Storm Lake, IA – The men's and women's track and field teams continued their record-breaking season this past weekend at the ICCAC Region XI Championships hosted by Buena Vista University. team notched 5 individual victories, 6 school-records fell, they and had 5 national qualifying performances on their way to 3rd & 4th places finishes respectively.
The first big performance on day-one came from freshman Elijah Barnes in the men's shot put. Barnes heaved the shot 15.84-meters (52'11"), and locked-up a runner-up finish in the event.
Next, freshman Ty Pouncy took to the runway in the men's long jump. Pouncy wound-up, charged, and catapulted his way to a mark of 7.05-meters, or 22 feet 11 and ½ inches. That mark was good enough to secure the individual victory in the long jump, and punched his ticket to the NJCAA Indoor National Championships on March 1st & 2nd.
The men's 4x800 team rounded-out the big-time performances on day-one by racing their way to a runner-up finish in the event. The team of freshman Chandler Eckley, freshman Kohner Butts, freshman Conner Riley, and sophomore Marcus Graham rolled to a school record of 7-minutes and 57-seconds, and punched their ticket to the indoor national meet as a result.
Day-two packed just as much excitement as day one. Barnes again continued his record-breaking season. This time in the men's weight throw. Barnes crushed his previous personal-best with a toss of 14.10-meters, and finished in top-half of the Region in the event as a result.
Next, impressive performances in the high-jump led to a both the men's, and the women's school-record going down. Sophomore Caleb Cowles leapt to a new school-record, a regional championship, and a national qualifying bid of 2.03-meters (6'8") in the high jump. That mark was Cowles' season-best by nearly 3 bars. Then it was sophomore Shalandra Shilling's turn. She also leapt to a school-record, a regional championship, and a national qualifying bid in the high jump with a mark of 1.63-meters (5'4 ½").
Then, freshman phenom Kenny Bednarek rocketed his way to a regional championship in the 400-meter run. Bednarek's time of 46.60-seconds won the race by nearly 2.5-seconds, and his converted time for track size would be just off his school-record run at the Mel Tjeerdsma Classic in December.
Finally, sophomore Marcus Graham closed the day on the record breaking performances for the Warriors with a runner-up finish in the 1,000-meter run. Graham battled back-and-forth with Red Tail, and current NJCAA top-5 ranked 800-meter specialist, David Thompson, before being just barely edged out at the line. Graham's Mark of 2:33.40 is a new Indian Hills school-record in the event, and is the 5th event that he has qualified for this indoor season. He has qualified in the 800-meter run, the 1,000-meter run, the mile-run, the 5,000-meter run, and the 4x800-meter relay. He also holds the IHCC school-record in all 5 of those events.
Coach LeRon Williams said of the weekend, "This past weekend was a great opportunity for me to view how we compete as a team. At the end of the day, there is nothing more important than the team. You get good grades so you can compete for the team, you train and compete every day for the team. If each person doesn't give their individual best at a championship meet, then we fall short of what we can accomplish as a team". Williams expanded on that by continuing, "I believe a lot of our guys and gals stepped up so they could help the team be successful towards our overall goal. The evidence of that is in the progression of how we finished as a team with both capturing the best team finish in school-history. It was a great momentum builder, and we are really looking forward to nationals in two weeks".
The team will return in nearly two weeks with 24-qualifying competitors to the NJCAA Indoor Track & Field National Championships on March 1st & 2nd at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas.