MARION, Ind. -- The Indiana Wesleyan University men's and women's outdoor track and field programs have found much success in the past at the NAIA National Championships.
In 2008, the men's team earned a sixth place finish in St. Louis for the best team result in Indiana Wesleyan history. Since 2000, Indiana Wesleyan has won five NAIA national championships, including Thomas Collett in the Long Jump in the meet's first year at Indiana Wesleyan.
But Wildcat head coach John Foss knows there is a possibility for both the men's and women's teams to jointly finish in the top-10 in 2012.
"I would think that both the men's and women's teams have a real good shot at being in the top-10 this year," said Foss. "And we've never had both teams in the top-10 in the same year. That would be a first for us."
Both teams will look to improve upon the team finish in 2011. The women took 14th place while the men were 28th. Foss has some student-athletes this year that could improve upon those places with individual national championships and All-American performances.
"We've got a really good men's team," added Foss. "We've got experience in Darrian Mikell who was an All-American last year in the Long Jump, and he has a really good opportunity in placing and scoring in the Long Jump and High Jump this year. There's Kyle Abney, who was No. 5 in the Shot Put a year ago and returns ranked No. 5 again this year and he could win. James Schortgen is ranked fifth in the Hammer Throw and he's capable of third."
"And the 4x800 Relay team, if we're healthy as we've had some injuries, if we can get to the finals on Thursday, we think it's a top-five team. Andy Lipiec and Jake Smith in the hurdles, they're not expected in the top-eight but you never know what can happen with that much energy and two quality guys like that. Every event that we are competing in we have a chance."
Foss believes senior Victoria Lee could be a national champion in the Women's Hammer Throw a year after finishing runner-up. Those possible 10 points could really benefit the women's team in the overall competition.
"We have our leader on the women's side in Victoria Lee who we believe will win the Hammer Throw," continued Foss. "And if she wins that event that's 10 points and you can't go wrong with 10 points."
"Our women's 4x800 is seeded fifth and they are strong and are a good team. They could easily be in the top two or three," stated Foss. "Kayla Ewert is in the Steeple and she is just one good race away from making the finals and another good race from being an All-American. If Stephanie Colter can get the starting height, which is 5 feet 4 inches in the High Jump, and one more height she'll be an All-American. Paige Smith in the Discus has been improving dramatically. Even though she's seeded 21st I think she has a shot of possibly scoring."
The NAIA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships are being held May 24-26 at Indiana Wesleyan. It is the third straight year the meet is being held in Marion.