Written by Brian Patton. Media by Logan Nelson.
It has been said, “A track meet is a lot like life.” You take the good. You take the bad. You take them both and there you have what happens over the course of a full day track meet. This past weekend the men’s and women’s track teams traveled to compete in the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Indoor Championships hosted by Olivet Nazarene University. In order to compete in the two-day competition, student-athletes had to meet qualifying marks in all individual events. The Panthers were represented by 41 qualifiers and relay entrants.
Prior to the meets start, senior Josh Kuusisto was the lone GC athlete atop the leader board. Kuusisto, has had great success specializing in his favorite event, the 35lb weight throw. After an early scratch, Josh took control of the event throwing 58’7” and winning the event for the second consecutive year. Josh is currently seeded tenth amongst NCAA DIII throwers. Josh was accompanied by teammate Bryan Waugh who also scored in the event while throwing 49’9 to finish with a personal best and sixth place finish.
Maggie McMurtrey, a senior focusing on the 20lb weight throw got off to a great start posting an early throw of 50’11 before finishing fourth for the third consecutive year. Freshman newcomer Sierah Ruffner jumped to fourth place in the high jump.
The largest contingent of Panthers qualifying for the championships were a part of the sprints corp. Led by junior Bruce Gray, the sprinters ran themselves into the record books in two events. First, Gray and junior Dmitri Holman qualified on Friday night for the 60 Meter finals with times of 6.88 and 6.95 respectively. Just missing the finals were seniors Josh Garcia (7.08) and Ryan St Hill (7.09). Later in the evening, the same four partnered to break the school record in the 4×200. Their time of 1:29.53 earned the team All American status by way of their second place finish.
While most athletes specialize in certain disciplines, Taylor Brunner has made a name for herself in the pentathlon. Brunner has set the school record for most points in the pentathlon in every meet she has ever contested the event. Taylor led in the five event contest until the very end of the last event as she relinquished the lead during the 800M run and finished second by a mere 8 points. Brunner set records in the high jump and long jump on way to her school record score of 3203 points which currently ranks her nineteenth in the NCAA DIII standings.
Jarrid Williams rounded out the men’s scoring on Friday night with a surprising sixth place finish in the long jump with a season best jump of 21’5”. And the women’s Distance Medley Relay (DMR) comprised of Rosie Baker, Chelsea Gilles, Taylor Thomas and Molly Works ran 40 seconds faster than their previous season best to end their indoor campaign on a positive note.
The Panthers picked up Saturday where they left off the night before and again were led by sprint standout Bruce Gray. Gray finished second in both the 60M dash and the 200M dash. He currently owns the 1st, 4th, 5th and 10th fastest times in all of NCAA DIII. Bruce’s time of 21.77 in the 200M dash broke his previous school and has him currently .34 faster than any DIII competitor.
Senior Josh Dees led the 4×800 to a surprising finish. The quartet of Dees, Nathan Allyn, Treyvon Manning and Ray Hingson finished just off the podium in 4th place. The men ran strong and were a mere .48 off of second place in the 3200 meter race. And freshman Roosevelt McNeil who had a season best on Friday night in the 60M hurdles (8.72) contributed to the team on Saturday as well by way of his 6th place finish in the triple jump with a hop, skip and jump of 42’4”.
The most pole vaulters we have ever had represent GC at any one time has been – one! This weekend the men had three qualifiers and all jumped at or better than their previous indoor bests. Coached by the injured Alex Staton– Logan Nelson, Mitchel Olsen and Anthony Yates look to strengthen our reputation in the vault. The men’s 4×400 (Treyvon Manning, Branden Niehaus, Dmitri Holman and Bruce Gray) competing in the last event of the day clocked a season best 3:28.36, finishing sixth in the two-heat final.
In the team competition the men scored 53 points, placing 7th behind winner Shorter University of Georgia who scored 145. The Lady Panthers accumulated 19 points to finish 12th in the two day competition.
The quote, “A Track meet is a lot like life,” proved true this weekend. A lot of hard work had gone in to preparing for the weekend’s competition and while many left Bourbonnais content with their performance there were some who traveled home with the taste of goals yet to be satisfied.
Our first home meet in 18 years will be held on Saturday, April 5th. The meet will begin at 11am and continue throughout the afternoon. Schools competing include: Washington University, Illinois Wesleyan University, Olivet Nazarene, Lindenwood MO, Illinois College, Maryville University, Hannibal LaGrange, Principia, Fontbonne.
Check out this highlight video from the weekend! Video made by Logan Nelson.