The Goshen College outdoor track and field season began last Saturday when the team traveled to the Dick Small Invitational hosted by Defiance College.

In his first season at the helm, Rustin Nyce looked at the opener through positive light. “This first meet gives our team an idea of where we stand competitively. There were many exciting things that happened on the track and in the field for us and it will be encouraging to build on those things,” he said.

The men finished with 45 team points, placing them seventh out of nine. Luke Graber, junior, was the star of the show for the Maple Leafs, finishing first place in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:59.12. He also paced the Leafs with a seventh place finish in the 1500-meter run with a time of 4:09.85. Ryan Smith, junior, was under a second behind Graber, finishing in eighth place at 4:10.30. Graber was also a member of the fourth place 4 x 400 team with Abe Medellin, first-year, Christian Stevens, senior, and Tim Lehman, senior. Graber ran the third leg in the relay, helping the team finish in 3:33.33.

Also in the scoring column, Luke Kauffman, junior, finished third in the 5,000 meter-run in 16:34.34. Alex Steiner, first-year, and Jose Ortiz, first-year, also had top-10 finishes, with Steiner crossing the line in eighth place in 17:28.68 and Ortiz 10th with a time of 18:28.61.

Lehman finished the 400-hurdles with a respectable sixth place finish in 59.86. Andrew Longacher, first-year, scored team points in both the long and triple jump. Longacher cleared 19 feet, .5 inches in the long jump to earn fourth place and was fifth in the triple jump with a 32-8.5 leap.

Josh Bustos, sophomore, and Clayton Lehman, senior, also contributed to the team total, with Bustos earning a fourth place mark and a Lehman finishing fifth in the pole vault.

On the women’s side Megan Graves, junior, and Natalie Graber, senior, both reached the scoring column, with Graves earning sixth place and Graber taking seventh in the 5,000 meter-run. Graves finished in 20:37.64 and Graber barely behind at 20:37.92.

“When we compete we can more clearly see the areas we need to focus more attention to and where we are already doing well,” said Nyce. “This will help the program move forward in the sense that we can have a clearer sense for what we are doing on a daily basis. There is a lot of work to be done but we have the right coaches and athletes to move forward successfully.”

Both men’s and women’s track teams will be back in action this Saturday at the Hanover Invitational in Hanover, Indiana.