Dordt track leaves mark at nationals

Christian Zylstra – Staff Writer

While the Dordt Defenders did not win any events, they set a number of school records and had several athletes receive All-American honors at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field competition in Geneva, Ohio on March 6-8.4x800Teams

“Overall, we performed really well,” said Dordt College track and field coach Craig Heynen. “Almost every performance was a school record. Everyone performed as well as or better than I could have hoped for.”

On day one of the action, the Defenders started off with a bang. New school records were set in four different events: Lauren Opp set a record in the women’s 5000-meter race with a time of 17:29.31. Kelsey Lewis, Kayla Byl, Lillie Koerner and Katie Bonnema set a record in the women’s 4 x 800 relay with a time of 9:03.56, which broke the previous record by nearly 24 seconds. Jordyn Visscher, Siera Wilgenburg, Justine Van Zee and Abby De Vries set a record in the women’s distance medley with a time of 12:08.09. Sam Wensink, Stephan McNamara, Nick Vander Kooi and Tim Bierma earned a record in the men’s 4 x 800 relay with a time of 7:38.23. Each event qualified for the finals.

Day two of the action was not quite as spectacular, but the Defenders still had several quality outings. The women’s 4 x 800 relay team finished second in the nation and broke its own school record with a new time of 8:59. The men’s 4 x 800 relay team followed up the women’s performance with a seventh-place finish and a time of 7:44.25. The two relay teams received All-American honors for their performances. Katie Bonnema also had the fastest preliminary time in the women’s 600-meter race with a time of 1:32.

The final day of action saw Dordt’s women’s distance medley relay team finish sixth with a time of 12:09.76; All-American honors were given to the team for its performance. Katie Bonnema tried to defend her title in the women’s 600-meter final, but came up short and settled for third with a time of 1:31.16, which was faster than her winning time of 1:31.53 last year. Bonnema received All-American honors as well.

Dordt enjoyed the success of the indoor season, even though it did not result in any first-place finishes on the national level.

“Competition was as high as it has ever been, and the quality of teams were as high as they’ve ever been,” Heynen said.

Even against tough competition, the record-setting performances by the team were of no surprise to Heynen.

“Going into the season, we knew we had talent throughout. We had a lot of potential, and we felt we had the chance for our relays and some individuals to make the finals,” Heynen said.

Dordt now hopes to build off the success from the indoor season and apply it to the upcoming outdoor season.

“I’m really excited for outdoor [track],” Heynen said. “The indoor performances were a reflection of our team. It was one of the best indoor seasons ever for us, and we want to carry that over into the outdoor season. We have some momentum in the throw (discus and shot-put) with a new coach (Joe Snyder), and we have some really talented basketball girls who will be joining the team for the outdoor season.”

If the indoor season is any indication of what the outdoor season may hold, Dordt officials better hope the record books were written with pencil.

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