Defenders break records at nationals

Mikaela Van Soelen — Staff Writer

Contributed Photo

The Track and Field team broke Dordt history at the NAIA National Track &

Field competition. On March 3-6, both men and women competed at Mount Marty in Yankton,

South Dakota. Teams from all around the nation came to compete for national titles.

The weekend began with eager expectations from the Dordt University team on Wednesday

afternoon after a successful conference meet a few weeks prior. The men’s team came into the

meet ranked second in the nation, and the women ranked fifth. Both teams managed to

accomplish their rankings, making it the best seen placement in Dordt’s Track and Field

program history.

The men’s team held their position as runners up overall and ended on a tight finish, just 4.5 points under Indiana Tech. Ten of Dordt’s male athletes received All-American status with highlights in

the 4×400 relay, the 4×800, and the Distance Medley Relay. The men’s team had some outstanding

individual performances. Senior Mathew Van Eps maintained his national champion streak in the 800-meter dash for his third season in a row. Sophomores Payton Mauldin and Cole Zevenbergern also placed fifth and second in the 600-meter dash. Senior Jacob Vander Plaats was also able to score fifth place in the mile. Sophomore Grant Brouwer lead the team in field events, placing fifth in high jump.

Eight of the women’s athletes received All-American performance standards. The team saw

strong performances in the long-sprint/mid-distance events. The 600-meter dash had a strong

representation for the Dordt team with senior Mika Koistra, senior Annika Rick, and junior Anmarie Stuit placing third, fourth, and fifth respectively.

Senior Emma Bakker also finished runner-up in the 400-meter open. Sophomore Bethany Ten Haken  took eighth place in the open 800-meter race. Both the 4×400 relay and the Distance Medley placed in their events, putting the team in a great overall finishing score.

The nationals meet did have some changes this year due to COVID-19. The NAIA required athletes to be

tested for COVID-19 multiple times in order to compete in their events. While the event had no spectators, NAIA did provide a live-stream for fans. Aside from the restriction set on

this year’s national meet, the athletes were able to show up with strong performances and cheer each other on throughout the duration of the meet. Teammates and fans back at watched the live-stream in the Dordt Grille and Kuiper Loft.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to compete at nationals in these uncertain times. It was a special day for our team.” said Coach Heynen.

 Both Coach Heynen and Coach Wolf said they felt impressed by the performances of the weekend. Each continued to show the grit and dedication of the athletes. Not only did the track athletes have success, Coach Wolf also received the National Assistant Coach of the year just days after nationals.

The Defenders performed to the best of their abilities, with performances setting the team up

for an exciting outdoor season. Outdoor track and field will begin in late March as the athletes

prepare for more tough competition ahead. A several members of the team are anticipating the

cross-country nationals held on April 9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

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