Men and Women’s Track & Field
In this Principia College Track and Field indoor season, the men’s and women’s teams collectively broke 13 records – more than have ever been broken in any one season. Although the team has only competed in a few meets of their outdoor season, many individuals’ times suggest that they may set new records this spring as well.
The men’s team broke nine school records during the 2011 indoor season. New records were set in the 400 meter, 800 meter, 3000 meter, 5000 meter and one mile events, as well as in the 800 meter relay, the 1600 meter relay, the 3200 meter relay and the nationally ranked distance medley relay (DMR). For a complete list of the names of the individuals who set these records and their respective times, visit the Principia College athletic website at www.principiaathletics.com.
Junior Drew Clark set records in the 800 meter and mile events. Both his times were automatic qualifying times for the NCAA DIII Indoor Track and Field National Championships. At Nationals, Clark placed 6th in the 800 meter event and earned the title of All-American. He chose not to compete in the mile because, as head coach Chuck Wilcoxen said, at Nationals, there are both preliminary and final races for each event, which would have meant that Clark would have had to run four middle distance races over the course of two days.
The women’s team also broke numerous records season: four in total. New records were set in the 800 meter, 500 meter and one mile events as well as in the 800 meter relay.
Wilcoxen expects athletes from both the men’s and women’s teams to achieve similar success during the outdoor season. He said, “I expect some very old and very good school records to be broken this spring, some records that go back to the early 1980s. Another goal – and this is sort of a reach – is to have more than one qualifier for the outdoor [national] meet. We don’t know where that performance will come from, but we’ve got a handful of athletes capable of posting qualifying marks.” Assistant Coach Philip Green said he also expects the athletes to improve throughout the duration of the season, and noted that running one-tenth of a second faster in a race is still an improvement.
There are, however, challenges that athletes must deal with in the transition from the indoor to the outdoor season; most athletes who compete in indoor also compete in outdoor events. Wilcoxen said: “Coming into outdoors, the challenge is always going from a 200 to 400 meter track … That adjustment takes a little bit, but we made it. You’re also at the mercy of the weather to some extent.” Sophomore Aubrey McMullin acknowledged that weather issues can make the outdoor season more challenging than the indoor season because you have to consider how elements like the wind and rain factor in to how you race, so there is more of a thought process that goes into outdoor races than into indoor races.
Despite these challenges, the athletes have been competing well in the outdoor season so far. The following are some highlights from meets the athletes have competed in so far this spring: At the Rhodes College Invitational, Clark won the mile and freshman Wylie Mangelsdorf placed second in the same event, while Clark, sophomore Jake Meier and freshman Derrick Fleming placed third, second and fourth respectively in the 800 meter event. From the women’s team, sophomore Casey Powell placed third in both the 800 meter and mile events, while freshman Hayley Cooke placed sixth in the 100 meter hurdles and freshman Emily Mattson placed sixth in the high jump. At the Washington University Invitational, Clark ran a provisional qualifying time of 1:52:68 in the 800 meter event, while Mangelsdorf placed ninth in the 1500 meter event. Powell was just 1.5 seconds off from breaking the school record in the 800 meter event.
At both of these meets, many of the other athletes also posted numerous personal records, or PRs. Powell was also recently named the SLIAC Women’s Track Performer of the Week for March 28-April 3. The following week, at the Western Illinois Lee Calhoun Invitational, Clark finished second in the 3000 meter run and Meier, Fleming, senior Jeff Strickland, and sophomore Fredrick Ochieng finished ninth in the 4×400 meter relay. At the Rose Hulman Twilight Meet, Mangelsdorf finished second in the steeplechase; Meier finished fourth and Fleming tenth in the 400 meter dash; and Clark just missed a provisional qualifying time in the 1500 meter run by about one second. Powell finished second in the 800 meter run.
Green said he has enjoyed watching the athletes achieve these personal records, despite the less-than-favorable weather conditions. He said, “I enjoy watching people feeling fast.” Wilcoxen also said that the athletes have run faster than he has expected, despite cold and rainy conditions at the Rhodes meet and severe wind at the Washington University meet.
Not only are the athletes achieving exceptional times and thoroughly enjoying the sport itself, but they are also enjoying the company and support of their teammates. Green said that he is “excited to see the continuity of the team,” while McMullin described the team as a “family.” Clark said, “My favorite part of being on the team is working with my wonderful…fellow runners and coaches.”
Consequently, the athletes are able to draw from the success and support of one another in order to achieve more independent success. Meier said, “I would feel great if everyone else had a good season … when people start to have an individually good season, that’s when the team as a whole has a good season.” As McMullin said, individuals don’t compare themselves to their teammates, but they compete with one another and with their personal PRs. Hopefully, this attitude will help the athletes achieve further record-breaking performances in the remaining meets of their 2011 outdoor season.
Baseball and Softball
Do you hear music blasting? Can you smell hotdogs and burgers grilling? If these sounds and smells are coming from the direction of the baseball and softball fields, it can only mean one thing: it’s game time.
Both the baseball and softball teams are winding down their 2011 seasons, and for both teams, these last few games will be crucial in determining whether or not they make it to the SLIAC playoffs. This is only the softball team’s second season since the program was reintroduced last year. They have had a major turn-around in their competitiveness, and consequently in their record, since that first season. The baseball team is also making great progress this year. If they advance to the SLIAC playoffs, junior Greg Ball said that this will be the first time the baseball team has accomplished this feat since Principia was added to the SLIAC conference in 1989.
Much of the softball team’s success seems to stem from a recent shift in their mentality. Head softball coach Ken Leavoy said that, two weeks ago, the team really began to focus on how to win games. He said that the women knew they were competitive, but up to that point had not been winning the games that they were in a position to win. After they made that mental shift, they started winning more.
Senior Andie Raffles said that when they play, the women now just focus on each half-inning at a time. That is, they try to focus on hitting as well as possible when they’re at bat, and at getting three outs when they’re on defense out in the field rather than think about how they have to play an entire seven innings, or 14 innings when there is a double header.
While senior Matt Bowman and Ball both said it is important that the men on the baseball team also demonstrate mental toughness, the depth of the friendship between the men seems to be one of the greatest factors contributing to their success. Head baseball coach Pete Paciorek said: “The team is very tight-knit this year. The guys really care about each other as brothers, and that is displayed on and off the field.”
Bowman also said that because the team has meshed so well, it really “makes you want to put in the work for the person next to you.” Consequently, the men seem to be working harder than ever, no matter their place in the line-up. Ball said, “Each guy is contributing to the team, no matter if they’re batting one through nine.”
Members of both teams also noted the importance of demonstrating a commitment to Christian Science. Junior Bekah Charlston said: “I love the metaphysical push softball gives me. Every day is a challenge to be on my game metaphysically, whether it is dealing with misunderstandings between teammates, injuries, or exhaustion. The mental aspect of the game is also so appealing because it helps me practice focus and discipline.” Leavoy said that he also enjoys getting “to make the connections between Christianly Scientific thinking and acting” when he is coaching the softball team.
Bowman said that, of the baseball team’s three goals for this year’s season, the main one is to glorify God. He said that he feels they have demonstrated that goal since day one of this season. Ball added that the men have had a lot of great healing demonstrations this season as well. He also said that it’s been great to have coaches and teammates who are grounded in Christian Science, because they have been able to provide him with great ideas to help him overcome material limitations.
Although it’s still uncertain how either team will finish their season, at least members of both teams can end their respective seasons with the satisfaction of knowing they got to play the sport they love with teammates that they care about deeply. Bowman called baseball “the highlight of [his] day,” while Ball added that, “it doesn’t get any better than this.” Likewise, Charlston said that her time on the softball team has “been a great experience…I love playing softball with these women.”