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Junior Jared Schipper pole vaults at the Hillsdale Wide Track Classic last weekend. (Photo: Evan Carter / Hillsdale Col­legian)

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.