Fifteen Warriors make trip to NAIA Outdoor Championships

MARION, Ind. — Fifteen members of the Westmont Track and Field teams are ready to compete beginning on Thursday in the 61st NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships in Marion, Indiana.

On Wednesday evening, the team enjoyed a tradition which has developed over the last three years, eating ice cream at Ivanhoe’s Drive-In, in nearby Upland. While there, coaches and athletes shared their thoughts about the upcoming competition.

“Everybody seems relaxed,” said Westmont head coach Russell Smelley about his team. “The goal is to take away uncertainty and also take the tension down by not making the focus what they know they are going to do. We have had a lot of fun activities and have left them to themselves a lot. We have given them freedom to choose their eating and just to hang out. That seems to have them in a relaxed state of mine.”

The trip to Ivanhoe’s is part of the tension reducing strategy.

“Ice cream always makes things better,” said the coach who has led the Warrior track and field team for 32 years.

On Saturday morning, senior Caitlyn Corrao will be compete in the marathon, beginning at 6:00 a.m. (EDT).

“I have never done a marathon before,” said Corrao of the 26.2 mile-long race. “The longest I have ever run is 16 miles, but the longest I’ve run this year is 14. I am a little nervous, but I probably won’t be really nervous until the night before. I don’t know what to expect because I’ve never run that far before. I think I am ready and I trust the coaches and the training I have done.

“My goal is to run between 3:05 and 3:10,” said Corrao. “That is around a seven minute pace. I want to run easy for the first half and see how it is. If I feel okay, I’ll pick it up a little bit and see what I have for the last 10K or so.

Saturday will also see senior Scott MacDonald competing in the shot put for the second straight year.

“This is such a fun experience,” said MacDonald. “We are setting here in the middle of an ice cream and milk shake shop. It is great with all the different traditions and competing is always fun. It is a nice capper to a long season.

“We have really good team chemistry,” said MacDonald about the team. “This nationals group is incredibly cohesive, knows each other very well and is a good support system for each other. When you have a good support system, you really don’t have much to stress out about.”

When asked about his goals for the competition, MacDonald replied, “In Indiana it is really tough to predict the weather. It is about getting up there the day of (the event) and reacting to the competition. Last year, when there was so much rain, I came in as the very last ranked thrower and didn’t even throw the qualifying mark. But I still moved up nine spots.”

Also returning for a second time is junior Laurel Stormans who will compete with freshman Elysia Hodges in the 400 meter hurdles.

“I am excited to be back,” said Stormans. “I was (studying) abroad on Europe semester in the fall and I wasn’t sure if this was going to be happening again this year. I was also struggling with a hamstring injury for the first half of this year. I am pleased that everything has come together. I’m back and looking forward to running again. I qualified “B” standard in the prelims at the GSAC Championship and “A” standard in the finals. It pulled together at the last minute, which was nice.

“I am glad to be doing it with Elysia,” continued Stormans. “We are the only two (Westmont athletes) competing in the same event. We are lucky to be able to train together and we get to go out on the track together and compete together as well.”

Like MacDonald, Stormans was enthusiastic about the camaraderie of the team.

“It is a great group and we have 15 people,” said Stormans, “which is bigger than we have had a lot of teams we have had in the past. It is really good to have the (non-qualifying) seniors here as well, because they are a great team.”

Regarding race strategy, Stormans explained, “I pretty much go for it from the start. You can’t really pace it too much because you have to hit the hurdles correctly. So, I pretty much go all out and hold on as long as I can.”

Ten of the fifteen Warriors will begin competition tomorrow. In the multi-events, senior Adam Thompkins will begin the decathlon at 10:00 a.m. and senior Kristen Hempy will begin the heptathlon at 10:30 a.m.

Hempy will also compete in the javelin beginning at 4:00 p.m. and Taylor Frantom will compete in the women’s pole vault at the same time.

On the track, Evan Bradford will start things off for the Warriors with the third heat of the men’s 1500 meter prelims beginning at 1:55 p.m. The prelims of the women’s 1500 meter, which features Westmont Kate Stuart, will not be run since the field is small enough to advance all runners to the finals on Saturday.

Amanda Chevalier will race in both the 100 meter prelims and the 200 meter prelims on Thursday. In the third heat of both events, Chevalier will compete in the 100 meters at 3:30 p.m. and the 200 meters at 5:55 p.m.

The 800 meters will see Theresa Nealon competing at 4:10 in the first heat of the women’s event and Matt Shiney racing in the first heat of the men’s race at 4:30 p.m.

Hodges and Storman’s 400 meter hurdles prelims begin at 5:15 p.m. Nathan Kemp will conclude the day for the Warriors in the second heat of the 3,000 meter steeplechase beginning at 8:00 p.m.

“Everyone can advance,” said Smelley of his runners. “It will be challenging and hard, but I would anticipate and hope that everyone will advance to the next round.”