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Warriors win 4×800 relay conference title

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The Waldorf College men’s track and field team earned a fourth-place finish and the 4×800-meter relay team brought home gold during Saturday’s North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) Indoor Championships.
“This weekend for our men’s program was collectively the best meet we have had all season,” Waldorf coach Kelsey Riggins said. “Almost every single one of them had a lifetime best, season PR or scored points for the team. You can’t ask for much more than that as a coach.”
Dickinson State University captured the conference championship with 188 points and the University of Jamestown (108) secured second. Viterbo University (78) took third to finish 13 points ahead of Waldorf. The Warriors and Valley City State University both concluded the meet with 65 points while Dakota State University (52) rounded out the team standings.
“We have a very competitive conference on the men’s side and I told them all coming in that we could finish anywhere from third to fifth place,” Riggins said. “We needed every point we could get this weekend and the men went after every single one.”
Waldorf’s 4×800 relay team of freshman Justin Jacobi, junior Ovan Garcia, sophomore Chasen Selsor and senior Cody Clark crossed the finish line in first to claim a conference title. They shattered the previous school record, clocking a time of 8 minutes, 38.17 seconds while earning all-conference honors.
Jacobi opened the race to position Waldorf in first. Garcia fought a back-and-forth battle for second place with Viterbo during the second leg. Selsor and Clark pulled ahead of the pack to finish three seconds ahead of second-place Dakota State.
“I could not be prouder of that performance,” Riggins said. “They all ran a very gutsy race. Each one of them fought all 800 [meters] to hold on to that first-place spot.”
Mark Ahlers contributed 14 points for the Warriors as he fought to second (2:04.08) in the 800 and third (1:26.60) in the 600. The freshman from Sheldon set school records in both events and also garnered all-conference recognition behind his performances.
“Coming in this fall, I knew that Mark’s bread and butter were the middle-distance events on the track and throughout the season he has shown his strength in these events,” Riggins said. “Mark runs a very smart 600 and 800. He reads his competition well and has one heck of a kick.”
Junior Nathan Meiners smashed his school record in the 5,000 with a time of 16:43.93 to earn second place and all-conference recognition.
“Nathan ran one of the best races we have seen from him this year,” Riggins said. “He fought to hold on to that second-place finish throughout his entire race, closing out his last lap in one of the fastest we have seen this year.”
Jacobi ran a personal-record of 9.00 seconds in the 60 high hurdles shortly after running the opening leg of 4×800 relay. The Belle Plaine native turned in a school record and lifetime-best with a time of 8.87 seconds in the 60 high hurdles finals, taking fourth and finishing just two-tenths of a second shy of the national-qualifying standard. Jacobi also recorded a distance of 5.92 meters (19 feet, 5.25 inches) in the long jump.
“As a freshman, he has finally adjusted to the collegiate high hurdles,” Riggins said. “Justin’s best event in high school was the 110 high hurdles. It will be exciting to see him in that event in a few weeks during the outdoor season.”
Jacobi also delivered an all-conference performance in the heptathlon with his third-place finish at the NSAA Indoor Championships & Multi on Feb. 14-15 at Jamestown, North Dakota. He scored 3,986 points in the heptathlon to add six points to Waldorf’s total in the NSAA standings.
Freshman Jonah Remker sprinted to sixth (23.19) in the 200 while setting a school record. It was Remker’s return to action after recently being sidelined from competition.
“We definitely benefited from having Jonah back on the track and healthy for us this weekend. Jonah ran an excellent 200 and then came back to run an excellent opening leg for our 4×400 relay team,” Riggins said. “I think we are just tapping into Jonah’s potential in the sprints. He is a fighter.”
Junior Austin Anderson chased down 10th (53.83) in the 400 behind a school-record finish.
“We are finally getting Austin’s legs back underneath him and it is exciting to watch him compete,” Riggins said.
Freshman Demetrius Baker placed sixth in the weight throw, hitting a school-record mark of 12.45 meters (40 feet, 10.25 inches). Senior Isaiah Lufkin finished seventh in the event with a 10.26-meter (33-foot, 8-inch) toss.
In the shot put, Baker’s throw of 12.31 meters (40 feet, 4.75 inches) resulted in a fourth-place finish and a lifetime-best. Sophomore Darius McMillan launched the shot a distance of 12.17 meters (39 feet, 11.25 inches) to take sixth.
Freshman Isaiah Craig leaped to a distance of 12.83 meters (42 feet, 1.25 inches) in the triple jump to lock up fifth and break another school record.
Alvyns Alcenord ran to a personal-best time of 23.2 seconds in the 200. The freshman from Pompano Beach, Fla. raced to fourth (7.16) in the 60-meter dash, missing his personal-best by 0.01 seconds.
“Alvyns had a wonderful day in the sprints,” Riggins said. “Going into the 60-meter dash finals, he was seeded eighth and ended up finishing fourth. That was a huge boost in overall points for the team.”
Remker and Alcenord each broke the previous school record in the 200.
“Those two men were moving down the track,” Riggins said. “I can’t wait to get them outdoors in the 200. We have some great 200-meter speed on this team and it will be exciting to see that unfold this spring.”
Freshman Eithan Esensee turned in two personal-bests, closing out the 200 in 25.87 seconds and the 400 in 57.34 seconds.
“Eithan is coming off an injury and I am very proud of the work he has put in this season,” Riggins said.
The Warriors concluded the conference meet by crushing the school record in the 4×400 relay by seven seconds. Remker, Ahlers, Anderson and Craig worked to fourth (3:30.45) in the event to lock up a share of fourth place in the team standings.
“As it usually does in track and field, the meet came down to the 4×400 relay,” Riggins said. “I knew we needed to be at least fourth place to hold on to our team position.”
“Each one of them did exactly what they needed to do in their leg of the relay,” Riggins added. “Isaiah [Craig] closed out the relay with an extremely impressive 50.2-second split. He is our anchor, not because of his speed but because he will go out and hunt down whoever he needs to. He is an extremely competitive individual. A lot of people see the anchor as the person with the most speed and that is just not my philosophy. The anchors of my relays will always be the athlete that I know will go out and fight.”
Several individuals played roles in the development of the track and field athletes throughout the season.
“I would like to thank Coach Corey Bins and Coach Ashley Conway for all the work they put in with these athletes,” Riggins said. “They are both great coaches and I am very lucky to have them both on my staff. I would also like to thank strength and conditioning coach Jeff Tietz and athletic trainer Eliza Slanker for coming along and always going the extra mile for these athletes.”
Senior Adam Brinkman was decorated with the NSAA Champions of Character Award for his contributions as a track and field student assistant for the Warriors.
“Adam competed in our first indoor meet for us and then was unable to compete due to academic obligations,” Riggins said. “He has been helping our coaching staff, working out with the team and doing all he can to better this program while not competing. He is very deserving of this award for the years of effort he has put in to this program.”
Waldorf looks forward to the outdoor track and field season, which begins on March 24 in the Grand View Invitational at Des Moines. The meet is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start time.
Similarly to the indoor season, the outdoor campaign will be structured as a buildup to the NSAA Outdoor Championships hosted by Waldorf on May 12-13.
“Finishing fourth place is a great starting point for this team and it left them all hungry for the outdoor championships when all of those teams come to our house,” Riggins said.