Track & Field Seniors: With the Program Since Day 1
MVNU Track and Field, in its fourth season, has “come a long way.”
Coach Chip Wilson said the team has progressed despite the hardships that come with being a new program at a small school.
“Our athletes know what they are getting into. We have to be creative with facilities, flexible with schedules, but this program has grown and come a long way. I couldn’t be happier with where we are at,” Wilson said.
Wilson has high expectations and goals, no matter how big the program is. Team members have embraced those goals, he said, and the upperclassmen have grown to be leaders even through adversity.
Wilson said the seniors are special to this program because they have shaped MVNU Track and Field into what it is today.
“We have some fantastic upperclassmen who lead and help to keep unity,” he said.
“A lot of them have been with us since day one. We will miss their leadership and positive encouragement.”
Seniors from the team reflected on the growth of the program and said the trials and victories of their sport have been well worth it.
Mid-distance and mile runner Nick Sharpes said it’s been rewarding to watch the team grow in work ethic, cohesiveness, character and drive.
“Great seasons never come from doing the bare minimum at practice every day,” Sharpes said.
Sharpes said favorite memories include long overnight bus rides, spring break meets, hanging out on campus with the team, and late nights on the track cheering for teammates.
“It’s important to enjoy every moment with everyone you get a chance to compete with. In the end, your times and marks you hit don’t follow you out of college. The people you meet will,” Sharpes said. “It’s been amazing to watch complete strangers become inseparable friends through the track program.”
Stew German has been a part of the program all four years at MVNU, competing in the long jump, triple jump, 4x100 meter relay, and 100 meters.
As the track and field program has grown, German has learned to be flexible with time and creative with workout equipment during training.
“When things get rough and school and track start to become overwhelming, just keep pushing on and fight through the adversity,” German said.
Darian Pacula highlighted the program’s development during his 4 years as a long distance runner.
Pacula said the team has much more depth now, but the same unity as when it started.
“Our team continues to grow, but we still are able to have fun and not be serious all the time,” Pacula said.
Sam Nordquist was a part of the track team for four years, doing long and high jump.
Nordquist qualified this year for the indoor nationals in both long and high jump, which he had been striving for throughout his career. Then, Nordquist injured his hamstring a week before nationals, preventing him from competing.
“It was not easy but God gave me peace through the situation,” Nordquist said.
Despite his hardships, the people have kept Nordquist going.
“We are just a bunch of weirdos who love to run in circles, fling their bodies into sand and mats and throw heavy objects as far as they can. We have a lot of fun and love to see each other thrive at each event,” Nordquist said.
Alexis Kandel, who transferred to MVNU her junior year, ran the 1500, 800 and 400 this spring. During her 2016-17 season, Kandel worked through injuries preventing her from competing.
“It has taught me that sometimes it is worth it to push through trials, even when it hurts. The things that you can gain make it worth it,” Kandel said.
“I think it gives you the ability to figure out just how mentally strong you really are and how much you can push yourself, even when you maybe do not want to anymore,” Kandel said.
Rebekah Mullins, a 5k runner, has been a part of the track and field team for four years. Mullins said that the development of the women’s team has been incredible.
“We only had four distance runners and one thrower our first year, and now we have members of our team in the majority of the events. For a program to grow that much in such short time is absolutely remarkable, and I’m so thankful to have been a part of that,” Mullins said.
John Wells, who ran the 400 and the 800, was a part of the MVNU Track and Field team all four years of his collegiate career.
Wells said that track and field has taught him to give his all in whatever he does, even outside of his sport.
“The most difficult thing has been balancing my schedule. I have had to learn how to balance my school work and making sure that it is a top priority while still doing well in my sport,” Wells said.
Joe Schmitz, former basketball player for MVNU, is running the mile, 800 and the 400 for the Cougars this year. Schmitz said anyone is welcome on the track.
“When it gets to the point when you’re not doing anything in the spring, do track. It’s a great experience. They’ll welcome you with open arms,” Schmitz said.
Making A Run For Nationals
MVNU Men's Track and Field will send five members to the national stage for the NAIA
Outdoor National Championships from May 24-26 at Gulf Shores, Alabama. Qualifiers include senior Darian Pacula (marathon) and juniors Mictchell Soviak (shot put), Joey McDonald (shot put and discus), Carl Jones Jr. (200 meter dash) and Brennan Crawford (marathon).