Christian Zylstra-Staff Writer
Dordt College hosted the 2017 Indoor Track and Field GPAC Championships for the first time since 2005 and the Defender men and women’s track teams took full advantage.
“I think it’s an advantage because everyone can sleep in their own bed, wake up, walk over [to the rec center] and compete,” said Dordt College Track and Field Head Coach Craig Heynen. “We don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. and drive four hours.”
Going into the GPAC Championship meet, Heynen figured both his men’s and women’s teams could compete to finish as one of the top three or four teams. Heynen wasn’t far off.
The Dordt College women claimed third place at the conference championship meet, while the men finished in fifth place. Doane won both the men’s and women’s overall team competition.
In the women’s competition, Dordt grabbed four first-place finishes and 16 top-five finishes overall.
Dordt College men’s indoor track and field team finished in first place on one occasion with nine top-five finishes in total.
A handful of those top finishes stand out among the rest due to their placement within the national scope.
The women’s 4×400-meter relay team of Miranda Velgersdyk, Elizabeth Rankin, Jenna Wilgenburg and Joscelyn Wind finished first in their respective event with the fifth-fastest time in the NAIA.
Sam Wensink, a senior runner, set the GPAC Championship meet record with his time and first-place finish in the men’s 800-meter event.
Several other Dordt College athletes finished with “A” standard results and qualified for the NAIA Championship meet in March.
“Everyone has been working really hard,” said sophomore runner Annechiena Knevelbaard. “We have some pretty talented people and at every track meet, someone breaks a personal record or qualifies for Nationals.”
Any team success Dordt experienced this year was the direct result of hard work and clutch performances from the individuals who make up the team’s roster.
Josiah Eckels, a senior sprinter who finished second in the men’s 400-meter dash, came away pleased with his performances this season.
“I’m happy with how the season has gone, but I still have a lot of room for improvement,” Eckels said.
With an entire outdoor season still ahead for Defender track and field, Eckels wants to focus on improving in what’s left of his collegiate athletic career.
Knevelbaard placed second in the women’s mile event and third in the women’s 1000-meter run.
“I’ve been kind of surprised with my performances this year,” Knevelbaard said. “Coming out of high school and last year’s season, I didn’t think there was any room for improvement, but there definitely is.”
Before the outdoor season begins, the Dordt College men’s and women’s indoor track and field teams will take a number of athletes, both from individual and relay events, to Johnson City, Tenn., for the NAIA Championship meet.
The NAIA Championship meet runs March 2-4.