Track team brings the heat at Nationals

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Maisha Mitchell (right front), Chelsey Borders (left front), Molly Plummer (back right) and Jodi Young (back left) work on conditioning. Photo by Michael House

By Julius Williams

The college men’s and women’s track teams performed well at the recent NJCAA Indoor Champion­ships at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. with the women plac­ing seventh overall and the men plac­ing 12th.

“Overall it was pretty good,” said Mike Bloemker, head coach. “We have four to six athletes in every event that contribute to the team’s success.”

Stand out performances came from a variety of team members. Six mem­bers earned NJCAA and Coaches’ All-American honors, including sophomore Ashley Reid (high jump/triple jump), sophomore Kaylee Eklund (pole vault), sophomore Justin Podvin (600 meters), sopho­more Alex Sanders (60 meter dash), sophomore Javier Segura (3,000 me­ters) and sophomore Garrett Smith (pole vault).

The relay teams also had a strong showing with the women’s 4×800 placing fifth nationally, and the men’s placing fourth nationally in both the 4×400 and 4×800. The women sprint­ers were Danielle Houltberg, Kirstie Sanders, Michelle Smith and Kayla Peterson. Alex Sanders, Mark Sitek, Kenny Lightner and Jordan Dodd made up the men’s sprint relay team.

“Guys and girls have been compara­ble all year,” said Tom Lester, assistant coach. “We were really pleased that the [men’s] 4×800 placed fourth in a slow heat, which is nearly impossible to do.”

Joe Turner (right) pulls against Mark Sample during track practice and general con¬ditioning on Tuesday March 20 to get built back up after ending the first half of the season strong at NJCAA Indoor Championships. Photo by Michael House

The season is not over though. The NJCAA Indoor Championships are held midseason, so the teams still have a lot of hard work ahead.

Assistant coach Brian Batliner, who trains the jumpers, vaulters and heptathletes, is already preparing his athletes for the next meet.

“We are done with indoors,” Batliner said. “We will keep it light this week and relax. Then we’ll start ramp­ing it back up next week. The first [outdoor] meet will be in Fayetteville, Arkansas in four weeks.”

Batliner said that moving from indoors to outdoors will not change their training methods. For him, it is simply getting back to basics.

“The next couple of weeks we will go back to basics and do general conditioning the way we started back in the fall and build them back up,” he said.

Bloemker, while looking forward to giving his players some much needed time off, echoed the same sentiment.

“We are halfway through the season, and we are adding personnel,” he said. “We are stronger in the throws than we’ve been in years and that’s gonna help because we can spread out to the javelin and the discus.”

Lester agreed.

“The 4×100 is an event that we will be strong in, and in the 4×800, Mr. Segura will be able to step in and help our team that finished 4th indoors and hopefully make that even higher,” he said.

Bloemker and the rest of the coach­ing staff are proud of their team’s performance and have high hopes for the rest of the season.

“Once again, it’s a team effort,” Bloemker said. “We are a really well-balanced team. That’s good because everybody gets to know each other. Everybody contributes.”

Contact Julius Williams, staff reporter, at jwilli78@jccc.edu.

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