Northwest track and field yielded unanticipated results at the sixth annual Southwest Baptist University Bearcat Invitational in Bolivar, Missouri, April 6.
In just their second outdoor meet of the season, the Bearcats, overall, fared well, something coach Brandon Masters didn’t anticipate.
For most of the week leading up to their meet in Bolivar, the Bearcats didn’t train in a manner they traditionally would heading into an important meet, Masters said. Northwest wasn’t in shape to perform the way it did.
“I thought we competed really well, considering this time of year we are not fresh,” Masters said. “We are not ready to excel at a high level (right now). But I thought the kids competed really well.”
On the women’s side, the Bearcats shined in the 400-meter hurdles, where they took first, third, fourth and fifth. Junior Jordan Hammond placed first, followed by juniors Alex Koschel, Hiba Mahgoub and Emily Wedlock.
“We had a couple of really good performances,” Masters said. “You know, we obviously didn’t expect some of those, but it was sure nice to see a couple of great performances as well.”
Hammond finished the race with a time of 1:00.57, beating the next-closest competitor by more than three seconds. Still, Masters said Hammond’s best performances are yet to come.
“(Hammond) went out and had a really nice provisional (qualifying time),” Masters said. “It’s not going to be enough to get her into nationals, but it was the first one, and it was not pretty. She knows that, and there’s a lot more we can do. I’m just excited to see her run so well so early.”
Northwest’s brightest performance from the weekend came from the legs of junior Marcus Klein, who automatically qualified for the NCAA Division II Championships for his performance in the long jump. Klein’s longest jump of the weekend measured in at 7.75 meters.
Klein, a transfer from Iowa Western Community College, now holds the No. 1 long jump mark among Division II competitors on the season.
“It’s exciting, honestly,” Klein said. “(I) don’t have to worry about qualifying in that event for the rest of the season. It’s really surprising, too, because I wasn’t expecting to go quite that far because we had a pretty big week last week.”
Klein’s qualifying mark was also good for a new Northwest record, one that had been in place since 2001. Similar to Klein, Masters didn’t expect the junior to perform so well in Bolivar.
“You don’t look for a jumper to pop one this early,” Masters said. “Certainly, I don’t in my system. But to see what he did was just unbelievable. I mean, his series was out of control. With four jumps over almost 25-feet … that’s insane.”
Klein qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships for long jump earlier this season, his first competing as a Bearcat. The junior was named MIAA co-Field Athlete of the Week for his performance at the invitational.
With still nearly a month left in the outdoor season, Klein is looking forward.
“My legs going into it were a little flat … and so, it was just really out of the blue,” Klein said. “There’s a big goal for the conference (meet), trying to score a lot of points for the team so we can get that team win, hopefully.”