2017 Season Outlook

The 2017 track and field season promises to be one of success as the student-athletes strive as a group and individually. Both the women’s and men’s teams have proven competitors that will push their limits in improving their performances as well as set the example for their teammates. The teams also have steady improvers that continue to find their strengths each season and develop into contenders. In addition, the Trolls have added a group of incoming athletes that have the potential to do well and add to the success of the program as a whole.

The Trolls will once again be under the direction of Bob Brickman in his seventh season as head coach and his 14th season overall with the program. Brickman, along with his coaching staff, have the experience and knowledge to get the best out of each athlete and to develop the teams.

“I like our teams this year and the group of athletes we have,” said Brickman. “I look forward to seeing what we can do, where our leaders will take us, how our veterans will test their limits, and how the younger athletes will develop.”

As the track program enters his 18th season and becomes more established, the level of talent also continues to increase and the competition gets stronger.  A season ago the women’s team set five new indoor records, finished in fourth of the 10 team at the conference meet, and qualified for two events in the NAIA Indoor Championships and one race in the Outdoor Championships.  The men’s team recorded two new marks in the indoor season and one in the outdoor competition, was tied for seventh place at the CCAC Championships, and had one NAIA outdoor qualifier.

This season the Trolls will continue to strive for individual national qualifiers, school records, personal bests, and top finishes. They look for a top five finish in the conference championships while competing against CCAC schools with larger and deeper rosters.  

The women’s team has a roster of 26 athletes of which 16 are returning from last season. Among the returners are two NAIA national qualifiers as well as four record holders. The nine newcomers include four freshmen and five sophomores. Three of those new runners competed in the fall cross country season.

The team has a good balance of athletes covering a wide variety of events. They will be strong in the middle distance races with proven leaders. The team also has a good group of returners in the horizontal jumps with the potential to do especially well in the triple jump. Also in the field events, the Trolls have a solid group of throwers and will be able to be competitive in those events.

“With our numbers we look to stay in the top half of the conference as a team,” said Brickman. “We also look to continue to have a variety of national qualifiers at the NCCAA level and have a few athletes reach NAIA standards.”

On the track senior Ashley Jourdan (Wyoming, Michigan) will lead the team. The middle distance runner is a three-time NAIA national qualifier in both the indoor and outdoor seasons. She earned NAIA Indoor All-America honors last spring and the same honors for the NCCAA for the past two years. She has been CCAC All-Conference in each of her previous three seasons. A year ago she qualified for the NAIA indoor championships in the mile, in which she finished in fourth place with a school record time, and in the distance medley relay as well as in the 1500 meter in the outdoor season. Overall Jourdan holds school indoor records in the 1000 meter, the mile, and in three relays, and outdoor records in the 1500 meter and in two relays.

Qualifying with Jourdan on the indoor distance medley relay team was middle distance runner senior Anna Spotts (Hamilton, Michigan), a three-time NAIA national qualifier. In addition to the DMR, Spotts has competed in the 4 x 800 meter relay, the 800 meter, and the 400 meter hurdles.    

Also competing in the middle distance races are one more returner and three newcomers. Senior Monica Czajkowski (Oak Forest, Illinois) missed last season due to injury, but brings cross country experience with her to the track.  Also with cross country experience are newcomers Brittany Hoekman (Hudsonville, Michigan) and Francesca Strolia (Orland Park, Illinois), who are both sophomores in their first year with the team, and freshman Mikayla VanLaan (Wayland, Michigan).  

Stretching the meters, the distance group has experience on the track as well as on the cross country course.  Sophomore Nicole Syverson (Hawthorn Woods, Illinois) was a NCCAA national qualifier in the indoor 5000 meter and outdoor 10,000 meter a year ago and she will continue to lead the group. Sophomore Hope Fathman (Hamilton, Michigan) also qualified in the 10,000 meter for the NCCAA outdoor championships and will build off of her good cross country season. Also coming off a fine cross year is senior Andrea Sanchez (Palos Heights, Illinois).
In the shorter races the Trolls will not be short on talent.  The four members of the 4 x 100 meter relay team that placed in fourth at the conference meet a year ago are all back. Junior Jessica Wiersma (Grandville, Michigan) holds the school’s 100 meter record and ranks in the top three in a number of sprints and sprint relays. Senior Erin Wessels (Fulton, Illinois) set a school indoor record in the 60 meter a year ago. Juniors Sarah Kliora (Roselle, Illinois) and Katie Moran (Naperville, Illinois) were NCCAA qualifiers in the 100 meter for the 2016 season. Moran will compete only in the outdoor season after she finishes her basketball season.   

Wessels, Kliora, and Moran also make up the group of jumpers in the long and triple jump. They have all hopped, skipped, and jumped to distances over 10 meters. Wessels qualified in the triple and long jumps for the NCCAA national indoor and outdoor championships last year while Moran was a NCCAA outdoor qualifier in the triple jump.

Also included in the sprint group is junior Celina Wanta (West Bend, Wisconsin), who will join the team for outdoor competition after her basketball season is complete. She specialized in the 400 and 800 distances in the past, earned all-conference honors, was a NCCAA qualifier in the 400 meter hurdles, and holds a school record in the 4 x 400 meter relay. Sophomore Christa Veenstra (Sully, Iowa) competes mainly in the 200 and 400 meter races as well as on relay teams. Junior Rachael Tupper (Montgomery, Illinois) did not participate last year, but was a sprinter in the 2015 season.

The newcomers in the sprints are freshmen Bailie Fredlock (Tucson, Arizona), Carissa Wisse (Oostburg, Wisconsin), who is also a member of the women’s basketball team, and sophomore Kylah Lacy (Park Forest, Illinois). They will provide depth and add to the potential of the relay teams as they develop into collegiate runners.

Moving to the field events the Trolls have a strong core of throwers. While the group does not have one stand-out athlete, they have a solid group of which all can contribute. Among the throwers are four returners and three newcomers.  Junior Daisy Geurink (Zeeland, Michigan) ranks second in the school outdoor records in shot put and hammer throw, two events she qualified in for the NCCAA championships last year. Along with those events she will also throw the shot put and weight throw in the indoor season.  Senior Rachel Kuipers (Grandville, Michigan) will throw the shot put in the indoor and outdoor seasons and add the discus in outdoor competition. Junior Rachel Janke (Palos Heights, Illinois) ranks fourth in the records book in the weight throw and in the hammer throw.  She has the potential to have a break-out year this season. Senior Molly Toepper (Manteno, Illinois), a member of the women’s basketball team, will compete in the outdoor season. Last year she was a NCCAA qualifier in the javelin and finished in fourth place in that event at the CCAC Championships.

The newcomers on the throwing team give the team depth and provide added potential. Taylor Yanke (Oak Lawn, Illinois) is a sophomore transfer in her first collegiate year of track competition. Freshmen Ally Lee (Holland, Michigan) and Miranda Nikkel (Sully, Iowa) competed for four seasons in high school and will make the transition to collegiate competition.

The men’s team consists of 17 athletes of which 11 were on the team last season. Of the six newcomers four carry-over from the cross country team and the other two compete on other teams at Trinity. Nearly half the team is upperclassmen who will provide leadership and set the tone for season.

“We have a good group of competitors and steady group of leaders who will do well,” said Brickman. “I expect a couple of our new runners to step to the forefront once they learn the collegiate race.”

The strength in the team lies in the distance events where the team has the most experience and number of competitors. In that area the team will rely on past success on the track, but also the success and training from the cross country season. One other area in which the team could do well is in the javelin where a couple of seniors are finding their rhythm.

“Our conference is very tough, and with our numbers we cannot put up as many points as some of the top teams,” said Brickman.” We will muster up whatever we can and focus on placing where we know we have opportunities. Our goal will not be so much in team points as in individual places and personal bests.”

The distance runners will be led by senior Cody Velthuizen (Lynden, Washington), who has earned all-conference honors for the past two seasons. A year he placed second in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the CCAC Championships and also set the school record in the 1000 meter. He ranks in the top five in four different races in Trinity’s records book.  Senior Alex Clark (Wyoming, Michigan) earned All-Conference honors as a sophomore and last season qualified for the NCCAA Championships in one indoor and three outdoor events. He can compete in the middle distance, distance, and relay events. Senior Keegan Fitzsimmons (Pella, Iowa) is only in his second season with the Trolls. Last year he ran the 5000 and 10,000 meter races and put up the fifth fastest time in Trinity’s records in the 10K. All three of these seniors have qualified for the marathon in this year’s NAIA Outdoor Championships.

The group of distance runners extends to five more runners. The returners are senior Joshua Whitten (Pella, Iowa) and sophomore Kyle Vander Plaats (Sioux Center, Iowa), who can run a variety of distances and have cross country experience. Two of the newcomers were also on the cross country team this season. Junior Nick Heidinger (Crestwood, Illinois) is in his first season with the Trolls. He has the potential to do well once he gets back into competition mode after sitting out for a couple of seasons. Freshman Brantley VanOverloop (Hudsonville, Michigan) did well in his rookie year on the cross country course, but does not have track experience. The newcomer to the group is freshman Luke Dykstra (Tulare, California), who was a cross country standout in high school. The team will look to him to strengthen the distance group and to move into the lead runners. This fall he competed on the men’s soccer team.  

The middle distance runners include four runners who were all members of the cross country team this past fall.
Sophomore Luke Boss (Frankfort, Illinois) is a returner and will compete mainly in the 800 meter as well as in relays. Also returning is sophomore Noah Wolters (Hudsonville, Michigan) who competed in the 1500 meter and 5000 in the indoor season and the mile in the outdoor season last year. Freshman Kevin Courtney (Crestwood, Illinois) has some speed and will help out in the 400 and 800 meters. Rounding out the group is freshman Jose Beltran (Palos Heights, Illinois).

The Trolls have a small contingent of sprinters, but they are not without experience. These athletes will help out on the track, but also participate in field events. Senior Jason Nagelkirk (Wyoming, Michigan) runs in the short sprints and sprint relays and is on the school’s record holding indoor 4 x 200 meter relay team. He also has experience in the horizontal jumps and will help the team out in the javelin, an event in which he earned All-Conference honors a year ago with a third place finish at the CCAC Championships and in which he was a NCCAA qualifier.  Senior Andy Boss (Frankfort, Illinois) also provides experience in the sprints and relays and will throw the javelin.  Last year he placed eighth in the javelin at the conference meet. Another returning sprinter is junior Justin Schutt (Oak Lawn, Illinois), who is also member of the record holding indoor 4 x 200 meter relay team. In addition he has experience in the long and triple jumps.

Joining the sprinters is newcomer Eddie Binion (Woodridge, Illinois), a sophomore. He is a member of the men’s volleyball team and will compete in the outdoor season once the volleyball season is completed.

In addition to the athletes already mentioned in field events, junior Sam DeKryger (Grandville, Michigan) represents the team in the throwing events with experience in the shot put as well as in the discus.  He also helps out in the sprint relays.

The track season for the Trolls consists of five indoor meets and six outdoor meets. The indoor season starts on January 21 at Trine University. The regular season indoor meet will end in the inaugural CCAC Indoor Championships hosted by Olivet Nazarene University on February 17-18. That meet is the same weekend as the NCCAA Indoor Championships, so the team will miss that national meet this year, but NAIA qualifiers will compete on March 2-4 in the NAIA Indoor Championships in Johnson City, Tennessee.

The outdoor season begins on April 1 at the University of Chicago. The majority of the outdoor meets are local events, but the team will travel to Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana on April 29. That meet is a first for Trinity and a first for Grace as they open a new track facility. The CCAC Championships will be held on May 5-6 in Joliet, Illinois. Post-season competition for those who reached qualifying standards includes the NCCAA Championships in Shawnee, Oklahoma on May 12-13 and the NAIA Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama on May 25-27.