Track and Field compete in NCAA championships

By DAVID GLASS | March 15, 2018

HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Freshman Therese Olshanski placed seventh in the mile run at Nationals.

One week after their strong performances at the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships (ECACs), the Hopkins men’s and women’s track and field teams sent 10 athletes to Birmingham, Ala. to compete in the D-III Indoor Track and Field Championships.

On Day 1 for the men, sophomore Matthew Su competed in the long jump, while junior Grant Mosser represented Hopkins in the heptathlon.

Su’s career-best jump of 7.12 meters last weekend at the ECACs earned him the 12th seed entering the event. After qualifying for the finals, Su finished in ninth place with a mark of 6.82 meters.

Mosser started off strong in the 60-meter, finishing with a time of 7.36, earning seventh place. He followed that up with a 9.65-meter throw in the shot put, earning him 465 points. To end the first day, he placed fourth in the high jump with a mark of 1.90 meters, tacking another 714 points to his total.

Heading into the second day in ninth place overall, Mosser spoke about his mindset going into the event.

“I came in telling myself that I had earned my spot there, that I had been given a lot of talent and I did not want to waste it, and that someone had to win, so why not me?” he said. “Along with that I just wanted to make sure I took the time to appreciate my time there and make the most of it.”

Mosser began the day with an 11th place finish in the 60-meter hurdles and a 10th-place finish in the pole vault. 

In the 1,000-meter, Mosser put forth his best performance of the weekend. He finished in 2:41.22, earning him third place, as well as 860 points.

In the long jump, the final event, he had a 6.49-meter jump, good enough for seventh place. Mosser’s efforts accumulated 4,754 points and awarded him a 10th-place finish overall.

Mosser attributed his success to the constant support he has received from his fellow Blue Jays.

“I honestly would not have been able to make it to Nationals without my teammates and coaches,” he said. “There were times they believed in me more than I did in myself, and that really showed itself at meets like ECACs, where I had an incredible meet. They honestly were the most important part in my success this year.”

For the women, Day 1 saw action from five of the Jays’ eight athletes.

The Blue Jays had a strong showing in the mile prelim heat, as freshman Therese Olshanski finished in 4:57.73 and senior Caroline Smith finished in 5:07.01. Olshanski’s time qualified her for Saturday’s final.

With a time of 17:36.27, junior Ellie Clawson finished 16th overall in the 5,000-meter. 

Clawson shared her expectations for and thoughts of the race.

“I have had several little setbacks this season that have made it difficult for me to stay consistent with my training, but I felt like by Nationals I would feel ready to get after it,” she said. “I was pretty disappointed with my 5K, but my volunteer coach Nate Ghena told me I’m only allowed 10 minutes to dwell on a race. Always best to just learn from it and move on.”

In the long jump, sixth-seeded junior Maya Hammonds finished in 10th place with a mark of 5.42 meters. This performance comes a little over a month after Hammonds set the Hopkins record with a 5.76-meter jump.

Senior Jenn Su represented Hopkins in the heptathlon. She finished the 60-meter hurdles in 9.34, earning her a seventh-place finish. Marks of 1.44 meters in the high jump and 3.55 meters in the long jump placed her in 16th and 17th, respectively.

Su had her best performance of the day in the shot put, finishing in fourth place with a throw of 10.87 meters. Unfortunately, an injury caused Su to withdraw from the event.

On Day 2, Olshanski claimed seventh in the nation with a mile time of 4:59.42, capping off a successful rookie indoor season.

The three remaining Blue Jays who had yet to participate at NCAAs lined up for the 3,000-meter. Junior Felicia Körner, the only participating Blue Jay to have competed in last year’s NCAAs, finished with a time of 9:46.90, earning her 10th place.

Sophomore Rebecca Grusby finished the race in 9:56.20, which was good enough for 13th place, and junior Tasha Freed finished in 10:14.74. 

The Jays’ solid performance in the 3,000-meter comes one year after Körner finished in second place in the event and concludes an impressive indoor season for Hopkins.

Clawson, Smith, Olshanski, Grusby, Körner and Freed were all members of the National Championship winning cross country team this past fall. The six continue to rack up awards, with even more presumably on the way with the coming outdoor track and field season.

The Jays’ success comes behind some outstanding coaching. The U.S. Track & Field Cross Country Coaches Association named head coach Bobby Van Allen the Mideast Region Women’s Coach of the Year, along with Assistant Coach Alex Jebb as the men’s and women’s Mideast Region Assistant Coach of the Year. 

This marks the seventh time that Van Allen has earned the honor, and deservedly so. He led the Jays to their eighth straight Centennial Conference Championship and did so by the second largest margin in Conference history. On top of that, earlier in the season, Hopkins climbed up to No. 2 in the rankings, the highest in program history.

“It’s incredible in itself to compete at such a high level with the best D-III athletes in the nation. I was impressed with how everyone performed,” Clawson said.

She elaborated on the team’s indoor success at NCAAs.

“Our top seven [athletes] from cross country NCAAs all qualified for indoor NCAAs. The depth on our team is insane!” she said.

Hopkins will look to carry the momentum of their successful indoor season in the spring. The Blue Jays will head outdoors on March 30 in Richmond, Va., when they compete in the Fred Hardy Invitational.

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