They say home is where the heart is, and the Prairie Fire indoor track team proved to have more heart than expected. The team had an exemplary day at the Knox Invitational on Saturday, February 16. The track team had several extremely successful performances across the board, and was able to finish strong before conference, with the women coming in third, and the men pulling off a sixth place finish. Improvements across the board placed many athletes in excellent position heading toward the big dance.
“The team really took advantage of being at home,” said coach Irwin. “The familiar surroundings and the fact that they knew the course so well really played a factor.”
Several on the team had extremely good days, including senior Pam Bell, who came in first in the high jump with a leap of 4’11’’, with junior Jaclyn Anderson finishing second, at 4’7’’. The men’s 4×400 relay team was able to drop four seconds off their time, finishing at 3:40.45 seconds, good enough for fifth in the event. This time earned them a seeding at conference. The addition to the team of freshman Brett Daley turned out to be the X-factor the team needed, running mate junior Mike Dooley pointed out.
“Daley made a big difference,” he said. “ He’s the punter on the football team, so he’s real flexible, which helps a lot for getting speed.”
“It was a great performance for them,” said Coach Zierfuss. “They really improved more than anybody really expected.”
As a final tune-up before conference, both coaches agreed it could not have gone better.
“It was important for us to have a good team weekend, and we came through real nicely,” said Irwin. “We had the right mindset going into it, and we got what we needed.”
The best performances of the day were probably done on the weight throw and 800 meter race. Adam Kent, sophomore weight thrower, and Tim Rairdon, senior runner, broke school records. Kent’s throw of 50 feet, 5.5 inches shattered the old record of 49 feet, 10 inches set by Steven Robertson in 1999. Rairdon was able to beat the old record set by Erik DeLapp by less than half a second with a time of 1:59.36. The old record was 1:39.66. Kent’s throw netted him fourth in the event, while Rairdon’s grabbed second.
“It helped that we were at home,” said Kent. “I know the circle better, I am more comfortable there, and I know how the spin has to be laid down.”
Despite his accomplishment, Kent really did not think he had done it.
“On the throw before, coach said that he wanted better than what I had done, and I said, okay. ”
“Honestly, when I let it go that second time, I thought it was a terrible throw. When I heard what I did though, was speechless. Just a big grin on my face,” said Kent.
Though he was elated by his performance this weekend, his thoughts were toward the future.
“More than anything, I want to have success at conference, and make a real impact there. Besides, I have two more years to improve on what I did, so it’s really kind of back burner now,” said Kent.
Kent is also closing on the shot put school record, and figures he could probably break it this year during outdoor track.
Though Rairdon was unavailable for comment, both his teammates and coaches praised his accomplishment.
“Tim ran a really good race, and put himself in great standing for conference,” said Coach Irwin.
One teammate said it was a great day to just watch him run. Both athletes are looking forward to conference, but with a weekend off, their first since January, it is present, though not looming large in their minds.
“It’ll be nice to have a break, heal up, and come back strong for the championships,” said Coach Irwin. “They earned it, this weekend.”