FINDLAY, Ohio – Two automatic national qualifiers, one provisional qualifier, and a school record.
Not a bad opening weekend for the Goshen College track and field team, especially considering only a partial squad of nine competed in the Findlay University Classic Friday night.
The biggest splash for the Maple Leafs came in the race walk, an event which Goshen has boasted 16 All-Americans (indoor and outdoor combined) in the past five years. In their first event of the season, three Leafs hit qualifying marks for the NAIA Indoor National Championships held in early March.
On the women's side, freshman Abby Dunn (Auburn, Maine) made a successful collegiate debut finishing second overall and first among college competitors in 15:32.02. Senior Erin Helmuth (Elkhart, Ind.) finished directly behind her taking third (second collegiately) in 15:45.12. Both Dunn and Helmuth hit automatic qualifying standards for the NAIA national championships and currently rank 4th and 5th in the country, respectively.
In the men's 3k race walk, sophomore Mitchell Brickson (Enon, Ohio) was the second collegiate racer to cross the finish line (fourth overall) in 14:36.90. An All-American at last year's indoor championships, Brickson hit the provisional mark for this year's finals and is currently ranked 5th in the nation.
Goshen had a number of strong performances outside the race walk, including a new school record in the men's 4x800. Freshman Lucas Harnish (Bluffton, Ohio), sophomore Moses Kaelo (Narok, Kenya), senior Brock GunderKline (Yellow Springs, Ohio) and sophomore Daniel Zelaya (Goshen, Ind.) ran an 8:14.87, trimming two and a half seconds off the program's two year old mark which also included GunderKline.
The four-man tandem also ran in the distance medley, taking fifth in 11:14.74. Also earning top 10 finishes were sophomore Alejandro Rodriguez (Elkhart, Ind.) and sophomore Jordan Smeltzer (New Paris, Ind.) in the 5,000 meters. Rodriguez was seventh in 16:24.27 and Smeltzer placed eighth in 16:30.48.
The race walkers will be back in action at the Cedarville Collegiate Invitational next Friday, while a more complete roster will debut at the Wildcat Invitational at Indiana Wesleyan on February 2.