UPLAND, Ind. – A number of strong individual performances highlighted the 2012 Mid-Central College Conference Championships for the Goshen College men's and women's track teams on Friday and Saturday.
Held at the George C. Glass Track and Field Complex on the campus of Taylor University, the 49th men's and 21st women's championship saw Maple Leaf teams finish seventh (men) and tied for eighth (women).
"We had some outstanding performances from a short-handed group," head coach Doug Yoder explained. "Even with a short-handed squad, everyone stepped up and dealt with that we had and performed their best. I was very proud of our athletes and proud of the pride they had in themselves and the team in their competitive spirit."
Despite the inability to rack up enough points to finish higher as teams, Goshen did pick up a conference championship via junior Sam Jones (Timber Lake, S.D.) in a thrilling high jump contest.
Jones was one of three competitors to clear 6-feet, 7-inches, a provisional qualifying mark for the NAIA Outdoor Championships to be held in late May. While the mark tied for the Goshen College school record (2011 - Kyle Laker), Jones needed several more jumps to win the conference title. A complicated tiebreaker saw Jones outlast Marian's Taylor Maxey and Indiana Wesleyan's Nick Brown four jumps later.
Freshman Thomas Leonard (Columbus, Ohio) was also in the top 10 in the high jump, taking ninth with a leap of 6'1 1/4."
The GunderKline brothers (Yellow Springs, Ohio) each finished one spot out of all conference honors, each running to a fourth-place finish. Brock ran a season best 1:57.38 to finish just .15 of a second out of third place in the 800 meters, while Jake led three Maple Leafs in the top 10 of the 10,000 meters with a time of 33:10.75.
Sophomore Andrew Witkowski (Goshen, Ind.) was eighth in the 10k (34:15.29) and freshman Jordan Smeltzer (Goshen, Ind.) took tenth in 34:35.11.
"Brock had an incredible kick in the last 300 meters to end up where he did," Yoder added. "Jake also had an amazing finish in the 10,000 coming from ninth or tenth place with three laps to go to finish fourth."
Goshen's other points on the men's side came in the 5,000 as Moses Kaelo (Narok, Kenya) placed fifth in 15:48.54 and in the relay events. The best relay finish of the weekend for Goshen was the 4x800 as Brock and Jake GunderKline teamed with Kaelo and Tijs Buskermolen (Aalsmeer, Netherlands) for a fifth-place time of 8:05.28.
The men finished with 32 points, 21 back of sixth place Grace College. Indiana Wesleyan topped the men's field with 225 points, while scoring 195 to also win the women's event. Goshen tied Saint Francis with 8.5 points.
The majority of the Leafs' points on the women's side came from freshman Maria Jantz (Newton, Kans.). She tied for fifth place in the pole vault, clearing 9'6 1/4" before placing seventh in the triple jump with a mark of 31' 1 3/4."
In other action, junior Karla Folker (Goshen, Ind.) took 14th in the 5,000 meters (20:59.29), Dana Christner (Goshen, Ind.) placed 18th in the 400 (1:06.38), Bethany Lemler (Bourbon, Ind.) 16th in the 100 meters (13.97 seconds), Summer Hasan (Newton, Kans.) 15th in the long jump (4.19 meters), and Sonia Navarro (Goshen, Ind.) was 16th hammer (31.44 meters).
The Maple Leafs now have five individuals who have qualified for the NAIA Championships, which will be held May 14-26 at Indiana Wesleyan University.