The start of the track and field season proved successful for the athletes that competed in Findlay, Ohio this past weekend. Four of the race walkers were able to achieve a set goal of obtaining a qualifying time for this year’s Nationals, to be held in Ohio. Mitchell Brickson and Abby Dunn qualified with the A standard for the 3,000 meter race walk, while newcomers Kolton Nay and Kayla Gray both hit B standards.

These athletes are excited about their qualifications for nationals. Junior athlete Mitchell Brickson said feels “anxious to get ready for the race at nationals.” While sophomore Abby Dunn said, “I feel great about qualifying for nationals! It was the first goal of the season and it will be great to go to nationals for the third consecutive season in my collegiate career.”

All- American race walker Mitchell Brickson hit the automatic national standards after taking second place in the race with a time of 14:10:90. Despite qualifying for nationals, Brickson felt that his race, “could have gone better.”

Brickson’s goals since qualifying are simply to get ready for nationals.

“I will be getting in a good amount of distance, speed training and weight training,” he said.

He is impressed with the other race walkers on the team as well.  “We have a lot of walkers this year,” said Brickson, “and primarily I’m impressed with the hard work everyone does at practice.”

Abby Dunn also made the time to qualify for nationals with 15:49.16. Dunn was the first collegiate finisher in the 3,000 meters race and the second overall.

Said Dunn, “The result from the race on Friday is really encouraging. It was awesome to be back on the track racing again after the cross country season.”

This race gives her a big satisfaction, but Dunn still wants to improve her time.

“It was certainly not my best race, but at this point I’m just happy to have qualified and be able to shift my focus onto other goals,” said Dunn.

Her goals are now “to get an all-time personal best at the 3k distance, break the school 3k indoor race walk record set by Tina Peters in 2007 and earn one of the top All- American spots at nationals.” These goals are making Dunn work harder and go to practice every day with determination.

Dunn said, “I will be training every day from now until the Nationals on March 7th. I will be working on increasing my endurance and speed, and also trying to focus on making my form as efficient as possible.”

In her first collegiate race, freshman Kayla Gray was seventh among collegiate race walkers with a time of 17:12.45. Junior Kolton Nay took the third position at the race and ended the race in 14:54.26. They both surpassed the provisional times to qualify for nationals, but their goal is “to hit the A standards in the upcoming races.”

This is the first step for the team as they continue into their indoor season. As they make progress, these four race walkers want to keep improving as they head into their next race at the Zimmer Indoor Classic in Angola, Ind.