Hillsdale High School runner Devin Van­Dusen races to victory during an outdoor track meetct event.
Shannon Van­Dusen | Courtesy

Two Hillsdale High School ath­letes qual­ified for the New Balance National Indoor meet, held at the Armory Track and Field Center in New York City March 10 – 12, becoming the first Hillsdale Hornets to compete at a national level.

Senior Rees Nemeth qual­ified in pole vault after jumping a height of 14′ 3.25″ at an indoor meet held at Central Michigan Uni­versity. Junior Devin Van­Dusen broke the record for the initial 60-meter dash qual­i­fying time of 7.14 seconds at an indoor event at Hillsdale College with a time of 7.12 seconds.

Clay Schiman, the ath­letic director and track coach at Hillsdale High School, said this national meet is a reward for the passion, com­mitment, and hard work the two stu­dents have invested into their sport.

For both Nemeth and Van­Dusen, however, this sport is fairly new. Van­Dusen joined the track team his freshman year, setting aside his love of football for some­thing dif­ferent.

“My coach put me in the 100-meter and I ran a really good time,” Van­Dusen said. “He didn’t believe it at first, so he made me do it again and retimed me.”

It was from that moment that Van­Dusen strove to excel at the sport he had ini­tially picked up for fun. After relentless training, along with the support and encour­agement of Schiman and his friends, Van­Dusen began to place at events his sophomore year.

“He won first in every­thing that year,” his mother, Shannon Van­Dusen, said.

According to Schiman, Devin pos­sessed a talent for the sport from the very beginning.

“He is very gifted,” Schiman said. “Over the last couple of years he has applied hard work to those gifts, and he’s reaping the rewards of that now.”

Although Nemeth had pre­vi­ously been on the track team as a hurdler, he started pole vaulting last April because the team needed it. Nemeth said the adjustment to this dras­ti­cally dif­ferent event took him a long time to figure out.

“I had ter­rible form,” Nemeth said. “Every­thing was back­wards.”

He didn’t let the initial chal­lenges deter him from success, though. Schiman said Nemeth began driving to Adrian, Michigan to train at Siena Heights Uni­versity throughout the week, and even took gym­nastics classes — even during the off-season.

“Both of them do a lot of this on their own,” Schiman said. “And that’s all to their credit.”

Nemeth said he has seen con­stant improvement since he started pole vaulting.

“The thing I love about it is you can always get better,” he said.

Devin has become one of the top sprinters in the state, breaking the school record for the 200-meter, and taking fourth in the state.

“He just loves to run,” Shannon said.

Both Nemeth and Devin attested to the way ath­letics has shaped their lives.

“It made me strive to be better and gave me a goal to work toward,” Nemeth said. “It taught me devotion and com­mitment.”

Schiman said this is evident in both of their lives.

“You do this because you’re pas­sionate about it,” Schiman said.