Friday to compete in the two-day Iowa State Open. The Red Raiders held their own against tough competition from almost 40 teams, including 16 from NCAA Division I. The Raiders were joined by several other teams from of the GPAC, including Briar Cliff, Morningside and Dakota Wesleyan.
The Raiders were competing in just their second event of the year in Ames, after competing at the Dordt Open the previous weekend. Sophomore Kaitlin Floerchinger and junior Kyle Heidebrink met the NAIA provisional qualifying standards in long jump and 55-meter hurdles, respectively.
Coach Scott Bahrke, in his first year running the track program, said he felt the Iowa State Open was a good opportunity for the Raider athletes to test themselves against tough opposition, and expressed excitement at the team’s prospects before meet. The team did not disappoint.
Junior high jumper Matt Huseman produced an outstanding performance to win the men’s unseeded high jump with a leap of 2.04 meters and beat the rest of the competition by a significant 11 centimeters while also meeting the NAIA automatic qualification standards in his first meet of the year. Sophomore Skyler Giddings also produced a brilliant performance on the day to seal third place in the men’s 800 meter race and qualify for the NAIA standard.
Senior sprinter Brandon Hammack said the meet was a good platform for the Raiders to build on. Several runners saidthey did not perform up to the standards they had established for themselves.
“The meet was a building meet for a lot of us,” Hammack said. ”It was a great opportunity to run against top-notch competition and for us to push ourselves to be better.”
Hammack has been in the Raider track program since he joined the school as a freshman and has seen the transition of the Raider program during that time.
“The team this year has grown a lot — not only in number but also the depth of the talent we now have,” Hammack said. We are able to compete and make it up onto the podium in every event, and that is something that has never been done in Raider history. We also have a tight-knit group of people that encourages one another and provides a family-type environment that motivates each other to continue to better themselves. Our team can only go up from here.”
The Raiders will attempt to continue their good run of form as they head into their next meet at the Buena Vista Open in Storm Lake this weekend.