The Chadron State College track and field teams may not finish high in the team standings, but the Eagles’ new coach, Riley Northrup, is confident they’ll have some strong individual performances and his athletes will give it their all during the RMAC Indoor Championships at Colorado School of Mines in Golden this weekend.
Northrup notes that the Eagles have improved as the season has progressed and most of them are healthy and eager to compete.
Approximately 25 Eagles have qualified for the championships. This is the first year qualification became necessary. In order to earn a ticket, the athletes have to rank among the top 18 in their event(s).
For several of the Eagles that was no problem, they are high on their lists. For others, they have used recent meets to reach their peak and qualify.
Northrup notes that three women who otherwise would not have qualified, did so at the Black Hills State Stinger Meet on Saturday and are now be on the bus that leaves for Golden on Thursday morning.
They are Michelle Carbajal in the triple jump, Erin Graham in both the triple and long jumps and Katelyn Wheeler in the high jump.
Carbajal demonstrated last year that good things can happen at the conference meet. She jumped 13 inches farther than she’d gone previously during the 2017 season and won the silver medal with a mark of 36-8 ½.
Entering the Stinger Meet, Carbajal’s best this season was 33-11, but she hit 35-7 ½ Saturday and is now 10th on the triple jump chart, helping CSC have three qualifiers in both the women’s long and triple jumps.
Most of CSC’s leaders on the charts entering this weekend’s showdown are throwers and jumpers.
On the men’s side, Cory Martens is first, Jesse Bleidt third and Blake Jacobs fourth in the weight throw and Martens is third and Jacobs fifth in the shot put. In addition, freshman Isaac Grimes is the long jump leader and ranks fourth in the triple jump.
Also, sophomore Javan Lanier is third in the 60-meter dash and the gifted Grimes, who has entered the sprint only twice early in the season, is ninth.
The Eagles will also have three veterans—Austin Fajfer, Cody Davis and Cory Salitrik—in the 400 and sophomore Justin Leman in the 60 high hurdles, where he has the sixth fastest time.
Leman is also sixth in the heptathlon standings and placed fourth in the event last year. CSC’s Chasity Horton, was fourth in the pentathlon a year ago and is fifth in the pre-meet list. Neither has entered a multi competition since December.
Lady Eagles Ashlyn Hanson and Ashton Hallsted are the RMAC pacesetters in the weight throw. Northrup also believes seniors Alisha Heelan and Cassie Johnson, who are fourth and fifth in the 400 list, have a good chance of placing high because of their experience and determination as they near the end of their collegiate careers and their times get faster.
The Chadron State women finished third in the team standings at last year’s indoor championships with 106.5 points. Many of those points were earned by “the big three,” Mel Herl, the winner of both the shot put and weight throw; Stachia Reuwsaat, who won the long jump and was second in the 60 meters; and Tessa Gorsuch, the gold medalist in the high hurdles.
Two weeks later, the trio combined for five All-American honors and placed third again, this time at the National Indoor Championships while winning Chadron State’s first national team trophy in any sport other than rodeo.
That “once in a generation” experience is expected to happen again this year, but both the men and the women seem likely to score in quite a few events at the conference showdown. It’s also hoped that several of them can add a few inches to their throws or jumps and advance to the national championships.
The Eagles have met the provisional qualifying standards in 10 times this winter, but so far have not nailed down any automatic qualifying slots.