The charter bus window on the way to Brookings S.D. was not the only thing broken that day. After being held up by a collision with a turkey, the Raiders did not let that hold them back from a successful meet.
Starting off the day in her hometown was sophomore Erin Hulberg in the women’s pole vault. She vaulted a PR of 3.45m, which secured 7th place at the NCAA meet and hit the NAIA indoor track and field provisional mark. To top it off, Hulberg also broke her previous school record set last year at 3.42m. Placing her 23 in the nation and 7 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC).
The end of the meet was just as eventful as the beginning with the men’s 4x400m relay. Closing out the meet, Braden Jahn, Tanner Schouten, Mitch Oostra and Trey Engelmann hit the NAIA provisional mark of 3.19.31 with an average split of 49.86.
The relay started out with a strong run by Jahn who was fresh off his 200m PR and ran an impressive 49.5. Jahn handed off to Schouten who was key to the Raiders success with a 47.99 run. With the lead created by the first two legs of the relay, Oostra took over and ran a 50.0 split. With a fight to the handoff, Oostra refused to give up the lead as he approached the exchange zone. Engelmann, anchored the race with his fastest split this season at 50.7. This is the first time since indoor 2015 that the Raiders have qualified this relay for Nationals.
Continuing their success, the following week, the men’s relay once again hit the provisional time and secured the title of GPAC champions for the first time since 2001.
“Winning the conference title was a lot of fun because we were predicted to place 4,” senior Braden Jahn said. “The guys all ran well. Tanner and Cody were both having foot problems, but they pulled through to get the job done. Qualifying for the national meet was not something we were expecting right away, but now that we’ve hit the mark twice, we’re confident in our race. We still have a lot of room for improvement and a few things we can clean up, so hopefully we can put it all together next week in Brookings. It will also be nice to have all the guys fresh because so far this year, we’ve all had a couple races before the 4x400m.”
Both Erin Hulberg and the men’s 4×400 team are set to compete at the Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Brookings, SD, March 2-4. Joining three other Raiders who also have qualified.