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Warriors excel in MSU Open & Multi

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

MANKATO, Minn. – The Waldorf College men’s track and field team set seven school records at the Minnesota State Open & Multi during the weekend.

Returning from winter break two weeks ago marked the first full week of practices for the Warriors. More recovery time enabled them to achieve further success in their third meet of the indoor season.

“The plan for the meet this last weekend was to focus on just a few events,” Waldorf coach Kelsey Riggins said. “They each did less than they do in a typical meet, kind of a reset for their legs and mind to come into the next few weeks ready to really put in some work.”

Mark Ahlers broke the school record in the 600-meter run, turning in a time of 1 minute, 26.6 seconds to earn a fifth-place finish. The freshman from Sheldon now holds the fastest times in the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) in both the 600 and 800 this season.

“It was Mark’s first time racing the 600, which is always a learning experience,” Riggins said. “His time will continue to improve as he learns more about the race itself.”

Freshman Justin Jacobi became the first-ever athlete to represent the Warriors in the heptathlon. Jacobi competed in the 60-meter dash, long jump, shot put and high jump on Friday. Saturday’s events included the 60 high hurdles, 1,000 and pole vault.

“Being a multi-event athlete takes a certain kind of athlete,” Riggins said. “They compete in seven events all within 24 hours.”

Each event has a formula that uses a heptathlete’s performance to determine the number of points scored in the event. The sum of the scores accounts for the overall score. Jacobi earned 3,692 points to secure ninth place.

The heptathlon marked Jacobi’s first appearances in the 60-meter dash, 1,000, long jump and pole vault. Jacobi set personal records in the high jump, 60 high hurdles and shot put.

During Friday’s second event, Jacobi leaped a distance of 5.68 meters (18 feet, 7.5 inches) in the long jump.

“His long jump performance was very impressive,” Riggins said. “It was his first time competing in the long jump and he jumped close to what a lot of athletes jump in the open sections.”

Jacobi became Waldorf’s first pole vaulter. The process has involved overcoming facilities limitations.

“Without an indoor facility or a place to actually pole vault indoors, we did a few drills leading into the meet and he vaulted for the first time in warm-ups for the actual event,” Riggins said. “The heptathlon is not only about performing well in each one of the events, but each athlete has strengths and weaknesses. In their weaker events, they need to score some points to keep them in the running overall.”

In the high jump, Jacobi established a personal-record mark of 1.64 meters (5 feet, 4.5 inches).

“Justin not only cleared the opening height but two additional heights after that,” Riggins said. “That was huge for his point totals.”

Jacobi finished strong as he clocked a time of 2:56.52 in the 1,000 to place fourth in the event and rack up 699 points.

“He ran extremely tough and fought for those points,” Riggins said. “I couldn’t be more proud of his performance over the weekend. He made school history as our first ever multi-event athlete and also showed a huge amount of promise in this event.”

Freshman Demetrius Baker and sophomores Darius McMillian and Ray Browder fielded the shot put for the Warriors. McMillian and Baker both topped the school record set by McMillian on Dec. 5 with distances of 12.51 meters (41 feet, 0.5 inches) and 12.3 meters (40 feet, 4.25 inches), respectively. Browder threw for a distance of 10.78 meters (35 feet, 4.5 inches).

“McMillian and Baker both broke the 40-foot barrier in the shot put which is a very big accomplishment,” Riggins said. “McMillian hasn’t thrown the shot put competitively since high school and Baker is coming off an ACL repair last season.”

Baker improved upon his own school record in the weight throw with a toss of 11.48 meters (37 feet, 8 inches). Senior Isaiah Lufkin joined Baker in the weight toss and posted a distance of 9.54 meters (31 feet, 3.5 inches). Baker, McMillan, Browder and Lufkin have provided strength as throwers.

“I have been very impressed with these four men so far this season,” Riggins said. “All four of them learned or are in the process of learning the weight throw this year, and until this fall Isaiah had never thrown the shot put.”

Juniors Nathan Meiners and Aaron Ward became the first Warriors to compete indoors in the 5,000. Meiners rewrote the school record books with a time of 16:43.93 seconds while Ward also surpassed the school’s previous mark with a finish of 17:22.51.

“This is 26 laps around a 200-meter track,” Riggins said. “It is not only a very physical event but also requires a lot of mental toughness.”

Freshman Isaiah Craig improved upon his own mark in the school record books with a 1.91-meter (6-foot, 3-inch) effort in the high jump. Craig also established a personal record in the 400, crossing the finish line in 54.89 seconds.

Junior Cassidy Warson, freshmen Ovan Garcia and Jimmy Blankenship battled in the 1,000. Garcia recorded a time of 2:57.71. Warson ran a pace of 2:59.73 while Blankenship closed out the event in 3: 08.42.

“They each ran great races,” Riggins said. “They all have made some big improvements and it was great to see those efforts reflected in their times over the weekend. Blankenship especially has seen some big strides in his events in the last few meets.”

Freshman Alvyns Alcenord sprinted to a time of 23.77 seconds in the 200.

“Alcenord ran a very tough 200,” Riggins said. “He is coming off football season and I think we will continue to see some improvements from him as we get some more block work in and has more experience running the 200 indoors.”

Freshman Eithan Esensee posted personal records in the 60-meter dash and the 200 with times of 7.98 seconds and 25.84 seconds, respectively. Freshman Jonah Remker set a personal best in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.31 seconds.

With each meet, the Warriors continue to build toward the competitive NSAA Indoor Championships & Multi on Feb. 14-15 and the NSAA Indoor Championships on Feb. 19-20.

“We are in a tough conference,” Riggins said. “Every tenth of a second or centimeter of improvement will make a difference when it comes to points and conference placings.”

Waldorf continues the season next weekend at the two-day Buena Vista University Invitational in Storm Lake. Action begins at 2 p.m. on Friday. With the NSAA meets quickly approaching, the Warriors are on pace to make an impact.

“We are less than three weeks out from the NSAA Indoor Championships & Multi and our men’s program is on the right track,” Riggins said.