Hastings College’s track and field teams have a rich tradition of producing All-American athletes year after year — and the 2019 indoor season was no different. Both the men’s and women’s teams competed in the 2019 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Indoor Track & Field Championship this past weekend, and returned with some personal-best performances as well as valuable experience.
On the first day of competition, Senior Cali Stewart competed in the women’s pentathlon finals, finishing 6th overall with a score of 3,345 points. This top-eight performance earned Stewart All-American honors for the first time in her athletic career.
“The pentathlon means competing in five extremely technical events for over seven hours in one day. As a senior, I knew that I had to give everything to make that podium,” Stewart said. “I was willing to put everything on the line to make it there.”
Day two of nationals kicked off with the men’s 3000 m race walk finals. Junior Trevor Alber competed in the event, but was disqualified due to form violation. In the men’s weight throw finals, Sophomores Justin Villars and Tyler Summers competed for the Broncos, placing 7th and 10threspectively. Villars’ 18.05 m (59’ 2”) throw earned him All-American honors.
An hour later, Senior Shantinique Cunningham competed in the women’s long jump finals. Her jump of 5.23 m (17’ 2”) tied her at 24th place overall. In the following men’s high jump finals, First-Year Phalen Sanford tied for 24th place with a jump of 1.94 m (6’ 4”). Shortly after, Sophomore Josie Peterson competed in the women’s pole vault finals. Peterson vaulted a height of 3.57 m (11’ 7”), tying for 12th place.
Later in the field events, the women’s weight throw finals began. HC was well represented in this event with four seniors competing. Kelbie Lyon, Eboni Nash, Keely Parish and Mary Ware finished 2nd, 7th and tied for 10th and 19th, respectively. Lyon and Nash’s throws earned them both All-American honors.
“Being able to close off my indoor season with a personal best was like a fairytale ending; an athlete’s ultimate dream,” Nash said. “It’s definitely a memory I’ll share with my future kids someday.”
Rounding out day two of competition, First-Year Cole Schmidt placed 16th in
the men’s long jump finals with a 6.8 m (22’ 3”) performance.
The third and final day of the NAIA Indoor Track & Field Championship got underway with the women’s triple jump finals. Cunningham jumped 11.5 meters (37’ 7”), tying for 10th.
Shortly after, Lyon and Nash competed in the women’s shot put finals. Lyon finished 13th with a throw of 13.12 meters (43’ 0”), and Nash finished 17th with a throw of 12.82 meters (42’ 0”). In the men’s shot put finals, Villars’ 16.36 meter (53’ 7”), throw earned him 8th place in the event. This finish gave Villars his second All- American honor for the weekend.
“To me, being an All-American means that all my hard work and dedication to the program is paying off,” Villars said. “Putting in the extra time lifting and practicing has allowed me to place down the stepping stones that could lead me to something greater later down the road.”
Another All-American performance followed in the women’s high jump finals. First-Year Brianna Botts earned 6th place in the event with a leap of 1.65 meters (5’ 5”). Stewart recorded a jump of 1.57 m (5’ 2”), good for 23rd place.
“I remember seeing the All-American banners up in the PFF (Physical Fitness Facility) and I thought it’d be cool someday to have my name on one of those. Never did I think it’d be my freshman year,” Botts said.
Finishing her trifecta of finals appearances, Cunningham competed in the women’s 60 m dash finals. Cunningham’s time of 0:07.81 put her in 8th place at the meet and earned her All-American honors.
At the end of the meet, the HC women’s team finished 15thoverall. Botts, Cunningham, Lyon, Nash and Stewart earned All-American honors. The men’s team finished 51st, and Villars earned two All-American honors.
“One of the things that I was really proud of was that everybody was positive. Their first reaction was that their results could refocus them for the outdoor season and push them to work that much harder,” said Ryan Mahoney, head coach of the men’s and women’s track & field teams.
The Bronco track & field teams are scheduled to begin their outdoor season on March 30, when they host the Bronco Open.