With junior Jazmin Williams and sophomore Marta Scheiwe leading the way, the Hillsdale College women’s track and field team proved it’s not always size and money that matters, even at the GLIAC level.
After finishing sixth at the GLIAC Track and Field Championships in 2008, Friday was sort of a coming-out party for the Charger women as they had numerous Top 5 finishes and a pair of GLIAC titles to catapult them to third overall, comfortably ahead of Northern Michigan and in the rear-view mirror of Ashland and league champion Grand Valley.
The Charger women finished the meet with 102 points, 76 more than they came into Friday with, and the Eagles took runner-up honors with 133, only half of the Lakers 267.
Considering the youth of his squad and the fact Hillsdale College has only 7.5 scholarships available for indoor and outdoor track and field, as well as cross country for both the men’s and women’s programs, far less than many of its GLIAC counterparts, head coach Bill Lundberg was beaming with appreciation for his athletes.
“We’re about half-funded compared to a lot of NCAA teams in our spot, but I would have it no other way because of the type of athletes we bring in, and how hard our coaches and everyone works to put us in this position,” Lundberg said. “I’m not making excuses or anything, because although teams like Ashland and Grand Valley do have more aid coming in, it comes down to having the athletes and coaches. And our women really impressed me and we’ve got some stars doing some big things here.”
Speaking of stars, it was a redshirt junior who stole much of the spotlight for Hillsdale on the women’s side.
Williams was red-shirted for the 2008 outdoor track season and the 2009 indoor campaign to fight off fatigue, but also because her academic plan is set over the course of five years and Lundberg and his staff thought they could best utilize her talent if they gave her some time to train and rest.
Friday, at one of the biggest meets of her career, Williams shined and she has another season to prove it was no fluke and make waves on the national scene.
Williams led nearly start to finish in the 400 meter hurdles, posting a 1:01 flat to bring home the crown and she was also the anchor of the winning 4×100 relay team that came from behind on the final leg to defeat Grand Valley with a time of 47.49 seconds. Williams was also fourth in the 100, less than .3 seconds out of first with a
“It was a strategic move on our part to keep her out of action and also kind of an academic thing, and it seems to have worked I’d say,” Lundberg said. “She has just worked so hard and put in so many hours, like all of our athletes, to get where she is.”
On the men’s side it was the highly-decorated Jared Krout adding to his impressive resumé, with a GLIAC record time of 46.69 in the 400 to bring home the gold.
“We thought it was great when he ran a 46.88, but he came out and lowered his own school record and to be able to coach an athlete and person like Jared is just so special,” Lundberg said.
Krout was also fourth in the 200 and part of the 4×100 relay team that placed third, after earning runner-up honors in the long jump on Thursday.
For the men’s team as a whole it was what Lundberg called a “solid effort” as they placed seventh, after taking fifth at last season’s championship meet.
“We still need to find some depth in our distance events, and are counting on some young prospects we have coming in, but I’d say it was solid, and we weren’t far off from fifth, which is what we were kind of shooting for.”
Ashland used its dominance in the field events Friday to overcome second place Grand Valley and bring home the GLIAC men’s team title for the second straight year.
While first place is always the one who receives the most attention, there were plenty of other fine performances, including several surprising ones for Hillsdale.
On the women’s side Scheiwe took second in the 400 with a time of 56.6 and third in the 200 (25.11), while also taking part in the 4×100 relay where the Chargers took first.
Scheiwe and Williams also were integral pieces of the 4×400 relay team that placed second.
“(Marta) is really something and she is already ranked (highly) on the national level and she had a very strong meet for us,” Lundberg said.
The strength of the competition on hand was something to take notice of as well, with close to 50 athletes ranked in the Top 20 nationally in their respective events, according to the Charger head coach.
Katie Hunt also had a memorable close out to the conference season with several top finishes.
She was fourth in the long jump (5.4 meters) and sixth in the 100 hurdles (15.26), and was also part of the winning 4×100 team.
While her achievements may have been somewhat expected, those of a freshman from Camden-Frontier were certainly not.
Jennifer Shaffer, the daughter of a former Hillsdale College star, dropped her time in the 800 from around 2:16 a few weeks ago to a 2:11.79, good enough for third in the conference.
“Could you believe that? That is just tremendous, especially for a freshman coming in from a school that size and I think with that time she’s ranked somewhere in the Top 10 nationally,” Lundberg said. “Let me tell you, that’s all hard work for you.”
Another local garnering a podium finish was Clara Leutheuser, the Hillsdale Academy grad, who took third in the high jump, topping 1.66 meters in her first conference championship meet.
On the men’s side it was freshman and Waldron graduate Tim Jagielski proving he will be a force to watch out for in years to come.
He placed fourth in the 5,000 with a 15:04.29 and took ninth in the 1500 with a 4:00.4.
Lundberg said he feels his coaches and his team’s training regiments are “cutting edge” and he’d like to continue to ascend up the conference, ranks, but overall it was a phenomenal week.
“What I really liked was the competitiveness, but also the camaraderie these kids within the conference show. They go at it and battle hard, but respect each other and really build some relationships,” he said. “It’s just a very competitive conference and I think we saw that. There are a lot of kid who could probably be D-I and even some times being put up that are close to that of U.S. Olympic qualifiers.”