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UNK track team sees success as season wraps up

As a former athlete, Marissa Bongers believes that it is important for athletes to fuel their bodies. Her experience on the track team led her to her research on dietary intake and nutrition knowledge for her masters program
As a former athlete, Marissa Bongers believes that it is important for athletes to fuel their bodies. Her experience on the track team led her to her research on dietary intake and nutrition knowledge for her master’s program

The UNK men’s and women’s track and field teams have performed well this season. With the men ranked No. 27 in the outdoor Division II National Rating Index and both teams breaking school records, they seem to be set for success.

Only bad weather could delay the team before the Loper Invitational.

“It’s never great when you have to adjust the schedule,” said head coach Brady Bonsall. “[The meet] was supposed to be on Friday. Sunday was our only option to have it in terms of being able to use the facility.”

The Lopers broke three school records as redshirt sophomore Alex Goracke broke the men’s hammer throw record with a throw of 193-3, redshirt sophomore Seth Simonson broke the school record in the men’s 800-meter run with a time of 1 minute, 50.9 seconds and redshirt junior Baylie Bryant broke the school women’s pole vault record with a vault of 12-3 1/4, placing second in the event.

Redshirt freshman Micah Swedberg placed second in the men’s 400-meter run with a time of 47.89 seconds following closely behind Brodie Roden of Chadron State with a time of 47.56. Swedberg and Simonson also helped the 4×400 meter relay win with a time of 3 minutes, 15.56 seconds.

“That was [Roden’s] best race this year and he’s pretty good,” Bonsall said. “For Micah, I think he was 12 hundredths off his PR.”

The women dominated field events. Redshirt junior Tiara Schmidt won the women’s shot put with a throw of 50-2 1/2. Redshirt Junior Anna Squiers placed first in the women’s discus with a throw of 145-4. Squiers competed a day after helping the Lopers win the MIAA spring tournament for the volleyball team. 

“If it wasn’t for the change of day, she would’ve had to wait till next week to start. It wasn’t surprising to us that she won,” Bonsall said. “She was a national qualifier as a freshman. I think two weeks, three weeks from now as we get to the week before conference, I think we’re gonna see a pretty good Anna Squiers.”

Redshirt junior Mackenzie Puckett won first in the women’s triple jump with a jump of 38-7 3/4. In the women’s 1500-meter run, UNK redshirt junior Destiny Reinke won with a time of 4:49.47. Sophomore Claire Cornell was the runner-up in the long jump with a jump of 19 1/2. 

Redshirt freshman Hannah Anderson won the women’s 800-meter run in 2 minutes 15.76 seconds  and freshman Kyla Carlson placed first in the women’s 400-meter run with a time of 58.4 seconds. Freshman Abby Everitt won the women’s high jump with a jump of 5-8. 

On the men’s side, redshirt junior Max Lindgren won the 1500-meter run in 4 minutes 5.2 seconds. Freshman Jack Drahota won the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 54.54 seconds. Redshirt junior Montrez Jackson and redshirt freshman Brayden Sorensen placed second and third respectively in the high jump. In total, the Lopers won 13 events with 17 runner-ups.

“With the delay, we’ll have to accommodate and make changes to training next week, but we had some really good marks today, almost better to be expected,” Bonsall said.

The Lopers will compete this upcoming weekend in the Drake Relays and at the Pitt State Tune-Up as they will come off a shorter week than expected due to the weather delay. 

“We’re gonna send some people to the Drake Relays and send some people to Pittsburg State next week,” Bonsall said. “The required testing protocol for us to be in a meet is different than any other Division II conference in this part of the country. So it does make scheduling hard, and it is frustrating. We’re gonna have to split our team up five hours apart next week to make it happen. At the end of the day, we are extremely thankful to be able to compete.”

The Lopers are looking ahead toward the MIAA Outdoor Championships that take place May 8-9. 

“It’s the best track and field conference in the country, and it is the best sport in the MIAA,” Bonsall said.

The Lopers will host a meet for the Loper Last Chance Twilight Invitational that will take place the weekend of May 15-16. The season will end May 27-29 at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. 

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GRANT TIGHE, Sports Editor
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