Track teams lace up for IIAC Championships

The men’s track and field team posted seasonal records in both the 4×200-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay at the Spartan Invitational last weekend. In the 4×200 relay, seniors Kyle Ward and  Zac Gassman, junior Stedman Foster, and sophomore Brandon Gradoville finished first with a time of 1:32.65. Later in the meet, Gassman, Foster, and Gradoville were joined by junior Zach Frey in the 4×400 relay. They placed second overall with a time of 3:22.43, putting the relay into the 21st spot in the NCAA Division III rankings.

“I felt like I got a really strong preseason in, and I felt I was ready for the beginning of official practices [in November],” said Gradoville. “I wasn’t running the times I wanted, but as the season went on, my times got faster.”

An injury threatened the 4×400 meter relay, but they found a replacement, junior Zach Frey.

“We’re still right on course to be very competitive at the conference meet and hopefully qualify for nationals,” said Gradoville.

Running with upperclassmen hasn’t fazed Gradoville.

“I don’t think about it too much, but it is kind of in the back of my head,” said Grandoville, who has held a spot on the relay for the whole indoor season. “I don’t think being younger is any excuse. I really do think I am capable of running with anyone I’m competing with. I feel like there is pressure on all of us, not just me because I’m the youngest on the team.”

Ultimately, he and the juniors running on the relay have one thing in mind as they toe the line.

“We all want to do the best we can for the other members of the team, especially for our only senior, Zac Gassman,” said Gradoville.

The rest of the men’s team competed well overall, earning a fourth place finish. Frey took first in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:56.08. Senior Kyle Ward placed third in the 55-meter dash with a time of 6.52, a personal record. In the field events, senior Nathan Maiers won the weight throw with a mark of 15.99 meters. Junior Devan Kennedy took fourth in pole vault, setting a new indoor personal record. Junior Dan Vatch also took fourth in high jump with height of 1.86 meters, also setting an indoor personal record.

The women’s team was led once again by the strong performance of sophomore Elizabeth Brandenburg in the 55-meter hurdles and pole vault. She took first in the hurdles, running a personal record of 8.37, a drop of 0.3 from the Sol Bulter Classic in January. She tied for first in the pole vault, but due to her attempts on the previous height, she ended up in second place. Junior Bree Powers finished second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.81. In the field events, first-year Sarah Schoel placed fourth in the long jump with another personal record of 5.10 meters. Senior Morgan Steere took second in shot put with a mark of 12.82 meters.

The performers of the meet were sophomore Elizabeth Brandenburg, seniors Shay Coleman and Kyle Ward, and junior Devan Kennedy.

The Duhawks will compete in the Iowa Conference Championships this weekend in Waverly, IA.

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