On Saturday, April 1, the Raider Track and Field men’s and women’s teams took a long trek down to Kearney, Nebraska for the Central Nebraska Challenge. The large meet brought great competition and warm weather, which combined to make several personal records and great performances for the Raiders.
Of those many stand-out performers, sophomore Jacie Vander Waal’s performance in the women’s high jump was one of the biggest highlights of the meet. Vander Waal placed first in the event with a jump of 1.65 meters (or 5 feet and 5 inches).
She also hit the NAIA National provisional mark, also known as the “B” standard, which allows her to potentially get a bid into the event at the NAIA Outdoor Nationals in late May.
“I was very proud of how Jacie competed at Kearney. She was confident in her attempts which allowed her to hit the provisional mark,” said coach Scott Bahrke. Vander Waal is currently ranked seventh in the nation for women’s high jump and looks to continue to improve her mark as we approach nationals.
Another national mark was hit at Kearney, with the men’s 4×100-meter relay reaching the National auto-mark, which automatically qualified them for the event at NAIA Outdoor Nationals. The team consisting of sophomore Braden Kalvelage, junior Tyreece Wynne, junior Braden Jahn and freshman Ashton Sandbulte, ran a time of 41.39. This placed them in first place in the race by over a second and placed them sixteenth in the nation within the event.
“It was impressive for them to hit the automatic standard in the first time running the event this outdoor season,” coach Bahrke said, “and it was helpful for the rest of the team with the 4×1 setting the tone for the rest of the meet.” Kalvelage mentioned how the race was pretty hectic, and Kalvelage mentioned how they continue to seek improvement towards the school record, which they were only .7 seconds off from. Wynne exclaimed, “They boys and I are hungry and coming for the record, conference title, and a national title!”
As the Raider track teams start the outdoor track and field season, there have been a few changes in team dynamics from indoor season. Coach Bahrke said, “It is more of a challenge for team members to cheer on teammates in other events outdoors compared to indoors. So, as a coaching staff, we are trying to have our athletes be more intentional in encouraging teammates throughout the events.” As the team seeks to become closer, they will continue to compete for the rest of the school year. On April fourteenth-fifteenth, the Raiders will compete in the Sioux City Relays, and the following weekend will be the Red Raider Open here in Orange City. The next week, those who qualify for the Drake Relays will participate there, and others will head to Mount Marty on April 26. Finally, the Raiders will seek to improve upon their standing in the GPAC Championships on May fifth-sixth, and will end the season in Marion, Indiana at the NAIA Outdoor National championships.