MARION, Ind. -- Indiana Wesleyan University men's outdoor track and field looks to keep it's strangle hold on the Mid-Central College Conference this weekend at the MCC Championship in Upland, Indiana.
The Wildcats have won the past three conference title and five of the last six. Overall, IWU has already won seven conference championships.
"We enter the Mid-Central College Conference championship on the men's side with Taylor and Bethel as the team's to look out for," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach John Foss. "It's at Taylor so that gives them a bit of an advantage. They have some young athletes who have had pretty good years so we expect a bit of a battle on the men's side."
IWU has the potential to win many individual MCC championships this weekend. But depth in single events across the board is a key for a possible third straight conference win.
"We are very balanced as that is something that we strive for," said Foss.
Indiana Wesleyan may be strongest in the field events, especially in the throws.
"With Kyle Abney, who is No. 2 in the nation in the Shot Put, we expect big things out of him in the Shot Put and Discus," stated Foss. "James Schortgen is No. 5 in the NAIA in the Hammer Throw and he will do Hammer, Shot Put, and Discus. And of course, right behind those two guys and sometimes ahead of them, is James Allen. That gives us a nice 1-2-3 punch in the throws."
"Adam Miller will be throwing the Javelin," continued Foss. "He's been injured so technically it's about the first time he's thrown. And he's a potential winner in the Javelin. Jonathan Carder, after competing in the Decathlon, we realized how good he was in the Javelin so it's a new event for him and he could score. So throws look good."
The Wildcats also seek a lot of points in the jumping events this weekend.
"Darrian Mikell always gives us a lift in the Long Jump and the High Jump," added Foss. "But right behind him in the High Jump is Nick Brown and Caleb King, a senior and a freshman. It gives us a good 1-2-3 punch. And when you go over to the Long Jump you don't have to go back very far to find our freshman Desmond Sleigh about 10 centimeters behind where Darrian is at. So our jumps are pretty strong in those events."
Relays will be entertaining as teams are very competitive in the events.
"In the 4x800 we'll put up a fight. That will be a real thickly contested event. I'm not sure how it will come out but we could win," said Foss. "We have the best 4x400 and should win. And our 4x100 is the third best behind Bethel and Taylor. So the relays will be a scramble."
Indiana Wesleyan will show depth in the hurdle this weekend as well. Andy Lipiec is always near the top and he will be joined by a pair of freshmen.
"In the hurdles, Andy Lipiec has already qualified for the nationals, he will have a battle with the hurdler from Marian to win the conference in the high hurdles," Foss stated. "In the 400-Hurdles, freshman Casey Gauss has been moving up steadily and Jake Smith, another freshman, they could surprise some people. They have been middle of the pack right now but they could surprise."
Foss has been very pleased and excited about the quick progress in sprints this season.
"In the sprints we have been getting faster and faster. We're on the verge of actually contending for events we didn't think we would even score in a month ago. That's Desmond Sleigh in the 100 and Andy Lipiec in the 200 and Jordan Easley right behind them. So we could score some big points in the 100 and 200. In the 400 we potentially have the champion there in Alex Hendricks. He's seeded second but only by 0.1 second. Right behind him is Justin Shaffer and both of those guys are freshman. And senior Will Spencer is starting to come on so that's a 1-2-3 punch."
Indiana Wesleyan will also boast much talent in the distance events.
Foss said, "In the 1,500 and 5,000 we have Ethan Naylor who you can't go wrong with. In the Steeple we have a nice 1-2 with Matt McAndrews and Andrew Albert. We come back in the 5K with a huge punch of Ethan Naylor, Andrew Albert, and Ethan Laudermilch. All three are in good scoring position. In the 10,000, Laudermilch is going to do it for the first time this year and we think he might be able to win."
Foss believes that nine or more Wildcats are capable of winning MCC individual championships this weekend.
"So quite a few there with Ethan Naylor, Ethan Laudermilch, Andrew Albert, Kyle Abney, James Schortgen, Darrian Mikell, Casey Gauss, Desmond Sleigh, Alex Hendricks are all guys that are capable, and I've left off a couple, of winning conference championships. So it could be an exciting weekend for us. We're trying to contend with graduation and all the excitement of this time of year and hoping we're not sapped too much this weekend. We'll see how the chips fall but we're excited going in."
Indiana Wesleyan will seek the seventh MCC championship in program history this weekend. The meet begins at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and will continue on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Taylor is offering a live video feed which can be viewed for $4.95 per day. The video stream will be a single camera production that will focus mainly on track events, but field events will be shown when possible between track events.
The link to the live stream is available through the Taylor website on the following link: http://athletics.taylor.edu/stream.