The track team finished off their season at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) indoor track and field championships in Brookings, South Dakota on March 4, breaking three school records and tying one. Although they have continued to succeed both this season and past seasons, this success is no coincidence.It has taken hard work, commitment and dedication, said three track athletes: Annika Alderfer Fisher, a sophomore; Simon Graber Miller, a senior; and Samuel Stoner-Eby, a junior.
“I think patience and persistence made it possible,” Alderfer Fisher said. “I have had several seasons with personal performance that was not what I hoped it would be. Continuing to work hard and trust I would eventually break through barriers that were keeping me from having strong races was key.”
Alderfer Fisher continued: “Summer, Naomi, Mia, and I are all at similar fitness levels and can train together which is so great and that makes us all stronger. The whole team has a very supportive culture and Rustin fosters an ambitious culture as well which helps us to perform at a high level.”
This season, Alderfer Fisher earned All-American honors for finishing top eight at nationals in both the 4×800 relay and the women’s mile. In addition, Fisher has broken two school records. In the mile, Fisher had a time of 5:01.92, beating the 15-year-old record held by Petrana Petkova. In the 4×800, Annika Fisher, Summer Cooper, Naomi Ross Richer and Mia Wellington crushed their previous school record by 11.06 seconds.
“It has felt incredibly gratifying to have so much success this season,” said Alderfer Fisher. “It feels like I am finally competing at a level I’ve been aiming for since getting to GC.”
Similarly, Graber Miller also affirmed the commitment of the track team: “I would say the main change I’ve noticed from my first year of track until now has been the significant improvement in the quality of the team. We have always been pretty good, but each year has brought new people who have taken the team up a level, or additionally, many returning athletes have improved their times [and] personal bests.”
Graber Miller was named to the All-Crossroads League team this season with the ninth-best height in the Crossroads League Championship meet history. He also holds the school high jump record with 6’10.75”.
“I think some of the main reasons that have made my success in track possible have been my coaches and teammates,” said Graber Miller.
He continued: “It’s really important to find enjoyment from workouts, so having really quality teammates that are fun, interesting, and easy to talk to allows me to look forward to practices and push me to be better. I also have a very knowledgeable high jump coach who has helped me become much more consistent, and the head coach Rustin keeps me entertained.”
Samuel Stoner-Eby broke his own school record for the 400-meter dash at the NAIA National Championships with a time of 48.83 seconds. On the same day, he tied his school record for the 200-meter with 22.32 seconds.
“The success I’ve found this season has felt really good,” Stoner-Eby said. “At the beginning of the season, my goal was to qualify for nationals, and it felt pretty ambitious then, so reaching that was very satisfying. It’s also been really exciting to be more competitive at meets than I have in the past.”
“It’s definitely a team effort, made possible by great coaches and teammates who work together to push each other to be as good as we can possibly be, and lots of hard work. The success that the whole team has had shows the commitment and dedication we have.”