Three Maple Leafs qualify for indoor track and field nationals as season opens

The Goshen College women and men’s indoor track and field teams began their season last Friday by splitting into two partial squads and competing in a pair of different meets. In total, 18 Goshen athletes, nine at the Findlay Classic and nine at Trine University International, participated in their first competitions of the year.

Goshen reached its greatest accomplishments at the Findlay Classic. A total of three Maple Leafs qualified for NAIA Indoor National Championships. One was Erin Helmuth, a sophomore, competing in her first-ever 3,000-meter race walk. Helmuth had a time of 17:24.63, a time good enough for fifth place and a spot at nationals in Geneva, Ohio, on March 3-5.

Jacob GunderKline, a sophomore, also qualified for nationals in the 3k race walk with a time of 14:31.71, breaking his own school record once again. In doing so, GunderKline became the first non-senior to be named Springer Design Maple Leaf Athlete of the Week.

“I’ve broken my school record in every single race so far,” said GunderKline.

He was especially worried about not continuing this trend on Friday because he has been struggling with a back injury during the past week and wasn’t a full participant in practice. GunderKline came in fifth in the 3k race walk, and repeated the feat of qualifying for both indoor and outdoor race walking nationals, which he did last year.

The third Maple Leaf to qualify for nationals was Matthew Webster, a junior, in the weight throw. In 2010, Webster competed in the outdoor national championships in both discus and hammer throw. This is the first indoor nationals that Webster has qualified for. He threw a 54’ 4 ¾”.

All three national qualifiers came from the Findlay Classic in Ohio. At the Trine Invitational, Goshen had a few great performances from Kyle Laker, a senior, and Kyle Mishler, a freshman. The two shared the men’s high jump title with scores of 5’11 5/8.

Goshen’s next meet is Saturday, Feb. 5  at the Indiana Wesleyan University Invitational in Marian.

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Written by Matthew Amstutz

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