The Tabor College track teams will look to build on last year’s outdoor season, when both the men and the women placed third at the conference meet.
Dave Kroeker, entering his 13th year as coach, believes the 2013 indoor season—in which the men earned second, the women third—is an indicator of how his squad will perform outdoors.
“The kids performed extremely well,” Kroeker said. “In some ways, it’s really easy to see where everybody’s going to be because you see the talent level and you see what people can do, and barring some kind of injury—which generally doesn’t happen—track is pretty easy to know where you’re going to finish. ”
Kroeker expects a strong outdoor season from the men, many of whom contributed to the recent indoor season.
On the track, sophomore Garrett Daugherty competed at the indoor nationals in the 1,000-meter race.
“We don’t have (the 1,000) outdoor, but he should be a 1,500-meter guy that could be a conference champion,” Kroeker said.
Junior Alex Grier, who won the indoor 200-meter race, will be tough in the sprints.
“In the 100, 200 and 400, he should be top of the conference,” Kroeker said.
Anchoring the team in long-distance races will be sophomore Joel Allen.
“In the 10-K and the 5-K, (Joel) should be one of the top people,” Kroeker said. “He was second in cross country, so he’ll be trying to do well, and he should do well.”
Junior Nathan Vogel will compete in middle distance.
“He was second last year in the 800 outdoors,” Kroeker said. “He ought to be in the 800 and the 400 probably, but his primary race will be the 800.”
Kroeker also anticipates strong teams in the 4×400 and 4×800. Indoors, the Bluejays won the 4×400 and was second in the 4×800.
In field events, senior Michael Klaassen, a two-time conference champion in the hammer throw, will help provide the foundation in the throws.
“You don’t come into college knowing how to throw the hammer, so unless somebody recruited a juco transfer who’s really good, (Michael) should win the conference,” Kroeker said.
Klaassen placed fifth indoors in the shot put.
“From first to fifth was pretty close,” Kroeker said. “So hopefully we can work on that.”
Sophomore transfer Robert Nenadal will lead in discus and throw the hammer.
“I think he has the potential to be top guy or top two or three in the discus,” Kroeker said.
“Kroeker said Aziz Spellman-Smith should make an impact in the jumps. Spellman-Smith won the indoor triple jump and claimed second in long jump.
Senior Ryan Chippeaux will aim for first in high jump after placing second last year.
Overall, Kroeker said the strength of the men’s team lies, for field events, in the throws and the long and triple jump. On the track, Kroeker listed the 400, 800 and 1,500.
“I think our men’s team right now is across the board as strong as we’ve been since I’ve been at Tabor,” Kroeker said.
Kroeker mentioned the importance of the entire roster, especially when trying to win a conference championship.
“It’s going to be somebody else coming in sixth and somebody else coming in fourth and third and having a great day—those are going to be the people I didn’t mention,” Kroeker said.
With only 14 women on the roster, depth will be a challenge for the Bluejays this season.
In field events, Tabor will rely heavily on a few key athletes. Senior Emily Post, an All-American triple jumper, has already qualified for the NAIA Outdoor National Championship in triple and high jumps.
Last year, Post swept all three jumps at the KCAC meet: long, triple and high.
“Emily Post, I’d say, is the poster child of the women’s team right now,” Kroeker said.
Post is favored to win the high and long jumps this season, but may face stiffer competition in the triple jump, if the indoor season is any indication.
“(McPherson) brought in a juco triple jumper who has beaten her every meet indoors,” Kroeker said. “But I think (Emily’s) got a chance to beat her outdoors”
Senior Tynan Honn should make an impact as the returning conference champion in the shot put. She also will throw the hammer. Ruthann Ralstin and Cassie Kroeker should contribute, too.
Junior Yvonne Brubacher will contend in the pole vault after finishing fourth indoors.
“I hope we can move up there,” Kroeker said. “It was a very close competition with two girls from Friends. So if we can jump over them outdoors, that would be really good.”
Brubacher is also expected to run in the 4×100, Kroeker said.
On the track, junior Brielle Lund, the KCAC cross country champion, will be a leader in middle and long distance races.
Junior transfer Kirsten Lynn Harris, who placed third in pole vault indoors, is expected to contribute in the 400-meter hurdles this spring.
“She is not a speed person, but she’s more of a middle distance person, so I think she’ll do well,” Kroeker said.
Junior Makenzie King will defend her title as 400-meter conference champion and participate on the 4×400 and 4×800. The 4×800 took second indoors, while the 4×400 placed fifth.
Freshman Jennifer Yoder is expected to help the Bluejays in the 100 and 200.
“I expect her to be a major contributor,” Kroeker said.
Depth will be the women’s biggest hurdle this season.
“The kids can’t control that,” Kroeker said. “That’s recruiting, so that’s on me, sadly, but it is.”
The women will look to improve on a third-place finish.
“There was a pretty significant gap between us and the first two places indoors,” Kroeker said. “Can we get to second? I’d like to think we can. I don’t know if we can get to first.
“The numbers aren’t there, but we’ll see,” he added.
The KCAC meet is scheduled for May 2-3 at Joel H. Wiens Stadium in Hillsboro.