The ONU Track & Field team is heading into February with two goals in mind. The first of these is to win the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) Indoor Championship conference meet. The second, qualify for the National Championship.
Now well into their indoor season, the team will soon be on their way to face the rest of the conference. The Tigers are no strangers to this meet, and have placed first at their last three appearances (according to onutigers.com). ONU will attempt to defend their status as reigning Conference Champions at Saint Ambrose in Davenport, Iowa on Feb. 16-17.
Only two more chances remain to qualify, before the NAIA Indoor National Championships in March. Already, more than a few individuals have met the mark to enter. Bryce Vollrath (SO/Peoria, Ill.) is one of them, as he used his first performances of the season to instantly qualify for both shot put and weight throw at Nationals.
“I’m looking forward to competing against not just really good competition,” Vollrath said. “But (against) everyone, as they’re set up to compete at a really high level.” Vollrath has been able to earn veteran status with his second national qualification, but for newcomers like sprinter Tracker Harris (FR/Dunlap, Ill.), the excitement of a national qualification is exciting and unknown.
“It’s nice coming in knowing that I’m able to contribute to the team and help out,” Harris said. “I’m just hoping to do my best (at Nationals) and get a (personal record)”. Harris earned a provisional qualification for ‘B’ standard in 60m hurdles at a Grand Valley State University (Mich.) invitational last month.
Although some Tigers have qualified, some athletes have yet to qualify for the National Championship, and will be hard-pressed to make ‘A’ and ‘B’ standard qualifications. Jenna Philson (JR/Horton, Mich.), women’s captain for the sprinters, weighed in on the situation.
“At the beginning of the season,” Philson said, “you’re just kind of practicing lifting and doing all the work and you’re not really seeing any progress being made… as we’re getting closer to conference our chances of qualifying are becoming (small)…I think we’re getting to the point where this weekend or the next weekend- especially our 4x400m- if we’re wanting to qualify, now’s the time that we’re ready to do that”.
ONU Track & Field has proven that they are both top competitors in their conference and that they have the ability to post qualifying times; it is only a matter of time left before the NAIA National Championship on March 1-3 in Pittsburg, Kansas.
Feature Photo by Morgan Byers