Track and Field teams compete in Indoor Championship

Jackie Krawczyk (‘18) hurdling at Luther College Alumni meet.

Photo courtesy of Luther College Photo Bureau

Jackie Krawczyk (‘18) hurdling at Luther College Alumni meet.

Shannon Baker, Staff Writer

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The Men’s and Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championship was held Feb. 24 and 25 at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, IA. The men finished ninth out of nine teams and the women finished seventh out of nine.

The Luther Track and Field team sent 33 men and 32 women to compete in a variety of contests in both sprinting and distance categories, as well as field events including pole vault, long jump, high jump, shot put, and weight throw.

The women had a number of performances that ranked among the top all-time performances for Luther. Marta Springer (‘19) and Morgan Sammons (‘18) both competed in the pentathlon and made Norse athletic history. Springer placed fifth with 2878 points and Sammons placed seventh with 2660 points. These ranked fourth and sixth respectively for the Norse all-time. The 4 x 800m relay, featuring Springer, Mallory Carr (‘17), Ilsa Knivsland (‘20), and Stephanie Murray (‘17) ranked ninth all time for Luther with a time of 9:45.41.

The men also had a number of performances that set all-time records for Luther. The 4 x 800m relay, featuring Bret Powers (‘17), Collin Kern (‘20), Kyle Gilberg (‘19), and Andrew Millan (‘20), set a new Luther record with a time of 7:54.16 earning the team second place in the meet. Elijah Kane (‘18) placed third in Luther’s all-time heptathlon history with a performance that scored 4027 points.

Head Coach Jeff Wettach (‘79) expressed his excitement for the opportunity the competition presented.

“I am so thrilled about the possibilities for our team and individuals within our team,” Wettach said. “Our biggest focus will be on individual and relay team performances, and as the [season] progresses, we will continue to focus on supporting each other.”

With the addition of Nebraska Wesleyan University to the IIAC conference, the competition level in the conference has risen. Nebraska Wesleyan, which joined the IIAC conference beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, has several athletes ranked in the top ten for NCAA Division III performances in track and field. While the competition was fierce, Wettach wanted the team to focus on personal improvement.

“Points [will be] hard to come by this year. We need to be a team of overachievers,” Wettach said. “We need to focus on performances more than outcomes.”

Senior captain and sprinter Kayla Ingvalson (‘17) explained the team’s goals in terms of individual performance.

“[As a team] we’re going to continue to focus on ourselves, and make sure we are giving our very best effort and not worry about the competition,” Ingvalson said.

In addition, the team’s supporting one another and improving personal times, the energy of increased competitiveness at the Indoor Championship was tangible, according to Ingvalson.

“There is something different about the IIAC Conference Championship,” Ingvalson said. “Coach [Wettach] always says ‘your best performance is still in you.’ I can’t wait to see what our team is going to do in the outdoor season.”

The Indoor Championships may be the culmination of the indoor track season, but they also mark the start of the transition from the indoor track to the outdoor track. There are no scheduled track meets during the entire month of March, but moving to the outdoor season marks an increase in training quality and quantity.

“The [March] break is a really good time to realign mentally, take a break, and gear up for some more good work,” distance runner Jordan Boge (‘18) said. “Meets are mentally taxing.”

In the one-month hiatus from intercollegiate competition, moving to the outdoor track will allow the team to train for new events such as the javelin, 3,000-meter steeplechase, 400-meter hurdles, and the hammer throw. In addition to focusing on new events, Wettach believes training on the bigger and softer outdoor track, which is only six years old, will improve the team’s physical well-being.

“The [outdoor] track is much more conducive to good health because the indoor [track] is so firm,” Wettach said. “I look to March as a great month to make progress with our training.”

With the shift to the outdoor season, Luther Track and Field plans to maintain the team’s strong mentality and unity that they bring to their competitions.

“Practice-wise, our huge goal is to come into practice with that positive mental attitude and [keep] each other accountable,” Boge said. “Racing-wise there are so many factors going into how [we] place, but it is more nuanced than that. [Our goal] is striving for our best each and every day.”

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