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Even though the South Dakota School of Mines men’s and women’s indoor track teams are a bit thin on numbers and depth this season, the Hardrockers will still be able to excel on an individual level and post some impressive marks
By Brad Blume
Sports Information Director
South Dakota School of Mines
RAPID CITY --- Even though the South Dakota School of Mines men’s and women’s indoor track teams are a bit thin on numbers and depth this season, the Hardrockers will still be able to excel on an individual level and post some impressive marks.
The Lady Hardrockers will only have eight athletes for the indoor season, while the men are just under 20 thinclads.
“Right now we are looking to improve individually as the season progresses. When we get to the DAC meet we will try to optimize their events and score as many points as possible,” Hardrocker track head coach Jerry Schafer said. “Right now we are just looking for their personal and individual improvements. There will be time to think about the team aspect as we get closer to the conference meet.”
Looking at the women’s team, the Hardrockers do not have any seniors on the roster, but list two juniors, a sophomore and a handful of promising freshmen.
The top returnees for the Hardrockers are junior Ashley Stewart in the high jump and Katrina Donovan in the throwing events.
“The provisional qualifier is 5-foot-3-inches and that is (Stewart’s) goal for indoors,” Schafer said. “She certainly has the ability to do that and make that height. We’ve been working on her take off and trying to make it a little bit quicker and more explosive.”
Donovan also has optimistic potential in the shot put and will also try her hand at the weight throw this year.
“It will be the first time in her career for trying the weight throw,” Schafer added.
After that, the ‘Rockers' roster consists of all newcomers.
Freshmen Kendra Crisman and Brittney Hovdenes seem to bring some high expectations to the squad after a very productive cross country season in which both runners earned all conference honors at the Dakota Athletic Conference meet. Both will be running mid distance during the indoor season.
“We are expecting them to run pretty close to their personal bests,” Schafer said. “They are in good shape and good spirits and look ready to go.”
Junior Jessie Chretien is new to the Hardrocker squad as well. She will concentrate her efforts on the mile race. And after competing in the Early Bird Meet at Black Hills State this past December, Schafer is expecting Chretien to better her time. She also ran cross country last fall.
“I am looking for (Chretien) to improve over her time she ran at Black Hills State in December,” Schafer said.
Another Hardrocker harrier that is competing indoors this season is Kim Kerce. She is also a distance runner that is looking for faster times as the season progresses. She will focus her skills on the 1,000 meter run
“We are looking for some improvement from her December race to see how far she’s come,” Schafer added.
As far as the DAC goes, it is no surprise that Black Hills State, Jamestown College and Dickinson State are all vying for a conference title. They all have quantity and quality up and down the rosters.
Dakota State and Minot State along with South Dakota Mines also can boast of quality, but are lacking quite a bit on the quantity side of things. “Dakota State and Minot are like us,” Schafer said. “They have somewhat smaller teams and are just looking for individual efforts here and there.”
On the men’s side, the Hardrockers list four seniors, one junior and a host of talented underclassmen.
Senior Chandler Caldwell is already having a stellar indoor season. Even though there has only been a handful of events since the Early Bird Meet in Spearfish (Dec. 4, 2007), the skilled pole vaulter has been entering meets around the region and finding a lot of success.
“He’s already set an indoor school record and has won a couple of meets (during the indoor season),” Schafer said.
Caldwell has the SDM indoor pole vaulting record with a height of 15-feet-7-inches. He has won a couple meets in the area and placed high in other, more competitive, events as well. He is also already automatic qualified for the NAIA meet later in March and is currently ranked second in the nation with the 15-7 mark.
“We are looking for him to continue his progress,” Schafer said. “We are going to go after that magic 16 feet. Once we get there we will reset our goals.”
Caldwell was a national qualifier last year and competed at the NAIA Indoor Meet.
Senior hurdler Tyler Flattum also competed at the national indoor meet a year ago and appears on pace to repeat that feat this time around. He already has a provisional mark, but hopes to improve on that mark in the 60-meter high hurdles sometime this season.
“We think he has a lot of upside and we will anticipate seeing that (potential) this season as he gets more practices under his belt,” Schafer added.
Senior Rob Hahn had an amazing cross country season, earning a trip to the national meet back in November. He is expected to do similar things as he transfers his efforts to the indoor track season. Hahn race will be the mile.
“We are looking for some improvement and shooting for a national qualifier,” Schafer said of Hahn. “We think he is more than capable of getting that after a stellar cross country season.”
Senior Colin Royer has been a speedster for the Hardrockers for the past three years, mainly running short sprints. Schafer is hoping to add a couple races to his resume` and utilizing his talents to help the team.
“His best race over the years has been the 200, but he has also led off our 4x400 relay team and given some solid performances,” Schafer said.
The coach added that Royer will be entered in a number of open 400 races to see how he competes this season.
Junior Matt Deardoff is a strong thinclad that can do good things in the shot put event. Schafer feels he has a shot at excelling in one of the most competitive events in the DAC, let alone the NAIA.
“Matt is a lot bigger and strong than he was last year. He’s already thrown twice, this season, further than (his best throws) last indoor season,” Schafer said. “So we anticipate that he will continue his progress. We also think that a national qualifying mark is in his reach.”
Sophomore Mark Wager is another strong runner that has the potential to have a breakout season. After transferring from Division I North Dakota State a year ago, Wager is starting to make a name for himself in the NAIA ranks in the 400 dash. “We are anxious to see what he can do when he’s with other competition,” Schafer said. “We think he can be a national qualifier as well.”
The rest of the team is mainly made up of underclassmen that add a little depth at each position. But as the season progresses each athlete may start to make a name for themselves and when the DAC meet roles around, could give the Hardrockers a little edge.
“We have a lot of kids that are freshmen and sophomores for the most part. They have been training very well,” Schafer said. “In the throws, the technique is coming around and in the sprints they have been working hard and finishing (races). I expect to see continued improvement. Our underclassmen distances runners are also practicing well and we look to see improvement over the December meet in their efforts as well.”
Looking at the conference, again Dickinson State, BHSU and Jamestown College appear to be the early front runners while Minot State, Dakota State and SDM look to compete in the individual arena.
“If we were to get good efforts and great performances out of everybody, we might have a shot at sneaking up into that fourth spot at conference,” Schafer said. “But our numbers and depth is down a little bit so it makes things a little harder.”
Competing as individuals may be a bit of a challenge for the Hardrocker teams --- but it’s something they have had to deal with for a number of years. But doing well in a number of individual events can add up.
“Right now the team goals are to improve individually,” Schafer said. “And each person’s efforts individually should prepare them to be team contributors once the conference meet rolls around.”
The conference meet is slated for Feb. 22-23 while the NAIA Meet will be held in Johnson City, Tenn., on March 6-8.
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