Tabor track team looking to take steps toward KCAC championship

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK AND ERICA FAST
In his second season as track coach, Dave Kroeker and his Tabor College track team are measuring success one building block at a time.

Kroeker is optimistic about improving on last year’s season. The Bluejay women and men finished third and seventh, respectively, in the KCAC a year ago.

With a host of newcomers on the team, the team is off and running, Kroeker said.

“We’re trying to build a program that is a conference champion,” he said. “That’s the goal. Without the injuries that we’ve had already this year, I thought we had a legitimate shot. Legitimately, though, we should finish in the top three.

“The women have an outside chance at the conference championship. We’re starting to make waves at the top.”

Both men and women return contending athletes this season.

For the women, sophomores Tamara McCarren and Angela Kroeker lead the way among Tabor’s throwers. McCarren scored in every throwing event at the KCAC meet last season-including a second-place finish in the shot put. Kroeker finished third in the discus at the conference meet.

Kroeker said he recruits women throwers to bolster his team’s chances in the KCAC league meet.

“On the women’s side I’m going to recruit throwers,” he said. “It’s what I know the best and I guess that’s one of the areas I’m going to recruit. But I’ll recruit anybody that can help the team.”

After all-conference honors last season in the high jump, junior Mandi Whitehead will again be jumping for new heights in 2002.

In the sprints, juniors Chrissy Previtera and Rachel Evans will be looking to break some records, individually and on relays.

Long-distance runners Karen Shearer and Angie Jost are expected to make an impact in distance events, Kroeker said.

Conference champions Jimmy Janzen and Landon Goertzen will anchor the Tabor men’s team.

Janzen won the men’s high jump last year and will be eyeing the school record this season.

Goertzen won the 800 meters last season as a freshman and is expecting a repeat performance.

Both are two-sport athletes who competed in basketball this past season.

Kroeker credits much of his team’s latest growth in numbers to two-sport athletes. The men’s and women’s teams have their share. The women have six, the men have 17.

“The men’s team is almost always going to be dual-sport athletes,” Kroeker said. “If you’re a good athlete in a Class 3A-size (high) school, and you’re a male athlete, you think you’re a football player or you think you’re a basketball player. You may or may not be, but that’s the primary reason you’re going to go to college.

“I can’t recruit somebody just for track. Most athletes who are good sprinters or good jumpers are going to be good athletes in other sports.”

Among the new faces strengthening the men’s roster this season are Willie Lopez, Naithan Schirmer and Dane Little.

Nagging injuries may be the biggest problem facing the Bluejay team this season.

“We’ve had a lot of people in the training room,” Kroeker said. “I’ve told the team we’re going to have to start having practice in the training room.”

Kroeker said his whole team will also need to improve if they want to be competitive.

“The sprints are real weak for the men-we’re not real strong, which we should be,” Kroeker said. “On the women’s side, we need to do better in the distance events.”

Kroeker sees Southwestern College and Friends University as the KCAC preseason favorites.

“Southwestern is the class of the conference,” he said. “They’ve been able to use a strong cross-country team, so they’ve built their teams around their distance runners.”

The Bluejays took 15 athletes to a Pittsburg State University indoor meet in late February.

Jost won the 800-meter race, McCarren placed second in the shot put and Evans placed second in the 55-meter hurdles.

The Bluejays start their outdoor season Thursday, March 14, at the Southwestern Invitational in Winfield.

“I’m real excited about the possibilities of really improving,” Kroeker said. “We’ve got more numbers and that makes track more fun. It’s just kind of exciting to be a part of that.”

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