After four meets this spring, two more await the Northwest track and field team before the MIAA Outdoor Track Championships.
The last two regular season meets for the Bearcats will be the Drake Relays April 22-24 in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Pittsburg State Tune Up April 24 in Pittsburg, Kansas, meaning April 24 will be the last meet some of the athletes will have before they prepare for the conference meet.
The Bearcats will travel back to Pittsburg, Kansas, May 8-9 for the MIAA Outdoor Track Championships. Last season, the outdoor championships were canceled due to COVID-19. The season prior, in 2019, the men’s team finished second, and the women’s finished sixth in the conference.
Currently, in the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association's conference rankings, the Northwest women’s team sits sixth in the MIAA while the men’s is in ninth place. Additionally, the latest national rankings have the women’s team 20th in Division II, four spots down from the previous rankings, but there are now six MIAA teams in the women’s national rankings.
Prior to the last weekend of the regular season, Northwest met Division II provisional marks in nine events, including the women’s 4x400-meter relay.
The Bearcats have two athletes who met national marks in field events with graduate student Josh Warner meeting them in the discus throw and freshman Dakota Schmidt meeting them in javelin. The women’s 4x400 team features graduate student Quincy McSweeney, sophomore Tiffany Hughey, junior Randi Overkamp and graduate student Hiba Mahgoub.
Schmidt said he’s extremely excited for his last meet of the regular season after having a few weeks off from competing at meets and taking the time to practice.
“I have had a great couple weeks of practice and feel like I am in a good spot with my technique heading into Friday,” Schmidt said.
With the regular season finishing up, and conference being right around the corner, some of the athletes are taking this time to tune up parts of their performance. That is the main purpose of the Pittsburg State Tune Up, giving the athletes one last competition to do so.
Schmidt said that for the conference meet he just wants to sharpen up his technique in the weeks of preparation.
“My plant leg is probably the biggest part of my technique and performance that I want to accomplish,” Schmidt said. “Besides that, just go out and compete at a high level.”
Although the conference meet will be next on the agenda for the Bearcat track and field team after this weekend, it is still over two weeks away, so some athletes aren’t too worried about it yet.
Schmidt said there is still plenty of work to be done. He said that there will be some great throwers at the tune-up meet, which will give him good practice for conference.
In the first meet of the season, Schmidt broke the Northwest javelin record and met Division II provisional marks in the event. Due to taking time off from competing at meets, Schmidt hasn’t been able to meet that mark again or surpass it. However, Schmidt said the time off and not being able to repeat that success yet does not concern him.
“I have used it as motivation during my time off,” Schmidt said. “I know I can replicate or even improve on that 64-meter throw from earlier this year, which has motivated me to perfect my craft, work hard in the weight room and do everything I can so I can be at my best when it counts at MIAAs. While it is nice to have a solid mark already, it just means I need to move it further and further in order to get to where I want to be.”
During the 2021 indoor track season, sophomore Delanie Dykes met national marks in three events, including one relay team. However, she has not repeated that success so far in outdoor season. Despite that, Dykes said her focus hasn’t changed.
“I'm still aiming to reach those marks, so I think not reaching them is helping to keep me motivated,” Dykes said.
Similar to Schmidt, Dykes is excited for the meet this weekend and thinks it will go well. She said the week off has helped her feel rested up and ready to run. For herself, she said she’s focused on just running a smart, well-paced race, while also doing her best for the team.
Looking past that, though, Dykes said she thinks the team and herself are ready for conference.
“I am very excited for conference. I feel like this outdoor season, the whole team has not really been all together to compete, so I am looking forward to competing as a team again,” Dykes said.