Bri Gardner — Staff writer
Dordt University’s Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams opened their outdoor season on March 24 and 25 at Wayne State University’s Wildcat Classic. The team competed in 42 out of the 47 events held. Dordt won eight of the events and scored well in several additional events. These results are significant for Dordt as they consider the beginning of their outdoor season. While many schools were privileged to begin practicing for the outdoor season early, the shift has been difficult for Dordt.
The snow on the ground has not been conducive to outdoor practices, leaving many track and field athletes unable to practice their events to their full potential.
Tara Horstman, a freshman thrower on the women’s team, competes in three of the four throwing events offered. She has found it difficult to transition from the indoor to the outdoor season due to weather conflicts.
“For runners, the weather doesn’t really change much,” Horstman said. “For throwers, not being able to throw before your meet makes it kind of difficult.”
One of the events Horstman competes in, the hammer, is what she describes as “a shot put with a wire attached to it.” Due to the nature of this event, the hammer can only be released outdoors, meaning the Wildcat Classic was the first opportunity Horstman had to wind up and release the hammer.
The head coach of men’s and women’s track and field, Craig Heynen, is trying to look to the positive side of the season.
“We can look up north and think, ‘Hey, we’re actually doing pretty good!’” Heynen said.
After talking with several other coaches, Heynen discovered some schools may not even be able to compete in most of the outdoor events. Jamestown University is among these schools. They may not get the opportunity to compete in any of their outdoor sports in March or April due to the significant amount of snow in Jamestown, North Dakota.
Heynen and his athletes were supposed to head to Mankato, Minnesota for a track meet in March, but event schedulers cancelled the meet when they realized there was too much snow on the ground for any outdoor events.
Regardless, most of Dordt’s athletes are still managing to make the most out of the season. The men’s team won seven of the eight titles — three running, two field, and two relay events. The women’s team won the other title in the 4×400 relay.
In addition to their successful showing at the Wildcat Classic, Dordt’s men’s XC/T&F is ranked first in the USTFCCCA’s (U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association) NAIA program of the year standings. Women’s XC/T&F is also on the list, ranking twelfth.
While the rankings are subject to change, coach Heynen is hopeful for the rest of this track and field season.
“For the men’s team, this is the best we’ve ever done. The team has more depth and quality than teams in previous years,” Heynen said. “The women’s team is very good also, ending third in our conference.”
With the addition of more distance events in the outdoor season, Heynen believes the men and women can both continue to produce a good showing for the rest of their events, leading up to the national championships May 24-26.
Photo credit: Dordt University Athletics