Written by Katie Morford Tuesday, 27 March 2012 15:03
The Tabor track teams feature a balanced approach this season with national qualifiers returning in both track and field events.
Three Bluejays already have qualified for this season’s NAIA Outdoor National Championship: Dominick Eastman, Emily Post and Samantha VanRanken.
“We have some really high-quality kids,” coach David Kroeker said.
The men have a batch of talented freshmen and transfers who will add depth and speed this season.
One of them, Eastman, qualified for nationals in the 110-meter hurdles. He was an All-American hurdler during the indoor season, and will be competing for Tabor in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles this outdoor season.
Other young runners hoping to bring their success indoors to the outdoor season include Tabor’s 4x800 team of freshmen Chris Lopez, Garrett Daugherty and Joel Allen, a Hillsboro alum, and sophomore transfer Phillip Magos.
“They qualified for nationals in the indoors, so you’d think outside they’d do even better,” Kroeker said. “I think they’re going to have an exciting outdoor season.”
As an individual, Allen has already broken Tabor records this season in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.
In the field events, Michael Klaassen promises to be a force in the hammer and shot put. He finished in the top 10 at both of Tabor’s first meets.
“He’s going to be really strong on the guys’ side,” Kroeker said.
Although the women’s team has fewer athletes than the men’s squad, the women will likely score higher, Kroeker said.
Among the leaders is Post, a junior who is a three-time national qualifier in the triple jump and once in the high jump. She has already qualified for both events this season.
“Emily Post is going to be really strong in the triple jump especially,” Kroeker said.
Another strong returner for the Bluejays in the field events is sophomore Yvonne Brubacher.
“She won the conference in the (pole) vault last year as a freshman, so you would expect good things,” Kroeker said.
Tabor returns two conference champions in the throwing events: hammer champion, senior Jasmin Peggese, and shot put champion, junior Tynan Honn.
“I’m looking for good things from (Peggese),” Kroeker said. “(Honn is) going to have quite a bit of competition. There are some new girls in the conference who are throwing pretty far. But you’re the champion until someone else takes it away.”
VanRanken, a senior, has made a comeback from a bad injury last year to qualify for nationals in the javelin throw. She was an All-American her sophomore year.
Setting the pace for the runners this year is distance queen Brielle Lund in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters. Lund qualified for nationals in cross country and is expected to do the same in outdoor track.
“She’s struggling through an injury right now, but she’s going to have a really good year,” Kroeker said.
Sophomore Makenzie King will run middle-distance sprints for Tabor in the 200 and 400.
“She’s running really well right now, she’s about ready to break 60 (seconds in the 400),” Kroeker said.“Once you start getting in the 50s you’re starting to run pretty fast.”
The Bluejays will need all their talent to challenge reigning KCAC champion Friends University.
“Friends will be the team to beat,” Kroeker said. “They were the odds-on favorite for both men and women last year and they also won indoor this year.”
But Kroeker said he is optimistic about his athletes’ chances. “We’re in a position where, at least on the guys’ side, we have enough (depth) that if we can develop some talent, we might be able to push both them and Southwestern,” he said.