Written and media by Mitchell Hooten.
The Greenville Men’s Track and Field had a very promising track meet with several strong performances from many athletes, which could be an indicator of goods things to come. The men’s team competed this past weekend at the Principia Relays hosted by Principia College. This meet has always been a good opportunity for the coaching staff to determine the possible outcome of the indoor season. With the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Indoor National Meet just three weeks away, there is no time to waste in attempting to hit qualifying standards necessary to participate in this meet.
The meet was different than most in that it included a heptathlon as part of the events. A heptathlon includes seven events over the course of a two-day period. Events contested include: 60-meter hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60-meter dash, pole vault, and the 1000 meter run. Greenville has had several school heptathlon records set over the two-day contest. In the first event of the day, David Martin won the 60-meter dash, followed by Matt Hughes breaking the long jump record by one centimeter and a leap of 6.04 meters. Hughes led at the end of day one, never looking back and extending his lead over the final three events. On Saturday, Martin broke his own record in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 9.06 seconds. Then, t was Hughes turn to break the pole vault record with a vault of 12’5″. By the end of the competition, the Greenville pair finished 1-2 with Hughes breaking his old heptathlon point total by way of his 4295 score. Both Hughes and Martin’s scores qualified them for the NCCAA Championships to be held later in February. They are currently ranked 2nd and 3rd in the NCCAA and 22nd and 37th in NCAA Division III.
Other highlight-worthy performances came from a multitude of athletes, including a Distance Medley Relay (DMR) that was made up of mostly seasoned veterans. John Mangold, Nathan Potts, Jaylen Shelton, and Colin Kessinger ran a strong race to place second with a time of 10:38. Also scoring well was the 4×800 relay team which placed third and included all members of the DMR, with the exception of Potts (who was out due to injury and replaced by sophomore standout Dylan Goodyear). Ben Perry made his mark by way of his second-place finish in the weight throw with a heave of 48′ 2″.
Performing in the heptathlon at the level of Hughes and Martin takes a lot of time and hard work. Being a heptathlete and a decathlete is not an easy task, and training for the competition is probably the hardest part. The training for the Heptathlon and the Decathlon involves training for seven events for the indoor heptathlon and ten for the outdoor Decathlon. This, to say the least, has given Hughes and Martin a very grueling training schedule. Both workout schedules range from weightlifting early in the morning multiple days a week to training for several events each day while sandwiching class and work in between.
Hughes and Martin were both very satisfied with their performances but felt that they could improve prior to the NCCAA Championships. In Hughes’ own words, “I felt that it went very well. I had a couple of good performances, and overall I’m very happy with how I did. But still, I have a lot of work to do before Christian Nationals.” From this, it seems there may be a bigger performance from Hughes later this season.
Martin stated, “Going into Friday for the first portion of the heptathlon, I was feeling anxious about my 60-meter race and long jump, but I was ready for the shot put and high jump. During the shot put I threw 10.71 meters which is a good throw for me. It helped boost my confidence going into Saturday. Going into Saturday, my legs were feeling heavy, but after competing I ended up getting two personal bests in the 60-meter hurdles and the pole vault. Then I ended the day with the 1000 meter run that was a consistent run, which is new for me. All in all, I was happy with my time and that Matt and I both qualified for Christian Nationals.”
Next up for the Panthers is a trip to Jacksonville, IL, and Illinois College to compete in the Dr. Jim Drew Invitational!