HU’s short track and field season was still a successful one.
By Katie Sell, Staff Writer
Although the 2020 track and field season was cut short, this did not compromise success for the Huntington track team. Foresters traveled to South Dakota early March to compete at Nationals, where they racked up copious titles and honors. The women’s indoor track and field team completely dominated, earning the NAIA National Champion Title — a first for both the program and any Huntington athletic team in history.
In addition, they claimed both the DMR and 4×800 Relays, tabbing two more National Champion titles. Coach Joel Childs was awarded Women’s Indoor Coach of the Year, and Tracey Blocker was named Women’s Indoor Assistant Coach of the Year. In total, the team collected 19 All-American Honors from the three-day event.
Senior Aspen Dirr was voted Athlete of the Meet as well as Most Valuable Performer, and she also holds the National Champion title in the 1000 and the mile. Junior Hannah Stoffel snagged National Champion in the 800. Noteworthy team members of the DMR and 4×800 relays are Molly Mitchell, Mara McFarland, Olivia Von Gunten, Jessica Chojnacki and Jordan Adam. These girls are incredible athletes and deserve great recognition for their efforts and talent. They are absolute powerhouses!
“These athletes have been focused and doing all of the small things since NAIA Cross Country Nationals to get themselves prepared for Indoor Track and Field Nationals,” said coach Childs. “It was the fact that they had been doing all of the small things since then that really allowed them to achieve at such a high level. Our biggest concerns going into Nationals was making sure that we got our men and women into the events that would allow them to maximize their chances to showcase their talent, the work they had been putting in and lastly maximizing the point we could score as a team. So, we made some gambles and hedged some bets, and it just happened to work out well for us.”
A lot of hard work and dedication went into the season from the runners and coaches, but unfortunately, everything came to a close right before the outdoor season.
Coach Childs expressed, “I am very disappointed about this. We are missing out on a great opportunity to further show the NAIA what we can do on a national level. But moreover, I am even more distraught that our graduating athletes will not get a chance to show how much they have progressed from last year…There are certain events that only exist in outdoor meets, so there are a lot of athletes who will not get a chance to compete in those events ever again. My heart goes out to them, and I feel for them deeply.”
Senior Molly Mitchell, who is a DMR and 4×800 National Champion, voiced her perspective: “Not only am I disappointed knowing I won’t be competing for HU anymore, but my heart hurts for athletes who won’t get to reap the rewards for all their hard work. Fortunately, there is a great opportunity for growth through this.”
The team remains optimistic in the mess, however.
“As for the future, we’re just really trying to nail down that this sort of success does not have to be a ‘once in a lifetime thing’ and it can be emulated in the future,” Childs affirmed.