Members of the Calvin track team achieve a record-setting indoor season


Photo Courtesy Brian Demer

Calvin’s All-American Athletes.

Freezing temperatures, chilly winds and blankets of snow did not stop members of the Calvin track team from performing strongly during this past indoor season. Competing in events from the Grand Valley State University’s Bill Clinger Classic to the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championship, multiple athletes broke existing school records, set new personal records and for the first time in their career reached All-American status.

The indoor season opened on Dec. 3 with the Grand Valley State University Holiday Open Meet and ended on March 12 with the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

One event in particular — the Distance Medley Race — saw the Calvin athletes shining this season. Both the men’s and women’s teams broke school records with their performances in their different events.

The women’s team — Delaney Sall (1200 meters), Cora Moore (400 meters), Jenna Allman (800 meters) and Sadie Heeringa (1600 meters) — placed fifth in the DMR at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships with a running time of 11 minutes and 46.92 seconds, subsequently breaking their own previous school record of 11 minutes and 49.21 seconds. This accorded them with the All-American status as athletes in the event.

According to Sall, a sophomore, the success of the race was unexpected but nonetheless thrilling. “We were watching Sadie run the 1600 [meters], which is the last leg of the event, and suddenly we were like ‘Oh wow we might get the record!’” she said. “For me, the experience just gave me even more reasons to be grateful for my teammates and all the amazing people in my life. They were so supportive and excited about what we accomplished.”

For Moore, the first-year student who ran the second leg, the 400 meters has been a newer affair in her college career. She started out as a cross country runner but has fallen in love with the shorter distance and works hard to improve on each run. The DMR record was thus rewarding and also inspiring. For this upcoming spring season her “[n]ew goal is to become an All-American in the 400-meters dash,” Moore said.

Sall and Heeringa also broke additional records individually. Sall placed eighth with a time of two minutes and 15.40 seconds, in the 800 meters at the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships, marking her third All-American finish in her college career. This established her as the first Calvin All-American in Indoor Track and Field 800 meters.

Heeringa became the second Calvin All-American women’s athlete in the indoor 3000 meters run when she placed fifth with a time of nine minutes and 47.32 seconds in the NCAA III Indoor Track and Field Championships. She also broke the mile race record with a time of four minutes and 50.76 seconds at the GVSU Big Meet held on Feb 11. “I came into this season with the goal of breaking the mile record, but everything was just clicking,” Heeringa said regarding her record-setting streak. She described the successes of the season as “confidence builders” to propel her to even greater achievements. “I’ve invested so much time, physical and mental energy, and money into the sport that it feels good to be able to leave Calvin with some concrete proof of the improvement I’ve made,” Heeringa said. As a senior, this is her final year on the team.

The men’s DMR team — Nicholas Henz (1200 m), Matthew Vos (400 m), Morrison Ismond (800 m), and Ryan Vreeke (1600 m) — also set a new Calvin record when they clocked 10 minutes and 8.26 seconds at the Wartburg NCAA III Qualifier. The previous Calvin record was a clocked time of 10 minutes and 10.21 seconds in 2009. 

First-year student Henz broke a personal record when he opened the race with a time of three minutes and 7.68 seconds in the 1200 meters leg. “Breaking the record was really really fun,” Henz said. As a first-year student, Henz was particularly pleased with his first official Calvin record though it hadn’t been the goal of the day. “The goal of the day was to make nationals [and] it ended up being to make nationals we would need to make [ten minutes and one second],” he said. But Henz said he’s optimistic about the team’s chances this coming outdoor season and looks forward to setting new records.

As a son of track athletes, Henz grew up running. He’s recently broadened his track capabilities to include shorter distances, employing a lot of his strengths and training from his seven years of experience in cross country.

Ryan Vreeke, a senior, also set a new record with his four minutes and 14.69 second time in the 1600 meters leg of the DMR. “It shows that our team has depth or a lot of runners that are good rather than just a few amazing ones,” Vreeke said. “We also broke it at a last chance meet so it felt very satisfying to have one last shot at it for the year and we accomplished our goal.”

This is Vreeke’s fourth year on the track team, as well as the cross country team. His next goals include clocking below three minutes and 50 seconds at the outdoor 1500 meters and making Calvin’s stud list for the steeplechase event and 5000 meters.

Beyond the men’s performance in the DMR, Junior Brandan Knepper set the new school record in the 3000 m, running eight minutes and 24.1 seconds at GVSU Bill Clinger classic and ranking No.45 nationally. The last record, eight minutes and 25.26 seconds, was set in 1996 by Lee Doherty.

Like all the other athletes, it was the first official Calvin record for Knepper, one he found “highly rewarding.” “It was extremely exciting and thrilling to think about how far I’ve [come] during my time running here at Calvin,” Knepper said. “Having the chance to contribute to the strong history of Calvin’s distance running is an honor and it leaves me excited for what can be accomplished moving forward.” He also ran 14 minutes and 28.51 seconds in the 5000 meters at GVSU Big Meet, ranking No.32 nationally. Knepper is a distance runner who’s been running since fourth grade. This indoor season marked the highest mileage he has held, with over 70 miles a week for the entire season. 

Adeboyejo setting a new record (Photo Courtesy of Brandan Knepper)

Another school record was set by first-year student Owen Adeboyejo who ran seven minutes and 17 seconds and placed eighth in the 60-meters dash. Adeboyejo, who joined the team in October, described the experience as “amazing.”

The series of successes during the indoor season has many members of the track team looking forward to competing in the outdoor events coming up this latter half of the semester. 

“I think that the track team’s record-breaking this year shows continued success of the program,” Heeringa said.