By Steven Marowski
In the 2016 indoor season, the men’s track team finished third at the MIAA Indoor Championship behind Trine University and Calvin College. The women finished fourth behind Calvin, Hope College and Adrian College. This year, in the 2017 season, both teams are looking to make improvements and hopefully finish higher than they did last year. That’s the goal for Head Coach Lance Coleman, but the athletes will determine their goals, not Coleman.
“This year, we’re going to sit down when we come back from break, and part of our daily routine will be breaking into groups and determining goals,” said Coleman. “Myself and the other coaches will have goals we expect from the team, but the men and women will break out into groups and have goals that they determine in those groups as athletes.”
Last year, the Brits were fairly young. Of the 40 athletes on the men’s team, 19 were first-year competitors. The women’s team had 17 first-year athletes out of 38 total team members.
“There’s a business-like attitude as well,” said Coleman. “I think since the seriousness is there more so than last year when they were younger.”
Coleman said that he hasn’t named captains yet, since he has athletes competing in other sports. He’s beginning to get a good feel of who the leaders will be this year, but he wants to wait and see who steps up during the early part of indoor practice after winter break.
The men’s team lost eight seniors from last year, including the MIAA’s Most Valuable Track Athlete, Justin Meredith (‘16). Meredith holds school records in the 100 and 200 meter sprints. However, the men will have Richard Annorat, a sophomore from Naples, Florida, and Jephte Jean-Claude, a sophomore from Traverse City returning. Both sophomores were All-MIAA selections last year. Annorat won the high jump (1.93m), and Jean-Claude won the triple jump (13.29m).
“For the men’s, our strengths will be in the hurdles, distance, horizontal [jumps] and high jumps,” said Coleman. “I think those are our obvious strengths with our returners.”
Along with those events, Coleman thinks their relays and sprints will surprise some people. Although the team doesn’t have many throwers, he said the ones they do have are showing a ton of improvement and are working hard.
From the 2015-16 team, the women lost six athletes including Alyssa Wright (‘16) who holds the school record in the hammer throw. However, they will have Maicey Peterson, a senior from Clarkston, Michigan, who holds school records in the 100 meter hurdles and pole vault and is a returning member of the 4×100 relay.
“I think the strength for the women’s team is our balance,” said Coleman. He says the team should be able to score in throws, distance, mid-distance, jumps, short sprints and long sprints.
Only about a month into practice, Coleman has been very encouraged by what he’s seen. The men’s team has shown they’re ready to move into the openings left by the athletes who have graduated. They’ve also stayed healthy which was a big concern for the returners.
Coleman said the women’s team has been working very hard. Most of the returners in the sprints, jumps and hurdles are continuing to work. He’s had a pleasant experience of hard work, great attitudes and competitiveness the past four weeks.
One attitude that Coleman has consistently seen is a competitive nature every day in practice.
“In the past, we’ve had competitive attitudes, but it shows up when we compete,” said Coleman. “This year, they’re coming in, and both teams are competitive in practice. They’re making sure they push themselves to the limit during practice.”
On Saturday, Dec. 3, both the men’s and women’s teams will travel to Angola, Indiana, for the Winter Opener. The indoor season begins on Feb. 4 at Anderson University.