After a first-place finish at South Dakota State Jan. 24, the mens’ track and field team is fighting injury and building consistency to move forward with its 2015 season.
While no season-ending injuries have been sustained, head coach Dave Gottsleben is still pushing for his athletes to get healthy.
“We are getting healthier as we speak,” he said. “Our goal is, by the end of January, to assess where we’re at. As in any sport, little ticks and bruises can happen. We’re not overly concerned, but hopefully we can get some kids back.”
While the meet last weekend was scored differently than usual, Gottsleben said it still shows credibility of the athletes.
“Our high-end kids are good,” he said. “It was against conference rivals North Dakota State and South Dakota State, so we’re happy with that.”
Those high-end athletes come in the form of senior throwers Kyle McKelvey and Cody Snyder, to name two, who took home first place finishes and broke personal and school records at the first two meets of the season.
“North Dakota State has a lot of good people, so now Kyle and I are No. 1 and No. 2, which is where we wanted to be,” Snyder said. “It’s exactly what we wanted. Especially starting out the indoor season, I never really knew how far we’d get to, and right at 60 feet is as good as I could have hoped for.”
To build off that start to the season, McKelvey said he is now focusing on consistency to carry him through to the end of the season.
“Age plays a huge role in it,” he said. “When we were younger, we weren’t looking to be consistent. We were looking to throw things extremely far. We thought that was important, but now everyone’s a little older, has been around the block a little bit, and we know how important it is to be able to do it every week and then eventually be able to hit a big one. First thing first is consistency.”
The men took first place at the Jim Emmerich Alumni Invitational in Brookings, with Snyder claiming a first place victory in discus. Sophomore Dustin Valind came in second for the event.
Snyder and McKelvey each threw 59-11 3/4 to tie Snyder’s school and state record from last year. Junior Teivaskie Lewin and senior Erik Hill placed first and third in the 60 hurdles, with sophomore Mach Dojik taking first in the 600-meter run. First-year Gawain Williams also placed second in the 60-meter dash.
Dojik took first in the 800-meter run, while Taylor Chapman finished fifth in the 1,000-meter run at the Lincoln, Neb. Holiday Invitational Jan. 16-17. Junior Erik Jorgensen took home third place in the unseeded pole vault.
McKelvey won the men’s shot put and recorded a new career best. Snyder finished fourth in the event. Junior Peter Chapman was sixth in the pole vault, and sophomore Tyler Frank was eighth in the high jump.
“I’ve never been able to start my first two meets this well,” McKelvey said. “It’s encouraging.”
The team will now compete every weekend for the rest of the season, ultimately looking forward to conference action.
“Track is different than football or basketball. It’s the end of the indoor season, so we’re going to take little strides to get healthy by that time,” Gottsleben said. “I feel good about the quality, and our kids are working hard.”
(University of South Dakota’s Mubarik Musa and Isaac Allen run distance at the Holiday Invitational in Lincoln Neb., which took place Jan. 16-17. Submitted photo / Peter Chapman)