The Red Raider Track and Field team hit the ground running this spring semester. Athletes and coaches opened their 2022 season at Dordt University on Jan. 25 and competed again this past weekend at the South Dakota State Division II Invite. While the Raiders have had some stand-out performances at their first two meets, the team hopes to continue improving until the GPAC Championships at Doane University on Feb. 18 and 19.
Just down the road in Sioux Center, the Raiders went head-on against GPAC rivals Dordt, Dakota Wesleyan and Morningside. Perhaps the most remarkable performance of the meet was sophomore Lorenzo Jones, taking first in the triple jump while also setting a new school record of 14.5 meters. Jones topped the record of junior teammate James Gilbert, who also took home a first-place finish in the long jump. Freshman Jaci Vander Waal, finished first as well in the high jump for the Red Raider women.
On the track, freshman Kennedy Kramer stole the show by breaking her own school record in the 400m dash with a time of 57.57, taking first. Junior Cody Post also won the 200m dash with a time of 22.87. Other notable finishes were from junior Tirzah Wittenburg and freshman Caitlin Alberts, who took first and second in the open 800m, both setting personal bests. Senior Ian Wiersma also started the season off strong, taking second in the 3000m run with a time of 9:11.84.
“Our season has been off to a great start,” said Kramer. “Many of my teammates and I have ran numerous personal records over the course of only three meets, which is largely due to the amount of hard work being put into practice. Everyone gives their best no matter if it’s just warming up or running their race.”
In Brookings, the Raiders faced strong competition from both GPAC schools and NCAA programs. Freshman Erin Hulberg made a name for herself in NW Track and Field history, setting a new school record for the indoor pole vault with a mark of 3.35 meters. Junior Abby Clarke shined in her first-ever 600m run, finishing third overall and hitting the NAIA provisional mark as a national qualifier. Senior Isaiah Lee represented the Red Raider distance crew well, posting a personal best of 2:34.05 in the 1000m run.
“It has been fun to see so many of our women and men post their best marks in our two meets after break,” said head coach Scott Bahrke. “This is a testament to people putting in the work over Christmas break when we didn’t have scheduled practice. We should be able to push for a top three finish as a team in a very competitive conference at GPAC.”
The team is set to compete again on Jan. 28 and 29 at the Mount Marty invite in Yankton, SD, just three weeks out from the GPAC Championships.