The track and field team will wrap up their season at the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championship meet on May 21. Biola will bring 15 competitors to the meet, including long distance runners, relay teams and field events.
“For us, what happens at nationals is kind of the icing on the cake,” said head coach Bill Crumley. “Just qualifying is really what we look forward to during the season.”
A YEAR OF TRANSITION
This season has been a year of transitioning for the team. The Eagles had to adjust to Crumley taking over for Jonathan Zimmerman as the head coach as well as fill in the gaps from the record-breaking senior class of 2014.
“The team accepted the changes and adjustments and made the commitment to moving forward, kind of business as usual,” Crumley said. “They really set the tone work ethic-wise, being coachable, and their willingness to buy into what we as a coaching staff were doing.”
LEADING THE WAY
Part of business as usual for the team is leading the way in scholar athletes. The Eagles had 13 Golden State Athletic Conference scholar athletes to lead GSAC for both the men and women. Biola also competed well in the NAIA Indoor Track and Field Championship with four competitors receiving All-American honors.
“We are taking four athletes who are All-Americans in Indoor and all four of them are qualified [for Outdoor Nationals] so we are hoping that they will be able to repeat that,” Crumley said.
One of those All-Americans is senior Kevin Horchler, who will be competing in the 5,000 meter race. Horchler qualified for nationals at the UC Irvine Steve Scott Invitational. The only other competitor representing Biola’s men’s team will be sophomore Brandon Berz, who will compete in the 3,000 meter Steeplechase.
The women’s 4x100 meter relay team broke Biola’s record earlier this season, and then improved their own record two more times. What makes the team even more impressive is that three of the runners are freshmen. Junior Kate Smiley and freshmen Emily Heisinger, Taylor Holcomb and Morgan Dwork bettered their time at the Occidental College Invitational and broke past the 48 second barrier to qualify for the “A” time with 47.91 seconds.
Junior Anika Gasner will compete in two races at nationals this year. Gasner qualified early for nationals in the 800 meter race at the 2015 PNLU College Invitational and qualified for the 1,500 meter race in the GSAC Championship meet.
AN IMPRESSIVE RELAY
Another impressive relay for the women’s team is the 4x800. Juniors Alisa Murray, Kathleen Bell, Kellian Hunt and Gasner make up the 4x800 relay, and the team posted an “A” qualifying time of 9:17.67 at the 2015 Mangrum Invitational just before the conference championship.
Only one athlete from the field events qualified for nationals. Junior Nicole Falkenstein qualified for Nationals for the second year in a row in the pole vault after coming back from a minor injury at the beginning of the season. Last year at nationals, Falkenstein finished in 10th place with a height of 3.55 meters.
The meet begins on May 21 and will continue until May 23.