Track and field records fall at Hillsdale College

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

“Calvin! Calvin! Calvin! Calvin!’’ The cheers rang off of the walls of Muddy Waters Stadium at Hillsdale College last Friday night, a night when records fell and times dropped. The men’s and women’s distance squads took advantage of a night with mild weather and ran their best meet of the year.

The meet kicked off on Thursday night with the slower heats of the 5,000 meters. As the light faded and the wind died down, the Knights had great run after great run. Outstanding performances from sophomores Kate Ardinger and Paige McGahan and senior Hannah Kregal were highlights on the woman’s side. For the men, freshman John Gingrich and sophomore Josh Ferguson both ran big personal records.

Friday night the meet resumed for the fast heats of the 5,000 and 10,000 meter runs as well as the steeplechase. Junior Nicole Michmerhuizen ran 34:09 for the 10k, breaking the school record by 95 seconds, setting the top time in the nation for Division III women, and placing her seventh all-time in D-III history.

Michmerhuizen started off strong and never looked back as her coaches, teammates and even opposing athletes watched in amazement. After the race she said, “I wasn’t expecting this at all. I am just really happy about what happened tonight at the meet. I had a lot of support from my teammates and I am glad things worked out like they did!”

Other standout performances came from junior Sam Kerk in the 5,000 meters. He steadily moved through the field on his way to a 14:25, which will likely send him to the national meet in late May. In the men’s 10,000 meters, seniors Dan Kerr and Matt VanderRoest also ran times that will send them to the national meet in 29:39 and 29:43. The times were number 2 and 3 in Calvin’s history.

Steeplechaser Alyssa Penning took advantage of the rare spring-like conditions to run a time that places her among the top steeplechasers in D-III for the year, and second all-time in Calvin history. Sophomore Steven Haagsma also ran an excellent race in the men’s steeplechase finishing in 9:16 and placing him in the top 20 in the nation.

Coach Al Hoekstra was exuberant about the performances and said: “In 27 years, that is the craziest night of Calvin distance running I have ever been involved with. It was an absolutely magical night of fantasticness.”

On Saturday, sprinters, jumpers and hurdlers ran at the Ernie Moussa Classic at Houseman Field. The Knights had several outstanding performances on the storied track in downtown Grand Rapids.

Leading the men was junior Calvin Kuyers who won the 400-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 54.47 (ranking him 24th nationally) while teammate freshman Joel Ooms took second in 57.21.

Senior Aaron Meckes had a season-best toss of 158-9, taking third in the discus and also winning the shot put with a throw of 51-0 1/4. Sophomore Erik Holstege took second in the 110 high hurdles in 15.69 and junior Andrew Dykstra also won the javelin with a toss of 168-8.

For the women, junior Hilary Banning won the triple jump with a leap of 35-7 3/4 and long jump with a 17-0 mark. Senior Carissa Verkaik won the high jump, making 5-5 good enough for the 20th best mark in the nation currently. Freshman Natalie Kmet had a season-best throw of 37-2 1/2 that was good for second place.

Calvin will be competing at Hope on Thursday and Friday next week in the MIAA Conference Championship.