Bluejays setting sights on catching Southwestern

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Each year in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, it seems to come down to who will finish second behind Southwestern College.

But this year, fifth-year Tabor College track and field coach Dave Kroeker said the Bluejays may be doing more than nipping at the Builders’ heels. They may have enough to finish first.

“Our goal is to win the conference championship,” Kroeker said. “I really do feel we’re closing that gap. We’ve added some quality women and men this year, and with the kids we have coming back and our expectations of what they’re going to do, we feel we have a chance.”

Sporting a team of 52 athletes-32 men and 20 women-Kroeker said a conference championship is attainable.

“The strength of the KCAC in track continues to get better, so other teams will help flatten out what Southwestern’s been able to do,” Kroeker said. “We’ll raise our point totals to the point that we feel we’ll compete for that championship.”

National qualifiers

Tabor returns every athlete who qualified for nationals last year and this year’s indoor meet.

Brian Lightner and Trent Voth are back for the 110 hurdles. Voth is the school record holder and the defending KCAC champion. Caleb Stanton qualified in the 100 meters and for the indoor 60 meters.

Stanton will be joined at the national indoor meet in Tennessee by Aaron Jenkins, who qualified in the triple jump by exceeding 22-feet.

Matt Rorabaugh earned All-American status in the high jump with a leap of 6-foot 93/4 inches.

“He’s the odds-on favorite to win the conference again,” Kroeker said. “I think he’s a 7-footer.”

Ashley Malcolm placed ninth in the nation last year in the triple jump with a personal record on the national stage.

“She’s just a solid performer,” Kroeker said. “I think she’s one of the top athletes in the conference.”

Men’s team

“We’re going to be strong in the jumps,” Kroeker said. “We have an opportunity to win the high jump, pole vault, triple jump and long jump.”

Doug Pierce will join the team after playing for coach Don Brubacher’s basketball team this winter.

“He had a 48-foot triple jump in high school and that would win the KCAC,” Kroeker said.

Aaron Jenkins looks to capture a KCAC title in long jump; his 45-foot jump earned him a spot at nationals.

“His best event is the 200, though,” Kroeker said.

Caleb Marsh and Lightner will make waves in the long jump. Marsh and freshman Silas Hibbs look to clear new heights in the pole vault while Kroeker expects a top-four finish by Jeff Harms in the high jump.

“We’re talking about accumulating points in the jumps like Southwestern typically does in the distance races,” Kroeker said.

In the sprints, Chris Baarts “might sneak up on people in the 100,” according to Kroeker.

Shaun Doyle hopes to recover from knee surgery that forced him to miss the basketball season to compete in the 200 meters.

Mike Beach will participate in the 400 meters while Jeff Anenson returns after a third-place finish in the 800.

“We’ll have a really strong 4×400 team because we probably have eight guys who can run under 51 (seconds),” Kroeker said. “Whoever is the fastest guys are the ones who will be running. We have a better plan in the 4×100, and I think we’ll finish two or three there.”

In addition to Voth and Lightner in the hurdles, Kroeker said freshman Tony Loewen could place. Kroeker expects to score two if not three places in the hurdles.

“Doug Pierce ran Trent Voth-like times in high school-except he’s 6-foot-6, so the three inches more in hurdles probably won’t give him much trouble,” Kroeker said.

In the distance races, Kroeker seems to have the athletes to at least score points in events traditionally dominated by Southwestern.

Matt Lynam placed second last year in the 10,000, Brandon Voth and Daniel Jackson will compete in the 5,000 and Richard Galle will compete in the 3,200.

“They’ve put in some significant miles and I’ve been pushing that,” Kroeker said.

In the field events, Cody Dick and Brent Wichert “are looking good,” according to Kroeker, and “they’re a year older and a year better.”

Jarod Richardson has been throwing the shot put over 45 feet in practice, which is an all-conference distance, according to Kroeker.

“We haven’t been able to win many events in the past, but we finished 4, 5 or 6,” Kroeker said of his men’s team. “This year, I think we’re going to start winning some of those events.”

Women’s team

“The women probably have a better chance of winning the conference because there are more opportunities to spread out the points from Southwestern,” Kroeker said.

The women’s team is anchored by Malcolm.

“She’s a great triple jumper, could be top-three in long jump and high jump, was second in the 400 and will probably find a place on the 4×400 relay,” Kroeker said.

Aftan Lambert and Rebekah Lockhart are healthy again and will compete in the 400.

Shelby Miller returns after a third-place finish in the 400 and Jennifer Palmgren “has scored every year in the 400,” Kroeker said.

Distance runner Heidi Schmidt returns after a conference championship in the 1,500 as well placing in the 800.

Bridgette Stevens and Tiffany Stevens “are both running well and have looked strong in training and running,” Kroeker said.

Kroeker said four runners-Amber Wiens, Heidi Schmidt, Tiffany Stevens and Ashley Schmidt-are training well together. Wiens also earned points in the steeple chase.

Jenny Throne hopes to recuperate from knee problems and compete in the 400 hurdles.

In field events, Dana Champlain comes in with a high school toss of more than 125 feet in the javelin while Cindy Wertenberger has “118-feet range” in that event.

Sarah Lyons placed in the javelin last year and will compete in the 100 hurdles, but won’t start until her season on the basketball court is complete.

Estelle Wichert will throw the discus while Brianna Wray “will score top-two or three in the shot put at conference,” according to Kroeker, and will be a force at some point in the hammer along with Rachel Kostner, who placed sixth last season.

Looking for its first conference title since the 1970s, Tabor opens March 16 at Southwestern.

“We’re finally at the point of getting some kids who have been around for a while and really want to make things happen,” Kroeker said.

Kroeker will be assisted by coaches Ken Christiansen in sprinters, Joel Soohoo in middle distance and distance, and Jerome Piper in jumps.

“I want to put a championship trophy in our trophy case and say I was the coach-but more than that, I want to see the kids achieve goals and know I’m a part of that,” Kroeker said. “It makes it fun for me to see them succeed.”by Tom Stoppel

The Free Press

Each year in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, it seems to come down to who will finish second behind Southwestern College.

But this year, fifth-year Tabor College track and field coach Dave Kroeker said the Bluejays may be doing more than nipping at the Builders’ heels. They may have enough to finish first.

“Our goal is to win the conference championship,” Kroeker said. “I really do feel we’re closing that gap. We’ve added some quality women and men this year, and with the kids we have coming back and our expectations of what they’re going to do, we feel we have a chance.”

Sporting a team of 52 athletes-32 men and 20 women-Kroeker said a conference championship is attainable.

“The strength of the KCAC in track continues to get better, so other teams will help flatten out what Southwestern’s been able to do,” Kroeker said. “We’ll raise our point totals to the point that we feel we’ll compete for that championship.”

National qualifiers

Tabor returns every athlete who qualified for nationals last year and this year’s indoor meet.

Brian Lightner and Trent Voth are back for the 110 hurdles. Voth is the school record holder and the defending KCAC champion. Caleb Stanton qualified in the 100 meters and for the indoor 60 meters.

Stanton will be joined at the national indoor meet in Tennessee by Aaron Jenkins, who qualified in the triple jump by exceeding 22-feet.

Matt Rorabaugh earned All-American status in the high jump with a leap of 6-foot 93/4 inches.

“He’s the odds-on favorite to win the conference again,” Kroeker said. “I think he’s a 7-footer.”

Ashley Malcolm placed ninth in the nation last year in the triple jump with a personal record on the national stage.

“She’s just a solid performer,” Kroeker said. “I think she’s one of the top athletes in the conference.”

Men’s team

“We’re going to be strong in the jumps,” Kroeker said. “We have an opportunity to win the high jump, pole vault, triple jump and long jump.”

Doug Pierce will join the team after playing for coach Don Brubacher’s basketball team this winter.

“He had a 48-foot triple jump in high school and that would win the KCAC,” Kroeker said.

Aaron Jenkins looks to capture a KCAC title in long jump; his 45-foot jump earned him a spot at nationals.

“His best event is the 200, though,” Kroeker said.

Caleb Marsh and Lightner will make waves in the long jump. Marsh and freshman Silas Hibbs look to clear new heights in the pole vault while Kroeker expects a top-four finish by Jeff Harms in the high jump.

“We’re talking about accumulating points in the jumps like Southwestern typically does in the distance races,” Kroeker said.

In the sprints, Chris Baarts “might sneak up on people in the 100,” according to Kroeker.

Shaun Doyle hopes to recover from knee surgery that forced him to miss the basketball season to compete in the 200 meters.

Mike Beach will participate in the 400 meters while Jeff Anenson returns after a third-place finish in the 800.

“We’ll have a really strong 4×400 team because we probably have eight guys who can run under 51 (seconds),” Kroeker said. “Whoever is the fastest guys are the ones who will be running. We have a better plan in the 4×100, and I think we’ll finish two or three there.”

In addition to Voth and Lightner in the hurdles, Kroeker said freshman Tony Loewen could place. Kroeker expects to score two if not three places in the hurdles.

“Doug Pierce ran Trent Voth-like times in high school-except he’s 6-foot-6, so the three inches more in hurdles probably won’t give him much trouble,” Kroeker said.

In the distance races, Kroeker seems to have the athletes to at least score points in events traditionally dominated by Southwestern.

Matt Lynam placed second last year in the 10,000, Brandon Voth and Daniel Jackson will compete in the 5,000 and Richard Galle will compete in the 3,200.

“They’ve put in some significant miles and I’ve been pushing that,” Kroeker said.

In the field events, Cody Dick and Brent Wichert “are looking good,” according to Kroeker, and “they’re a year older and a year better.”

Jarod Richardson has been throwing the shot put over 45 feet in practice, which is an all-conference distance, according to Kroeker.

“We haven’t been able to win many events in the past, but we finished 4, 5 or 6,” Kroeker said of his men’s team. “This year, I think we’re going to start winning some of those events.”

Women’s team

“The women probably have a better chance of winning the conference because there are more opportunities to spread out the points from Southwestern,” Kroeker said.

The women’s team is anchored by Malcolm.

“She’s a great triple jumper, could be top-three in long jump and high jump, was second in the 400 and will probably find a place on the 4×400 relay,” Kroeker said.

Aftan Lambert and Rebekah Lockhart are healthy again and will compete in the 400.

Shelby Miller returns after a third-place finish in the 400 and Jennifer Palmgren “has scored every year in the 400,” Kroeker said.

Distance runner Heidi Schmidt returns after a conference championship in the 1,500 as well placing in the 800.

Bridgette Stevens and Tiffany Stevens “are both running well and have looked strong in training and running,” Kroeker said.

Kroeker said four runners-Amber Wiens, Heidi Schmidt, Tiffany Stevens and Ashley Schmidt-are training well together. Wiens also earned points in the steeple chase.

Jenny Throne hopes to recuperate from knee problems and compete in the 400 hurdles.

In field events, Dana Champlain comes in with a high school toss of more than 125 feet in the javelin while Cindy Wertenberger has “118-feet range” in that event.

Sarah Lyons placed in the javelin last year and will compete in the 100 hurdles, but won’t start until her season on the basketball court is complete.

Estelle Wichert will throw the discus while Brianna Wray “will score top-two or three in the shot put at conference,” according to Kroeker, and will be a force at some point in the hammer along with Rachel Kostner, who placed sixth last season.

Looking for its first conference title since the 1970s, Tabor opens March 16 at Southwestern.

“We’re finally at the point of getting some kids who have been around for a while and really want to make things happen,” Kroeker said.

Kroeker will be assisted by coaches Ken Christiansen in sprinters, Joel Soohoo in middle distance and distance, and Jerome Piper in jumps.

“I want to put a championship trophy in our trophy case and say I was the coach-but more than that, I want to see the kids achieve goals and know I’m a part of that,” Kroeker said. “It makes it fun for me to see them succeed.”

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