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Pennington and Barrow lead the Foresters

HOME RACE: Avniel Barrow rounds the final stretch in the 4×100  race and past a Grace opponent. (photo provided)

The HU men’s and women’s track and field teams have had widespread success this 2017 outdoor season.

On April 22, the Foresters competed in the 112th annual Little State Championships at Taylor University. The HU women placed 7th out of 15 teams, and the men finished 11th. Competing in the meet were Indiana teams from NAIA, NCAA Division II and Junior Colleges.

Nicole Pennington raked in the points for the Foresters. The junior placed 3rd in the 100 meters with a time of 12.84, 4th in the 200m with a time of 27.22, and anchored the 4x100m and 4x400m, which finished 5th and 4th respectively.

The 4x100m team also consisted of Samantha McCoy, Michelle Kelsey and Molly Mitchell, who together ran a time of 50.93. In the 4x400m, Pennington teamed up with Kelsey and McCoy again, and along with Aspen Dirr, the women claimed their fourth place spot with a time of 4:21.96.

Pennington said this season has been one to remember, both on and off the track.

“I’ve been able to hit times that a few years ago, I never would have imagined possible, and it’s been really cool to see how God has blessed me through glorifying Him,” she said.

The 4×800 meter relay team of Dirr, Bianca Tisdale, Kelsey Graber and Rachael Smelser also earned points for the Foresters by posting a 5th place finish by turning in a time of 10:58.58.

Paige Coolman (107-2) and Brooke Saylor (100-5) finished 4th and 7th respectively in the javelin, earning seven points for HU.

The Foresters also got points from Mitchell in the 400 meters (6th, 1:03.11) and Kelsey in the triple jump (4th, 32-0.25).

Avniel Barrow led the HU men on the track by running the 100m in 11.22 seconds to claim 4th place. He then teamed up with CJ Robertson, Bradey Gerke and Adam Woods to finish 8th in the 4x100m relay as the men ran the race in 44.15 seconds.

The 4×400 team of Robertson, Bradey Gerke, Elston Jones and Michael Bowman ran the 4x400m relay in 3:29.10 to finish 7th.

The 4×800 meter relay team of Bowman, Jones, Codi Wiersema and Nick Childs also earned points for Huntington by crossing the line 7th in 8:16.94.

Senior Brooks Gerke claimed 4th in javelin with a throw of 150-9. Austin Willey also earned points for the Foresters with his 9th place finish in the 3,000m steeplechase with a time of 10:18.49.

Gerke has had a stellar senior season despite missing several meets due to injury. He competes in several different events for the Foresters and has goals for himself and his team of making Nationals.

“With the conference meet coming up, I think our team has a lot of potential going into it,” he said. “Coach Childs has been excellent and put everyone in a great position to succeed.”

Childs is in his first year at the Forester helm.

“Personally, I would love the chance to win field athlete of the meet because that’s always been one of my goals,” Gerke said.

The veteran is optimistic about upcoming seasons after competing alongside this year’s freshmen and underclassmen on the team, who he said show a lot of promise.

“I’m very encouraged about the future of the track program as well.”

The Foresters will compete in the Crossroads League Championships at Taylor University on May 5th and 6th, and the Dr. Keeler Invitational at North Central College on May 11th and 12th. The NAIA Outdoor Championships will be held in Gulf Shores, Alabama on May 25th and 27th.

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