Teresa Taylor — Staff writer
Dordt University Men’s Track and Field team won the 2023 Great Plains Athletic Conference Indoor Championship on Feb. 18, hosted by Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. The men competed in 16 out of 19 events and finished with a total 204.5 points.
“We knew we would have to overperform in order to beat Doane,” senior Davis Tebben said.
Though the men’s team celebrated a conference win in 2021, Doane University has a reputation of winning it. When head men’s and women’s track and field head coach Craig Heynen reviewed the scores, he realized Doane had fulfilled their projected score with a total 194 points.
“Doane had a great meet, and we still beat them,” Heynen said. “It’s not because they did worse than expected. They did great, and we still won.”
The team exceeded the projections and scored 25 percent more points than they had predicted, according to Tebben.
“It was just a really great day all around,” senior Thaniel Schroeder said, “and each person in their different events just pulled together, picked up some points here, some points there.”
Though Heynen and the other coaches push the team to do well as individuals, they also encourage members to compete for the team, and the men take the initiative to work together.
“You can never be the best that you can be by yourself,” Heynen said. “I think a lot of times, it’s learning from their teammates.”
Heynen commended the upperclassmen for their influences on the program, as well as the underclassmen for stepping up to the standard the team has formed.
Junior Trey Engen set the meet record for the one-mile race with a time of 4:14.62. Junior Peter Shippy qualified for his third NAIA event with a time of 4:15.35. Senior Joe Anderson finished in third less than a second later with 4:15.76.
Senior Davis Tebben finished first in the 5k race and set a stadium record of 14:58.49, 0.9 seconds faster than the previous record. Schroeder finished second with 15:14.99. Sophomore Aidan Vorster followed in third with 15:20.45; junior Ethan Summerhays fourth with 15:30.53, and senior Jacob Brouwer finished fifth with 15:35.75.
“In the 5k, it’s not as much racing each other as getting each other to the finish line, working together,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder placed the same as he had in 2022 in both the 5k and the 3k. This year, however, only Dordt runners finished ahead of him.
“It’s good to see that the only guys who are going to beat you are your teammates,” Schroeder said.
Senior Joe Anderson finished first in the 3k race with 8:37.88. Junior Peter Shippy finished second with 8:39.36; Tebben third with 8:44.21; Vorster fourth with 8:44.52, and Schroeder came in fifth in 8:45.14.
The rest of the team surrounded the track during the race to cheer on their runners, encouraging them to finish strong and keep ahead of the Doane runners.
“I’ve never had a distance race that was that hype,” Schroeder said.
With one event left after the 3k, Schroeder and his teammates knew they had scored enough points to win the conference. After the meet ended and the team accepted the trophy, Heynen cartwheeled to celebrate.
Junior Payton Mauldin received the award for Men’s Athlete of the Meet. In the span of an hour and a half, he finished first in the 400m with 48.81, the 600m with 1:22.63, and the 800m with 1:56.41.
“It was cool to be recognized as the athlete of the meet,” Mauldin said, “but I was happier that the team was able to win. Knowing how much time and effort the team puts in on a daily basis makes this win pretty sweet.”
The track team will conclude their indoor season at the NAIA Indoor Championships at South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD, March 2-4.