Luis Pérez Lerchundi
All the athletes on the track and field team made their debut this past weekend at Trine University’s Don and Riley Zimmer Indoor Classic Friday night. This event gave Goshen College some good news as Ryan Smith, a first-year, qualified for the NAIA Indoor National Championship in the 5,000-meter race. There were also 15 other Goshen College athletes that got a position between the first ten athletes in the race.
Smith took home the individual victory after finishing the 5,000-meter race in 15:16.01. Another three Maple Leaf athletes ended up finishing within the top ten. Jordan Smeltzer, a junior, was third with a time of 16:02.05.
Isaiah Friesen, a first-year, obtained fifth place with 16:08.89, and Moses Kaelo, a junior, came in eighth after finishing the 5,000 meters race in 16:55.42.
This performance qualified Smith for his first Track and Field National Championship.
Smith said, “In the race, I felt good at first, but after the 3k marker, I felt fatigued from the distance medley relay that I had earlier in the meet. I really fell off, but still was able to hold on and get the national standard.”
After obtaining the position in nationals, Smith’s next goal is “to get the school record in the mile, in the 3,000 meters and try another time to get it in 5K.”
To reach these goals, Smith is going to change his practices a little bit. “I am going to start working more on speed to help with my mile time. Just keep grinding out the mileage and workouts and let it come together at nationals,” he said.
Smith qualified for his second appearance at nationals after his participation in the cross country event in November. The first-year runner is very happy with his first season and with the team he competes with.
“I believe our track and field program is at an all-time high. I expect many more athletes on our team to qualify. Some of the guys I practice with look like they are in great shape and are capable of the standards,” Smith said.
Smith gives credit to the coaches’ work and he recognizes their effort to have the team improve.
“My experience with coach Yoder is great. He has a long-term plan all set up for me and he is a great mentor also. I’m very thankful to have a coach like him. I also do some work with one of the assistant coaches, Jim, on my sprint form,” he said.
Smith also participated in the distance medley relay team that broke the school record with a time of 10:38.23. Daniel Zelaya, a junior, Tim Lehman, a sophomore, and Luke Graber, a first-year, were also part of the DMR team. Zelaya and Graber also ran the 800-meter event where they got 2nd and 10th place, respectively.
The jumpers also gave good results to the track and field team. The high jump event was a success for the Maple Leafs as three athletes, Derek Swartzendruber, a junior, Kyle Mishler, a senior, and Thomas Leonard, a junior, all finished in the top five. In the long jump, Leonard got third place, while Kyler Lehman, a senior, obtained the seventh place.
The women’s team also participated at the event where they had a successful performance. The best event for the Maple Leafs was the 5,000-meter race where Alli Beitler, a senior, and Anna Costanza, a junior, took the second and third spots, respectively.
The relay team composed of Beiter, Dana Christner, a senior, Hannah Barg, a sophomore, and Irene Schmid, a sophomore, had a strong performance in the distance medley relay, where they took second place with a time of 13:58.38. In mid-distance action, Christner took 10th place in the 800-meter race after finishing with a time of 2:35.89. Schmid placed 10th in the mile run with a time of 5:52.96.
There were two more top 10 finishes in the field events after Maria Jantz, a junior, finished fourth in the pole vault, and Ashika Thanju, a junior, was sixth in the long jump.
The track and field team will compete again this weekend, as the race walkers head to the Cedarville Collegiate Invitation on Friday, while the rest of the team heads to Anderson University on Saturday.