The track team went indoors for their trip to Birmingham, Alabama to tackle the 2017 D-II Indoor Track and Field Championships. But before they headed to Alabama, they had members of the squad receive recognition for their performances.
Minnesota State Head Coach Jim Dilling and assistant coach Chris Parno received Head Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year honors respectively from the United States Track and Field Cross Country Association.
The team had plenty more to do in Alabama, as there was more flash to add for the team with two athletes in particular who performed exceptionally well over the weekend.
“Nene and Mike stole the show. Mike was ranked No. 1 heading into the weekend so we knew it was his to lose,” said MSU assistant coach Parno. “He had a great two first jumps that cemented the championship for him. Nene was ranked fourth going into the competition after finishing as the runner-up last year. She had a great reaction to the gun and got out in front right away! She ended up inching it out by a thousandth of a second to be the first 60m hurdle champion the school has ever had!”
Michael Sandle was also named D-II Region Central Indoor Athlete of the Year for his 16.42m mark on the season. He followed it up by grabbing the triple jump national title in Alabama with a 52’10.25” bound to grab him the championship.
Others grabbed some bigger achievements, as Mitchell Valli soared for a 16’6.75” pole vault to snag All-American honors. Isaiah Pitchfork, John Schuster, Tanner Ogren and Morris Dennis also performed admirably, taking fifth in the men’s 4×400 relay while setting a school record.
“Other highlights were the other six First-Team All-Americans. Mitch Valli finished 7th in the pole vault, Khadiya Hollingsworth finished tied for third in the high jump and the Men’s 4x400m finished 5th with a new school record of 3:12.68,” said Parno.
“Outdoor season will be a great time! We open up already this weekend in Emporia, Kansas with about 40 of our athletes. It’s supposed to be 60-70 degrees so its always a great place to open up and get some good marks. We add back some national athletes this outdoor season that were out of eligibility indoors like Faryn Wirkus, Jovonte Suber and Brooke Foreman. It will be fun to get them back in the mix and get the season started on a good note!”
Parno and the team are ready to head outdoors as the weather warms up for the spring season.