2019 Season Outlook

It looks to be another promising year for the track and field teams and they enter the season with high hopes and expectations. As has been the standard in the past, the teams will strive to improve on personal bests in each and every meet and push to maximize their talents. The Trolls have a great blend of experienced athletes and leaders as well as new talent that will make an impact.

A year ago the women’s team finished in sixth place at the conference championships and the men’s team was seventh. This year the teams look to make an improvement in those places and earn more points with higher finishes. The team will also strive to qualify a handful of athletes for both the NAIA and the NCCAA national championships.

“As is the goal every season, we will look to develop the potential in every athlete as well as perform our best as a team,” said ninth-year head coach Bob Brickman. “We will strive to reach qualifying standards and compete at the national level. As a team we hope to make an improvement in our overall performance at the NCCAA Outdoor Championship. With the number of athletes we have and events we can field, it is our goal to finish in at least the top half at the conference meet. A top four finish would be a great year.”   

The women’s team consists of 22 athletes of which 17 are returning from last season. They have a strong senior presence which provides leadership and will produce results on the track and in field events. In addition a number of the underclassmen proved to be contenders last year and rose to the top of their events. The five newcomers include four freshmen and one sophomore and cover a good mix of events.  

The women have a good blend of athletes in a wide range of events. The distance runners consist of a core of four runners who are mainly carry-overs from the cross country season. This group is the most experienced with three proven seniors. In the middle distances the Trolls have a solid group of six runners that consist of a mix of new and returning athletes. The team has a good number of sprinters with at least eight individuals who will compete in the shorter races. In the field events there are four individuals who will compete in the horizontal and vertical jumps. The number of throwers has decreased from previous years with three athletes competing in those events.   

“Our strongest events will be in the distance races and in the jumps where we have proven competitors,” said Brickman. “We also will benefit from a large group of seniors who have been leaders and provide a positive influence for the team.”

A very strong field for the team and an area where they will do well is in the distance runners. Even without NAIA national qualifier sophomore April VanRyn (Monee, Illinois), who will miss the season due to injury, the distance group is full of talent. Senior Megan DeWeerd (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) is coming off a national qualifying cross country season and is an established leader. In the past couple of years she has not competed much on the track, but is ready to race this season. Senior Nicole Syverson (Hawthorn Woods, Illinois) was a NCCAA Outdoor NAIA All-American a year ago. She can compete in events from the 1,500 to the 10,000 meter and will be a steady contender in those races. Senior Hope Fathman (Hamilton, Michigan), had her best cross country season this past fall and was another NAIA qualifier. On the track she specialized in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters a year ago. Also in the distance group is junior Corrie Jacobi (San Marcos, California), another cross country runner, who competes on the track in a number of events and helped out in the relays a year ago.

The Trolls have three returners to their middle distance group. Senior Brittany Hoekman (Hudsonville, Michigan) mainly competed in the 600 and 800 meters and in relay events last year and will fill a vital role in those events this season. Junior Mikayla VanLaan (Wayland, Michigan) has made improvements every year on both the track and cross country teams. She is an 800 runner and will help the team in the open event and on relay teams. Sophomore Annie Rangel (Palos Heights, Illinois) has come off a good cross country season and with one year of experience will help strengthen the middle distance events on the track.

Of the new comers to the middle distance events freshman Allie Boss (Frankfort, Illinois) will make the most impact. She was in the cross country team’s top four runners in the fall and has had a successful high school track career. Another newcomer to the middle distance is Valerie Hoekstra (Elmhurst, Illinois), who participated in three state meets in high school. Freshman Nicole Arias (Oak Lawn, Illinois), who was a member of the cross country team in the fall, will also add depth to the middle distance runners.

In the sprint races the team can call on a number of individuals. Sophomore Olivia Hoekstra (Elmhurst, Illinois) made a difference last year as she set school records in the indoor 200 meter and the outdoor 100 meter. She also placed in the 400 meter at the conference championships a year ago. Sophomore Muabon Paye (Carol Stream, Illinois) also was a contender in the sprints a year ago as well as in the jumping events.

Also competing in the sprints and providing more good opportunities in the short relays are returning runners sophomore Sarah DeVries (Grand Rapids, Michigan), junior Bailie Fredlock (Tucson, Arizona), senior Daisy Vazquez (Chicago, Illinois), junior Carissa Wisse (Oostburg, Wisconsin), who placed on various relay teams at the conference and NCCAA championships. Also returning to the team, but competing for the first time this season after sitting out last year with injury is sophomore Alexis VanRyn (Monee, Illinois). The newcomer to the group is sophomore Bethany VanderPloeg (Wyoming, Michigan).

Moving to the field events, a number of the sprinters also compete in the jumps. Paye will do both the long and triple jumps, which are events in which she placed at the conference championships. DeVries is also a long jumper and also competed in the pole vault in a few meets a year ago. VanRyn also joins the group of horizontal jumpers and will compete in the long and triple jumps.

Sophomore Madelyn Clausen (Lakeville, Minnesota) is the team’s high jumper and they will look to her to do well in that event. A year ago she earned All-Conference honors in the indoor and outdoor season in the high jump and tied a school record at 5-03. She also competed in the pole vault in a number of meets.

The team has a small group of throwers this year. Senior Taylor Yanke (Oak Lawn, Illinois) specializes in the discus and javelin. She also competed in the long jump a year ago. Junior Ally Lee (Holland, Michigan) missed last season due to injury, but will compete in a number of the throwing events. Joining the throwers this season is freshman Kate DeKryger (Hudsonville, Michigan) who will try her hand in the majority of the throwing events.

The men’s team has a total of 18 athletes which includes 12 returners and six new comers. A large majority of these athletes, 11 in total, worked together this fall on the cross country team and will use that experience to make the track team strong in the middle distance and distance races. The team will have three runners who specialize in the sprint races. In addition a couple of runners from the middle distance and sprint groups will specialize in the hurdles. The team lacks numbers in the field events with only one athlete dedicated to the throwing events, one high jumper, and one athlete in the long and triple jumps.

 “Our largest and strongest group is our middle distance runners,” said Brickman. “They will provide leadership and can score points. The men’s team has a good blend of athletes across the classes which provides a healthy balance of expectations and a natural flow of leadership.”

The team will have four individuals, all members of the cross country team, who will concentrate on the distance races. Senior Kyle VanderPlaats (Sioux Center, Iowa) ran events from the 1,500 to 10,000 meter last year and finished in sixth in the 10K at the NCCAA Outdoor Championships. He brings experience and consistency to the team. Senior Nick Heidinger (Crestwood, Illinois) competed in a wide range of events last year and placed in the steeple-chase and in the 1,500 meter at the conference meet. Sophomore Cole Akimoff (Salem, Oregon) brings a year of track and two years of cross experience. Freshman Ryan Mathes (Midlothian, Virginia) was one of the top seven on the cross country team in the fall and will carry that success over onto the track.  

The middle distance group is the largest group of runners. They are versatile with the ability to cover a number of events as well as provide a good relay base. A leader in that group will be sophomore Caleb DeWeerd (Sioux Falls, South Dakota). A year ago he qualified for the NAIA Indoor Championships in the mile and set a school indoor record in the 1000 meter. He missed the outdoor season due to injury. Another returner who provides stability and strength to the middle distance runners is junior Brantley VanOverloop (Hudsonville, Michigan). He mainly competes in events from the 800 to the 1,500 meters as well as in relays. VanOverloop will also compete in the javelin.

Also returning to the middle distance events are junior Jose Beltran (Palos Heights, Illinois), a member of the cross country team, senior Noah Friesen (Orland Park, Illinois), who runs events from the 400 meter to the mile, junior Nathan Krygsheld (Monee, Illinois), who will also compete in the 400 meter hurdles, an event in which he placed fourth at the CCAC Championships last year, and junior Andrew Miller (Alsip, Illinois), who also runs cross country. The newcomers to the group are freshman Andrew Dobrescu (Algonquin, Illinois), an all-state high school runner and a top three runner on the cross country team this fall, and freshman John Kennedy (Tinley Park, Illinois), a member of the cross country team.

The small group of sprinters will be led by returner sophomore Jurrone Petry (Slinger, Wisconsin), who has entered Trinity’s records book in a relay events. Sophomore Jim Bruinius (Tinley Park, Illinois) joins the team this season and he will run in the sprints as well as compete in the hurdle races. Also new to the team is sophomore Colin Stravers (Pella, Iowa), who ran track in high school.

The team has a limited number of field event athletes. Senior Michael Carthage (Ypsilanti, Michigan) is a long jumper and high jumper. He may also compete in a few of the sprint races. Freshman Tanner Blok (West Bend, Wisconsin) joins the team as a high jumper. Sophomore Ross Barz (Holland, Michigan) returns as the team’s only athlete concentrating in the throwing events. He competed in the shot put, weight throw, hammer, and javelin last season.

For the year the Trolls will compete in five indoor meets and six outdoor meets. The indoor season begins on January 19 at Grand Valley State University. The other meets on Saturdays through January and February are at St. Ambrose University, Olivet Nazarene University, and Ripon College, before ending the with the CCAC Indoor Championships hosted by Olivet Nazarene on February 15-16. National qualifiers will compete in the NAIA Indoor Championships in Brookings, South Dakota, on February 28-March 2.

The team begins their outdoor season at the Birmingham Southern College Invitational in Alabama at the end of their spring break trip.  The first two weekends in April they will compete at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois. April also has meets at Lewis University and Grace College. The CCAC Outdoor Championships will be held in Joliet, Illinois on May 3-4. For those who achieve the qualifying standards, post-season competition includes the NCCAA Outdoor Championships at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana on May 8-10 and the NAIA Outdoor Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama on May 23-25.