Marker, Hansen, Butler qualify for NCAAs

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In preparation for the upcoming North Coast Athletic Conference Championships, the track teams competed in multiple meets last weekend at Baldwin-Wallace, Hillsdale and Oberlin.

Many personal records  (PRs) were beaten to make the weekend a successful one.

Chris Marker, ’11, and Ryan Hanson, ’10, attended the Hillsdale Outdoor Gina Relays Friday in Michigan, where both men picked up NCAA qualifying times. In the 5k, Marker placed fourth out of 136 participants with his automatic-qualifying time. His time is also a new Allegheny College record.

Hanson recorded a provisional-qualifying time when he placed ninth out of 89 runners in the 1500m. His performance earned him honorable title of NCAC Distance Runner of the Week.

Coach Bill Ross then traveled Saturday to the Baldwin-Wallace Sparky Adams Invitational, where the men’s track team was led by Andrew Mahone, ’11, who finished runner-up in the 800 and missed the NCAA provisional cut by less than a second.

“To me qualifying for nationals would be a bonus,” Mahone said. “I’m going for it but in a way, I have no expectations of myself.”

The men’s 800 was the highlight of the day for Ross. Ben Eyer, ’10, and Mike Vlah, ’13, also competed in the race, finishing eighth and ninth, respectively.

Ryan Sullivan, ’11, had a runner-up finish in the 5k, in which runner Jakob Zimmerman, ’13, also placed fifth. Anthony Hessell, ’12, finished eighth in the 3,000 steeplechase.

Lauren Butler, ’12, led the women’s team with a runner-up finish in javelin and sixth place in shot put Saturday. Her javelin distance was enough for an NCAA provisional qualifying time.

Holly Wilson, ’13, took fourth place in the triple jump while Hannah Smith, ’10, took sixth.

Teammates Emily Norton, ’12, and Calleigh Hughes, ’12, traveled to Oberlin last weekend for the NCAC Pentathlon. Norton finished seventh while Hughes took 11th overall but won the javelin event.

Every year there are three major track meets across the country the weekend around April 23: the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, the Gina Relays in Hillsdale and the Drake Relays in Iowa.

“If you really want to qualify for the national championship, then you should try to get to one of those three,” Ross said.

When a window of opportunity opened for Ross to take athletes to Hillsdale, he felt Marker and Hanson were “looking really good.”

“I would’ve felt guilty not going,” Ross said. “They needed to go to one of those meets.”

Marker and Hanson were not the only athletes who performed well in the eyes of Ross this weekend.

“I could not be happier with my team-their performances were wonderful despite the conditions,” Ross said.

The conditions he said were of poor management. The meet was hours behind schedule. Wilson elaborated.

“The clock broke and then there were some problems with the gun going off,” she said. “Consequently, I think some people didn’t have enough time to warm up.”

Nevertheless, Ross was pleased with his team in preparation for the conference championship. Mahone is also confident in his fellow distance runners.

“Everybody’s been running PRs,” he said. “As far as mid-distance and distance goes, things are shaping up real well.”

Wilson, a freshman, said she’s excited to see how it pans out.

“Coach Ross always says we’re more of an outdoor team than indoor,” she said. “Overall, I think people are expecting to do pretty well.”

“How many people can I beat, how many points can I score for my team? That’s the goal,” Ross said.

If the opportunity presents itself based on the field, then Ross is also looking toward the possibility of national qualifying performances as well.

“At the conference meet, it’s all about pride,” he said. “You say, ‘I don’t want this Ohio Wesleyan person beating me.’ So you try that much harder and end up running a national qualifying time.”

His goal is to finish in the top three for both men and women when they travel to Ohio Wesleyan this weekend for the NCAC Conference Championships.