The Northwestern track and field team started off their 2020 season in Brookings, South Dakota at the D-II Invite.
They came away with 15 top-10 finishes, including a pair of provisional marks that were met by two hurdlers in the first competition opportunity of the new year. Senior Kenzie Keune placed second in the women’s 60m hurdles, qualifying for Nationals with a time of 9.14 seconds.
On the men’s side, sophomore Justus Adams found his way up on the podium with a third place finish in the 60m hurdles and also qualified for Nationals, which will be held in Brookings in March of this year. Adams and Keune currently rank third and fourth in the GPAC, respectively.
While the Red Raiders may not have placed many on the overall podium, they performed well among the NAIA teams present and fought hard alongside NCAA D-II schools such as Northern State, Augustana and Minnesota State.
The women are expected to be leaning on senior leadership throughout the year, with 27 upperclassmen on the roster for the indoor season.
As a team, they finished fourth among GPAC schools, with senior Anna Heusinkveld (60m), senior Megan Willroth (400m) and junior Hunter Koepke (5K) finishing first among NAIA runners (along with Keune), and senior Bre Harthoorn (800m) and junior Becca Bindert (shot put) finishing second among NAIA competition.
On the men’s side, the NW point-winners were Adams in the 60m hurdles, and the 4x400m ‘A’ Relay team, consisting of freshman Bennet Schuiteman, junior Justin Grevengoed, freshman Mitchell Oostra and freshman Denny Pederson. This 4x400m team is a perfect example of the wealth of young talent the men’s side hosts, with 41 underclassmen accounting for more than two-thirds of the team.
“We’re really working on building our program back up,” said freshman high-jumper Aaron Shepard. “Even though we only have eight seniors, they – and the juniors – are really helping to develop the strengths of the underclassmen.”
Shepard tied for ninth out of 20 in the high jump last week and is part of a promising freshman jump squad along with freshmen Jordan Blok, James Gilbert and Deonte Walker.
The D-II Invite kicked off the five-week stretch of indoor meets for NW, as the Raiders will compete each weekend for the next month. This weekend will be the first and only meet featuring the “multi” athletes, as NW travels to Buena Vista to compete in the Dennis Young Classic on Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31.