this season. Reese put in a strong showing in shot put as well where she placed 3rd in a field of 21, then returned to the ring to take 6th in a field of 20 in hammer. Additional points-paying positions in field events were earned by Gonzalez who placed 7th in men’s shot put; freshman Sarah Oliver (Lexington), 6th pole vault; sophomore Kyle Knezovich (Utica), 5th pole vault, freshman Maelinn DeLong (Archbold/Bryan), 8th shot put (PR) and sophomore Erick Benge (Monrovia, Ind./Monrovia), 8th javelin. DeLong also posted a PR in discus with freshman Zach Pachis (Massillon/Massillon Christian) putting out his best effort to date in shot.
The track events saw a number of superlative performances as well. In a quick-from-the-gun 1500 meter field that saw the top eight women all break five minutes, junior Anna Hairston (Mansfield/Ontario) re-established her school record with a 6th place 4:58.60 clocking. Hairston returned to the track later in the day in the 5,000 meter race where she placed 5th in 18:41.92. Junior Jack Fisher (Norwalk/St. Paul) posted a pair of quality performances, placing 2nd in the men’s 1500 and 3rd at the 800 meter distance. After posting a PR 11.18 over 100 meters in the preliminary round Friday, sophomore Thaddeus Phillips (South Bend, Ind./Riley) took 3rd in Saturday’s final, returning to the track for the final of the 200 where he placed 8th. A fellow speedster, freshman Keturah Warlick (East Point, Mich./Clintondale), also advanced to the final of both sprint events, placing 4th in the 100 and 5th in the 200, after having posted a PR 26.68 clocking in the prelims. Junior Terrill Webb (Kenton), a true team player after struggling with her premier event, pole vault, made her contribution on the track with a 4th place finish in the 200, having run a PR 26.87 on Friday to advance to the final. Fellow vaulter Knezovich also does his share of heavy lifting in track events, advancing to the final in both the 110 and 400 meter hurdles where he placed 5th and 4th, respectively, posting a PR 15.98 in the prelims of the high hurdles. Both Webb and Knezovich are also key personnel in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 meter relays. Sophomore Elaina Alpeter (Galloway/Hilliard Bradley) took points for the team in Friday’s 25-lap, 10,000 meter race, placing 7th. Alpeter also raced Saturday’s 5,000 where she posted her outdoor best time for the distance.
While coming shy of top-8 finishes, some significant PR performances were achieved. Sophomore Kris Lyons (Vickery/Margaretta) obliterated his previous best over 10,000 meters, dropping a full three minutes to clock 33:31.81 in Friday’s competition where he placed 10th. Like Alpeter, Lyons did the grueling double, taking the track in Saturday’s 5,000 meter race where he again posted a PR of 16:10, a 37-second improvement to place 13th in a field of 28. Freshman Jennie Matteson (Guysville/Alexander) also PR’d in her 5,000 effort as did sophomore Alissa Hauke (Hillsboro) and freshman Daniel Gregg (Ontario/Mansfield Christian) in the 1500.
“After all the planning and work it took to stage this 2-day event, it was very exciting to see our athletes perform so well,” said Head Coach Karen Brandt. “The men’s hammer crew blew me away with their tour-de-force and I just loved getting a bear hug from each of those big men as well as Coach Fisher. D’Nae is one of the sweetest, kindest souls you will meet, but put her in a ring and she becomes a beast! Lyons has struggled mightily for the past year and half so to time his race as it unfolded was pure pleasure to this old distance coach. To watch athlete after athlete step up and put it all out there, many of them in multiple events, for their own pride as well as for the sake of the team, made me so proud to be their head coach. Not only do I have great athletes, I am also surrounded by an outstanding group of coaches who humble me by how good they make me look. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the quality group of officials from throughout Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky who assembled here to offer their expertise. And I can’t say enough for the amazing Bluffton University campus community who answered the call and for two days, Saturday in a continuous rain, worked tirelessly to make this meet a reality. We often say at Bluffton that it’s all about the people and this weekend showed me once again how true it is. All walks of campus came together: faculty, staff, heads of departments, vice presidents, coaches, athletes from other teams, members of the student body at large, alumni, custodial, grounds crew, even relatives of employees and local coaches. They all played a critical part in the success of the event. Bluffton is truly a special place.”
The HCAC championship concludes Bluffton's regular season. Terrill Webb will continue preparations for competition in pole vault at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championship, hosted by Wartburg College (Iowa) May 26-28.