On Feb. 3 and 4, Hillsdale College hosted the Wide Track Classic, which attracted elite competition and resulted in 14 provisional marks for the men’s and women’s squads combined.
Between 800 and 900 athletes attended the meet — many of whom are the top seeds in their events. Head coach Andrew Towne has prepared tirelessly to make this meet stand out in NCAA Division II.
“This wasn’t our biggest Wide Track Classic ever, but very close,” Towne said. “The quality was drastically different than any Wide Track Classic. I thought it was a step in the right direction, but there’s more that we need to do.”
Towne said the 200 meter races, the relays, and the pole vault were particularly exciting to watch this weekend.
Senior Caleb Gatchell won the 800 meter with a time of 1:53.99 — a personal best on the season. The time hit the provisional mark and left him ranked 16th in the nation.
Freshman Joseph Humes took third in the mile, running a 4:13.33. This is a personal record and his first provisional mark. Humes said he had been feeling confident in practice all week, and it showed in his performance this weekend.Humes is ranked 18th in the nation in the event.
“I thought it was pretty awesome,” Humes said. “I got to run with Tony Wondaal, who is an All-American, and a couple other All-Americans were also in that race. Meeting the provisional mark was just an added benefit.”
Humes ran a 4:16 mile in high school, and his goal was to match it. This was his first time running the mile in college.
“I was pretty happy with my rank, but I don’t think it’ll stay that way, because I know people will get faster later on. I’m just kind of seeing how this plays out and I still have three more years,” Humes said.
Humes also expressed how the level of support within the team at this meet was especially motivating.
“It seemed like the whole team was there, especially on the back straightaway. There was just a wall of noise,” He said. “The atmosphere was just awesome. Having the team there was so much fun, but also a huge motivation.”
The men’s 4x400-meter relay took second this weekend. It was run by sophomore Tanner Schwannecke, juniors Lane White and Colby Clark, and senior Ty Etchemendy. They hit the provisional standard with a time of 3:19.69, placing them 17th in the nation.
Junior Jared Schipper won the men’s pole vault, clearing 16 feet, 4.75 inches. Though it was not his season best, this was another provisional mark for Schipper, who is ranked ninth on the national list.
Etchemendy, previous All-American, placed third in triple jump, reaching 48 feet, .5 inches. This was not Etchmendy’s season record, but still reached the provisional standard, ranking him 20th nationally.
On the women’s side, Hillsdale had two provisional performances in the 400-meter. Junior Tori Wichman took first with a time of 56.86, marking her third provisional time of the season. She is now ranked fifth nationally. Senior captain Allison Duber placed seventh, running a 57.76, which ranked her 27th on the national list.
Hillsdale took first and second in the women’s mile. Junior Hannah MacIntyre placed first with a time of 4:56.22. This time is MacIntyre’s indoor personal record, as well as a provisional time which placed her 10th on the national list. Senior Molly Oren was just seconds behind, placing second, with a time of 4:59.80. This time also meets the provisional standard ranking her 21st and is Oren’s indoor personal record as well.
The historically successful distance medley relay teams for Hillsdale took first and third — both met provisional times. The A-team of Oren, and juniors Fiona Shea, Hannah Watts, and McIntyre, took first and is ranked seventh in the nation for their time of 11:54.32.
The B-team which took third was composed of freshmen Allyson Eads, Seneca Wyse and Arena Lewis, and Junior Amanda Reagle with their time of 12:16.59 ranked 20th. Hillsdale has been the national champion in this event for the past two years and is gearing up for another successful year.
Hillsdale put up a strong performance in the pole vault, with two lifetime personal records and two provisional marks. Senior Alex Whitford vaulted 12 feet, 7.5 inches, on Saturday placing second to professional vaulter, Kayla Caldwell.
“The energy from having a professional vaulter there for the week, and also watching improvement happen week to week in meets, allowed it to finally come together and the energy builds really quickly once we start warming up,” Whitford said.
Whitford is now ranked fourth nationally.
“It’s honestly really humbling to have come from a couple of years of extreme emotional instability — I let a lot of struggles get to me,” Whitford said. “But coming into this nationals knowing I will not be worried whether or not I will be on that list, which is so cool and it brings a lot of peace into my competitions now. I feel like I can actually try to put into practice the things that I’ve been doing, rather than just make bars.”
Freshman Katherine Bassette, who had been struggling with posterior tendonitis and problems with her achilles, placed third in the pole vault with 11 feet, 9.75 inches. Bassette is now ranked 21st on the national list.
“No words describe it — just based on the things I’ve had to struggle through to even be able to compete at a college level. So for me to go from an 11 foot vaulter to, hopefully next meet, a 12 foot vaulter is something that will be very exciting to see,” Bassette said.
Both vaulters attested to the difficulty of sitting at the meet for hours on Saturday waiting to finally vault around 9 o’clock. However, they also said how much the crowd that came to watch affected their energy level.
“The support of the group that came to watch was probably the biggest thing.” Whitford said. “They sat and they cheered their heads off, not just for me, but for everyone.”
“We feed off the crowd’s energy,” Bassette said. “That’s why I love meets – people show up and they support and are super enthusiastic even though they may have no idea what’s going on.”
In the weight throw junior Rachael Tolsma came in first, throwing her season best of 60 feet, 2.5 inches, which met the provisional standard and earned her the 13th spot on the national list. Senior captain Dana Newell placed third with a throw of 60 feet, 1.25 inches. Newell is currently ranked 11th nationally.
20 athletes left for Boston University on Wednesday afternoon, in order to compete this weekend at the Valentine Invite. Another 20 athletes will be attending the Big Meet at Grand Valley State University.