This weekend, the race walking team traveled to Cedarville, Ohio to compete in the Cedarville College Invitational meet – without their head coach, Doug Yoder. Walkers Brad Sandlin (senior), Kolton Nay (senior), Mitchell Brickson (senior), Abby Dunn (junior), and Kayla Gray (sophomore) traveled alone to compete. New additions to this year’s team are Justin King (senior) and Nicholas Peebles (sophomore). They are planning on competing in the upcoming home meet.When asked about competing without Coach Yoder, senior Brad Sandlin commented, “His manly mustache was missed, but we managed ourselves quite nicely. Our lack of collective facial hair did not phase us in the least bit, and most of us improved our times from the previous meet.”
Conceivably, it would be difficult competing without a coach present, but according to sophomore Kayla Gray, the upperclassmen stepped up and took on leadership roles. “Having Doug not present at the meet was mentally difficult for me, mainly because I am used to having a source of encouragement at my races. Since my family lives really far away [in Maine], Doug’s encouragement takes their place. Honestly, not hearing Doug yell at me to ‘use my arms and push off my toes,’ definitely hindered my race,” she explained. “Thankfully my teammates, who are all upperclassmen, were extraordinarily encouraging and supportive,” she continued. “Kolton, Brad, and Mitchell were all cheering for Abby and me throughout our race. Kolton and Brad actually sacrificed their warm-up time to take splits for Abby and me.”
All competitors were quite successful in their races. Brickson finished first among male collegiate competitors walking the 3,000 meters (1.86 miles) in 13:57.16. On the women’s side, Dunn finished third overall (second among college athletes) with a time of 15:41.81. Nay and Sandlin finished second and third among college walkers, with Nay (14:18.23) crossing the line one-hundredth of a second before his “bitter rival,” Sandlin (14:18.24). Gray finished fourth among collegiate women in 16:09.15. The whole track team looks forward to the Raven Indoor Invitational that will take place in Anderson, Indiana on February 7th.