Students running on track

The Wide Track is Put to the Test

Written by Luke Daigneault

On February 7 and 8, Hillsdale College hosted its first full invitational meet in the new Biermann Center. The new track is very unique because it is the widest flat 200 meter track in the NCAA. This means that the Biermann is very attractive to teams with athletes looking to hit qualifying marks for the national meet. How so? There are four main types of tracks allowed for competition in NCAA sanctioned meets: flat 200m, banked 200m, oversized 300m, and undersized 160m. The banked and oversized tracks have been proven to produce faster times; thus, the NCAA requires that the qualifying marks be adjusted for these tracks. For instance, the provisional qualifying time for the 5000 meter run on a flat 200m track is 14:56.59, but it is 14:47.40 on a banked or oversized track. Technically, one does not have to run as fast to qualify on a flat 200m.

In theory, the Hillsdale College indoor track is the fastest flat 200m track in the world, so it should be one of the best places to qualify for nationals. This weekend was its first real test as the season is shaping up, and the results did not disappoint.

Provisional qualifying marks were hit in nearly every event on the male and female side, with the exception of the open distance events, men’s championship mile (barely missed by .92 seconds), women’s open 200 and 400, and the 4×800 relays. A few dominant automatic qualifiers stood out as well. These are athletes who hit the mark which guarantees them a spot in the national meet:

  • Calvin Sullins of Sienna Heights scored 5255 points in the men’s heptathlon. His lowest score of any event was 634 in the men’s shot-put.
  • Kristen Hixson of Grand Valley hit 4.2m in the pole vault, smashing the auto standard of 4m.
  • In an outstanding closing performance on Friday night, the Ashland men’s distance medley relay ran a blistering 9:55.79.
  • Sophomore John Broaden of Indiana Tech barely squeaked under the auto standard by only one hundredth of a second in the 200m championship, running 21.68.

In addition to those standout competitors, two Hillsdale College school records were broken:

  • Corinne Zehner broke through Kathryn Hunt’s 60m hurdles record from 2009 and lowered the mark to 9 seconds flat.
  • In an epic battle, the Hillsdale men set a new school record in the 4x400m relay, the final event of the meet. Ty Etchemendy, Matt Raffin, Elliot Murphy, and Maurice Jones together put forth a phenomenal effort to run 3:18.34, achieving the school record, provisional standard, and the victory. In the final 60 meters, Maurice Jones ran down both Grand Valley and Indiana Tech teams to take the win in dramatic fashion.

The wide track definitely lives up to its expectations. The Biermann Center could become a very popular racing venue for competitors in all events in the coming years. Go Chargers!

Luke Daigneault is currently a freshman at Hillsdale College, majoring in Economics and minoring in Philosophy. Luke runs for the cross-country and track teams and is involved in the Fairfield-Gadfly Group on campus.