Centre College’s Track and Field teams have produced some impressive performances over the past few seasons. Now, with the season drawing to a close, the team looks to continue their fine form.

“This season has been one of our best to date,” senior Vanessa Bacorn said. “We have one of the most talented teams to come through Centre, and unfortunately we have had some injuries, but overall we have people who can score in every event we compete in. I personally have had a good season [and] the whole team has been running faster times than ever before. I think that is due a lot to the fall training we did.”

Despite several injuries, the Women’s team has managed to take either first or second in every meet so far, including two first-place finishes in the home meets. The Men’s team has also been strong this year, tying for first at the Centre Invitational and taking second in the Twilight meet.

Sophomore Daniel Graham (left), first-year Hunter McCoy (middle), and senior Nick Niehaus (right) during a race this year

Sophomore Daniel Graham (left), first-year Hunter McCoy (middle), and senior Nick Niehaus (right) during a race this year

“Overall both the men and women have been pretty successful at the meets,” senior Cheyenne Evans said. “A lot of school records have already been broken.”

Last week, both teams traveled to Conway, Ark. where they participated in the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Conference Championships.

The Women’s team took second at the meet with a total of 178 points, finishing behind Rhodes’ 223 points. Junior Hannah Ellis finished first in the 800.

For her performance Ellis was named All-Conference along with senior Stephanie Hale, junior Emily Aikin, junior Ashley El Rady, junior Lilly Campbell, sophomore Cammie Jo Bolin, first-year Serena Gale-Butto, and first-year Brandy Orth Becker. Both relay teams were also named All-Conference.

The Men’s team took second as well, tallying 202 points, just two points shy of first place Rhodes’ 204. Senior John Kieffer won first place in the 1500, the 3000, and the 5k. Kieffer received All-Conference honors along with senior Brent Joplin, senior Jack Schafer, senior Nick Niehaus, senior Michael Orr , junior Eric Beyerle, sophomore Victor Pataky, sophomore Jacob Duvall, first-year Elijah Scott, and the 4x400m relay team.

With conference behind them, both teams will now look forward to the final two meets of the season and then on to NCAA Nationals. For Bacorn, who has battled injuries throughout her career, nationals are definitely a goal.

“I tore my ACL both my freshman and sophomore year and it had a huge impact on my training, so I think that finally being healthy for a full season has really helped,” Bacorn said. “My goal was to run consistent 25 second 200s, and thankfully I have been able to do that. Another goal is to make it to nationals in the 200, which I am within a half second of.”

With the team growing each year, sending consistent competition to nationals is always something to strive for. As the team expands, so does their reputation and talent.

“We’ve got a bigger team than ever before, and I think that says a lot about the program in general,” Evans said. “Our recruiting classes are growing, as well as the number of people who may play another sport but decide to try track for the first time. While it makes travel difficult, it’s definitely a good problem to have. It says a lot about the team’s reputation for being competitive at a high level.”

Both Evans and Bacorn are seniors who have been a member of the team for the past four years. “Track is unique in that it is both an individual and team sport. As an individual, you’re asked to push your body in ways that your mind wants to resist. But you learn that you can do a lot more than you thought you were capable of,” Evans said.

“You also learn that it takes every single person on the team putting forth their best effort to win a title, and feeling the force of your team cheering you across the finish is incomparable to any other sport I’ve ever played.”

Bacorn agreed, citing the track team as crucial to her college experience.

“[Joining] the track team at Centre is one of the best decisions I have made while here. There are so many different events, but seeing how everyone comes together during competitions and all of the great friends I have made from being on the team has been a huge impact on my overall Centre experience.”

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