With a new year comes the beginning of the indoor season for track and field. Although the team had an intrasquad meet in December, the first meet of the new year is the Graduate Classic, a home meet, on Friday, Jan. 17.
For both the men’s team and the women’s team, the goals are the same: Continue to build upon the previous season.
“The goal and expectations are simple: to win,” senior men’s captain Ty Moss said. “It comes in many forms. The biggest one is to win the Big Ten Championship and bringing another trophy home. It also comes on a personal level with the small victories.”
Both the men’s and women’s teams will be coming into the season with high expectations after both made an impact in the indoor and outdoor conference meets last year. The men’s team claimed the indoor conference title and placed fourth at the outdoor meet. The women’s team snatched a fifth-place finish at the indoor conference meet as well as a fourth-place finish outdoors.
As with every season, one class leaves and another arrives. For both the men’s team and the women’s team, they will be facing the same challenge of filling in the holes that the last class left for them.
In the sprints, the senior leader for the women will be Taylor Johnson, who ran both the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter dash. She was the fifth fastest on the team for both events indoors last year, but accompanying her will be sophomore Deja Ingram who was the second fastest in the 60-meter and the third fastest in the 200-meter last year as well. Ingram and Johnson both also practiced under the senior trio of Lakayla Harris, Quashira McIntosh and Whitney Bridges last season. With Johnson listed as a jumper, the senior might have a lot to carry, as nearly the entire sprinting core for the women is freshman, with Ingram, Johnson and sophomore Emily Ellis being the only upperclassmen.
“I would like all my teammates to work as hard as they can and focus on the meets to do their best,” said junior captain Petra Luteran. “As long as they give it their best, I’m more than happy with them. Whether it’s a personal record, placing 10th or getting a conference win, I’m happy for them, as I know they gave it their all.”
Of the freshman, Darby Thomas and Kayla Hugg both made an impression at the team’s intrasquad meet in December, with Thomas winning the 60-meter dash over Ingram, and Hugg winning the 200-meter over Johnson. For the rest of the running events, there are four other key runners who graduated: 400-meter runners Kierra Griggs and Jasmine Barge, and hurdlers Raynesha Lewis and Chanel Freeman. Filling in for the 400-meter is senior Michaela Peskova who was right behind Griggs and Barge last year. For hurdles it’ll be sophomore Johanna Ilves who will be the one to lead the freshman class.
“Expectations for this team this season are to improve a little bit every meet and to have fun while doing so,” said junior captain Andy Jacobs. “I hope we all go into each meet with a specific goal in mind, whether that be a time, distance, form element, height, etc. and that we do everything we can to achieve that goal.”
For the men’s team, nearly their entire sprinting squad returns to make a run for another indoor conference title. Senior Isaiah Hutchinson leads the group as he had the fastest time in the 60-meter dash and the 200-meter last year. For the 400-meter and the 600-meter, sophomore Tony Nou and junior Givon Washington will be the two to watch.
For every longer distance, it’s safe to say that sophomore George Kusche — who is coming off his second straight appearance at the NCAA Cross Country Nationals — will be a threat.
In hurdles, it will be senior captain Luke Siedhoff who will be leading the way. Siedhoff will also have sophomore Vincent Ohlman with him in the run, as they were the only two runners on the team to break eight seconds in the 60-meter hurdles last year.
“At this level everyone has different routines preparing for meets and what they think is best for their training,” Moss said. “We just need to make sure everyone is focused and ready to go, and it’s leading by example and helping when needed.”
In the field events, Jacobs leads the women’s team as the star pole vaulter, while fellow captains Luteran and senior Kristina Insingo lead through jumps and throws, respectively. Along with Luteran in the jumps, junior Ieva Turke and sophomore Zionn Pearson will be trying to cross into the 20-foot mark in the long jump for indoors. In triple jump, Turke will be trying to reach NCAA woman of the year, graduate Angela Mercurio’s best indoor mark, which Turke was a foot shy of last year. For high jump, sophomore Madi Scholl is looking to continue where she left off at the intrasquad meet, as she jumped her best height indoors which is five feet, seven inches.
“I would say we all strive to do our best,” Jacobs said. “Our teammates feel more compelled to strive to be their best when they see persistence and determination. We cheer for each other during tough practices and competitions, and we try to be as inclusive as possible to promote team chemistry.”
Not much will be affected for the men’s field as most of the returning athletes made quite an impact last year. A notable impact was the high jump duo of junior Miles Griffith and sophomore Mayson Conner, who both jumped over seven feet last year indoors and were the team’s top jumpers.
In the pole vault, senior captain Tyler Loontjer and sophomore Garrison Hughes will be looking to break their indoor-best height of 17 feet, 5 ½ inches. Senior Spencer Powell is also looking to improve his height in the pole vault, with his indoor best being 17 feet, 2 ¼ inches. With last year’s top long jumpers Elijah Lucy and Jared Seay graduated, senior Cale Wagner, sophomore Michael Hoffer and Isaiah Hutchinson will all be looking to get further in their leaps, with Wagner in particular looking to break 24 feet before the outdoor season. Hoffer and Hutchinson have both jumped over 23 feet and are the only jumpers, along with Wagner, to do so.
Triple jump is the biggest hole the men’s team has with the graduated Jonathan Miller and Jace Anderson being the only two last year for indoors. However, it seems after the intrasquad meet that freshman Passmore Mudundulu might be able to fill the hole for now, as he jumped four feet shy of Anderson’s indoor best.
Finally, for the men’s throws, junior Burger Lambrechts Jr. and senior Nick Coghill are both ready to take on the season. Lambrechts has thrown the shot put over 62 feet and has already beat his personal best both indoors and outdoors at the intrasquad meet throwing the shot 62 feet, 5 ¾ inches. For Coghill, he threw the shot put 59 feet outdoors in 2018, but has been looking to break that mark indoors.
The thing to watch out for in the throws is the weight throw this season, as sophomore James Joycey has already crushed his previous indoor best by over seven feet at the intrasquad meet. Accompanying Joycey will be fellow sophomore Alencar Pereira who was a foot behind Joycey at the intrasquad meet with a throw of 66 feet, 9 ¼ inches.
The six captains of the team are all ready to tackle their roles and have their expectations for the season.
“As Andy [Jacobs] mentioned, leading by example is a good way to show our teammates how we would like them to act, behave and perform,” Luteran said. “Working hard on the track and in the weight room is a good way to show them what work ethic and what effort I’d like them to put into our training.”