Senior Caleb Gatchell made a pro­vi­sional mark on the 3,000 meter run. Gatchell and junior Anthony Wondaal cur­rently hold the top two spots in the division. (Photo: Anders Kiledal / Hillsdale Col­legian)

The Hillsdale College track and field squads opened up their season with some stand-out per­for­mances at the Saginaw Valley State Uni­versity Holiday Open, including two broken records and 10 pro­vi­sional marks.

Head coach Andrew Towne said the teams met his high expec­ta­tions. Towne explained that he doesn’t think about records prior to meets but isn’t nec­es­sarily sur­prised when his ath­letes break them. 

“The biggest thing I look for in the first meet is how we compete,” Towne said. “It’s not the meet we’re working for, but I want to see how they compete, and I thought we were a very com­pet­itive group.”

Senior Todd Frickey broke his own school record in the 60-meter dash this weekend, winning the event and meeting the pro­vi­sional standard for the national meet. His time was a 6.81 — improving on his best per­for­mance last year of a 6.85. Frickey’s time earned him the No. 2 spot in the nation for NCAA Division II.

“I’m trying to focus on what I can control,” Frickey said. “A lot of times people get caught up in the out­comes but I’m just trying to focus on the process and coming to practice every day and trying to get better at the little things.”

For the past four years, Frickey has been a member of the Hillsdale College football team. This year, however, he will focus on track alone. Frickey attributes his early success to being able to focus on training for a single sport and working specif­i­cally on the things that lower his times.

New­comers made a strong showing in the team’s opening meet. Freshman Ryan Thomsen put up a great per­for­mance in his col­le­giate debut in the hep­tathlon, breaking the record pre­vi­ously set by Justin Fawley in 2012 with 5,001 points. This mark meets pro­vi­sional stan­dards for the national meet and places Thomsen third in the nation.

“It was def­i­nitely a good start for the season,” Thomsen said. “I still want to improve a lot more, because some of the marks weren’t where I want them to be, but I had a very good day, and every­thing came together for a very good first meet.”

The hep­tathlon is a two-day event that includes jumps, throws, sprints, and hurdles, and is capped off by a 1,000 meter race. Points are awarded based on per­for­mances in each event. Thomsen’s favorite events to compete in are the pole vault and 60-meter hurdles — they’re also his strongest. After com­peting in decathlons this summer, Thomsen had been hoping to score 5,000 at his first meet. In the upcoming weeks, he will be focusing on running mechanics to improve his weak areas and improving on his base in the jumps and hurdles with the goal of reaching the auto­matic qual­i­fying mark for the national meet.

Other pro­vi­sional marks on the men’s side include Junior Anthony Wondaal and Senior Caleb Gatchell in the 3,000-meter, who sit in the top two spots in the division. Wondaal snagged his spot with a time of 8:20.57 with Gatchell close behind running an 8:21.72. 

Sophomore Tanner Schwan­necke is cur­rently ranked third nationally for his per­for­mance in the 800 this weekend. He ran a 1:53.26 — his per­sonal best.

Senior Ty Etchemendy also occupies the No. 3 spot in the triple jump after jumping 14.72 meters this weekend.

The women’s squad con­tributed four pro­vi­sional marks in both track and field events.

Towne said seniors Allison Duber and Alexandra Whitford both had their best opening meets of their careers. Duber won the 400 meter with her second-best time of 56.9 and met the pro­vi­sional standard for the event. She is now ranked third nationally.

“It was my goal to run a 56, but when I actually ran it, it sur­prised me a lot,” Duber said. “It just shows how well Coach Towne’s training works — to run that time so early in the season.”

Duber sees this success as a product of her senior-year men­tality. She said knowing that her career is coming to a close only makes her work harder to inspire her team­mates and leave behind a legacy that she feels good about. With a season goal to qualify for the national meet in an indi­vidual event, Duber said she’s con­fident in her ability and feels the strongest — men­tally and phys­i­cally — that she’s ever felt. 

Whitford also found early success in the pole vault thanks to a new mindset this year. She is ranked second nationally with her vault of 3.79 meters — her second-best mark as well.

Junior Hannah Watts won the 800 meter with her per­sonal record of 2:14.70 and is ranked fourth in the division.

In the weight throw, junior Rachael Tolsma also reached the pro­vi­sional standard with a throw of 16.81 meters. She placed second at the meet, but is ranked 14th in the nation.

For the first meet Towne wanted a good balance of com­pe­tition that was serious but not over­whelming. This Friday, however, a few ath­letes will travel to Indiana Uni­versity to face off against Division‑I schools on a banked track in prepa­ration for the annual trip to Boston which fea­tures a similar set-up.