HILLSDALE, Mich. – In the final tuneup before the 2017 Crossroads League Championships, the Spring Arbor University track and field teams took part in the 51st Annual Hillsdale College Gina Relays, one of the premier events in the region. The Cougars competed in a field consisting of more than 1,450 athletes across all NCAA divisions.
Highlighting the three-day event for Spring Arbor were the performances of Kevin Smith and Bethany Kuenzer, who both hit automatic qualifying standards in the decathlon and pole vault, respectively, for the NAIA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships.
EVENT: 51st Annual Hillsdale College Gina Relays
TEAM FINISH: No team scoring
LOCATION: Ken Herrick Outdoor Track | Hillsdale, Mich.
- Smith finished third in the decathlon with 5977 points. The Battle Creek, Michigan native took second place in two events – the long jump (22' 1.75") and pole vault (12' 7.50") – while earning third in the javelin throw (136' 5").
- Smith currently ranks 15th nationally in the decathlon.
- Mitch Hession placed 10th in the 110 meter hurdles. He turned in a career-best time of 15.76, which ranks ninth on the program's Top 10 list.
- In the sprints, Alex Lodes ran well against a field comprised almost entirely of NCAA Division I athletes, finishing in 11.19. Austin Hickerson finished second in 400 meter dash in 50.08.
- Out of 62 runners, Logan Robart finished 30th in the 800 meter run with a time of 1:58.00. Jacob Hoppe finished the 5000 meter run in 16:47.48.
- Austin Hundley finished 14th in the discus (119' 10"), 18th in the hammer (130' 6") and 18th in the shot put (39' 3.0").
- In addition to the athletes competing at Hillsdale, Spring Arbor also sent two athletes to Goshen College for the Goshen Outdoor Race Walk. Noah Rogers finished in fourth place with a time of 28:41.22 while AJ Gruttadauro came in fifth with a time of 28:42.70.
- Kuenzer cleared 11' 10.0" on her final attempt to finish second in the pole vault. It was also enough to give her the NAIA A standard. She currently ranks 14th nationally in the event.
- Two Cougars recorded personal-best and SAU Top 10 marks in the heptathlon. Katrina Tovar finished fifth in the event with 3601 points and Liz Brueggeman finished eighth with 2893 points. Tovar's best event was the long jump where she grabbed second place with a leap of 16' 5.75". Brueggeman also saw her best finish come in the long jump with a mark of 15' 7.50".
- Victoria Harper ran a career-best time of 18:17.87 in the 5000 meter run – a time that ranks fifth all-time at SAU.
- Spring Arbor saw two more Top 10 performances come in the 400 and the 10,000 meter run. Jaydn Fuerst finished 14th out of 28 runners in the 400 with a time of 1:00.01 – good enough for sixth in the program history. Caitlin Clark and Hannah Hoffmann earned 11th and 12th place in the 10,000. Clark ran a 39:37.41 while Hoffmann was close behind, completing the race in 40:14.95, which ranks 10th at SAU.
- Ryan Laier placed ninth in the discus, launching it 126' 0". The mark was a career-best and ranks fifth in the program record book.
Spring Arbor will travel to Upland, Indiana for the 2017 Crossroads League Championships, hosted by Taylor University. The two-day meet will take place on Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6.