Track and field take on KCAC Championships
The Conference Meet for the Indoor Track season took place between 18-19th February, and saw Bethel women finish ninth overall, while the men finished sixth. “I’m really pleased – competed really well as a group, and this was reaffirmed by opposing coaches”, said Mark Nelson, Head Coach of Bethel Track and Field, in reference to a number of excellent individual and team performances.
This season has witnessed a number of such performances from Bethel athletes, but Nelson believes that the team saved its best for the final weekend of competition, noting that “over the course of the season there were thirteen occasions where we broke a school record, and six were at the conference meet.” These successes, Nelson also noted “came from all over the place, over the course of the whole two days.”
The highlight of the meet came through Trey Palmer, Junior of Pearland TX, who became Bethel’s solitary KCAC Champion over 60 meters with a time of 6.88 seconds. His sister, sophomore Laiya Palmer, placed fourth in the women’s race with a time of 7.96 seconds. Another notable performance in the sprinting contingent came from Aubry Grame, Junior from Kalispell MT, who twice broke the College record in the heats and final of the 60 meters hurdles to finish fifth.
Another fifth placed finish came from jumper Karsen Dunham, freshman from Douglas KS, who posted a mark of 10.65 meters to secure that position in triple jump, where her compatriot Stephany Meyer, junior from Goessel KS, also finished all-conference in eighth. Dunham then broke the school record in the long jump to finish seventh with 5.21 meters. Elsewhere in the field Kalyn Corley, junior from Ark City KS finished sixth in the women’s weight throw with an effort of 14.39 meters.
Nelson acknowledged that, “there’s always going to be some disappointments, but even those people were able to find other successes.” One such disappointment came in the men’s 4x800, who had hoped to join Trey in qualifying for the NAIA Championships, but fell short of the required time by 0.03 of a second. Its participants found success individually however, with Sophomore Arran Kearney and Senior Mauro Arancibia, from England and Chile, finishing sixth and eighth in the 3000 meters respectively. Isaiah Bartel, sophomore from Wichita KS, finished fourth in the 1000 meters, with a time of 2.37.22, and the final leg of the quartet, freshman Luke Schmidt from Newton KS finishing eight in the 800 meters.
The distance group, now headed by the newly appointed Assistant Coach Kameron Blanding, saw other notable performances, with Natalie Graber, senior from Divide CO, who broke her own record for the women’s 3000, to sit alongside the record she claimed in the 5000 a few weeks prior. The men’s Distance Medley relays, which combines distances of 400, 800, 1200 and 1600 meters, was also good enough to claim bronze.
Overall, Bethel recorded a top 10 finish in 17 different events between the men's and women's competitions, and the team is seeking to replicate these positive results in the outdoor season. “This is going to be launching point into the outdoor season.” “The teams that I’ve coached in the past have a history of being better on the outdoor – we’re going to try and beat our placements at conference in the Spring, “chase school records and gain individual qualifying ranks” Nelson said.