Three weeks ago, the men’s track and field team competed at the Indoor National Championship in Yankton, South Dakota, showcasing their talent in five events: the 600-meter run, mile, the distance medley relay, long jump and triple jump.
Sophomore James Gilbert Jr. placed second in the long jump. Senior, Joshua Van Dusseldorp placed 11th in the 600-meter run. Senior, Dylan Hendricks placed 11th in the mile. Freshman Wyatt Pryor, senior Nick Bernhagen and juniors Ian Wiersma and Van Dusseldorp raced together for the first time in the distance medley relay at nationals.
“It was a great learning experience for our men. They represented Northwestern College well,” head coach Scott Bahrke said.
But one athlete stood out from the crowd: Gilbert, a long and triple jumper.
After beginning his jumping journey in basketball shoes and enduring an uneven path to college, Gilbert found his place at NW.
During his freshman season, he jumped a foot further than he did at his first meet and became an Indoor All-American.
That wasn’t the end. One year and thirty inches later, Gilbert was once again named All-American. He annihilated his previous record and made his mark at 24 feet and 9 inches.
James is commited to a long career in track— not as an athlete who goes through the motions, but one who is remembered.
Proving this dedication at the Indoor National Championship, James placed second in the long jump and earned his third All-American honor in dramatic fashion.
“James came up clutch in his final long jump attempt—he went from fourth place to second place in the nation,” Bahrke said.
Gilbert is confident about his goals for the outdoor season,
“I’ve proved to everyone I can hang with the best. Now it’s time to work on technique, so I can surpass my expectations.”
Jumps and hurdles coach, Tim Vander Ploeg, has walked alongside Gilbert and witnessed his All-American leap at the indoor championship. He expressed his excitement for James’ success and looks forward to the outdoor season.
“[My desire is to help my jumpers] improve in their events and reach their goals.” coach Vander Ploeg said.