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MONMOUTH, IL (01/14/2020) A new season and a change in the landscape won’t mean a change in plans for the Monmouth College track and field team, which is aiming for its 21st straight Midwest Conference indoor men’s title in 2020.
The Scots – whose men have won 24 of the last 25 Midwest Conference
indoor championships and 18 of the last 19 outdoor titles – have stuck
to their routine heading into the indoor season. Half the league’s teams
took advantage of an early December start
to the indoor season, but the Scots opted to stay with their proven
“We’ll continue to follow our formula,” said coach Roger Haynes, now
in his 37th season. “With the amount of dual-sport athletes we have from
the fall, we really didn’t feel we were 100 percent ready to do a
December meet. There are highs and lows in each
season and I’m not sure we needed to get an early start. We need to
focus on what we always have, and that’s the end-of-the-season
The Scots did add to their roster, gaining more than 20 newcomers on
the men’s and women’s teams. Merging the newcomers with a solid
returning corps which includes a dozen conference champions could put
Monmouth in position for another team title.
“Every team is different, but we do return a fair amount on both
sides,” reported Haynes. “We feel like we should be competitive in the
league. What the December start did was show that some other teams have
kids who will compete at the conference level.
We did fill some holes on both sides and we’re counting on that to make
us an improved team this year.”
Monmouth’s men will start with a good base in the sprints, where
senior Stone Darrow (Lowpoint, Ill./Lowpoint-Washburn) won three league
crowns last season – the indoor 60-meter dash and the outdoor 100 and
“Our sprint guys represented us well at the conference relays last
year,” said Haynes. “We have high expectations for Stone as a senior,
but we have some younger guys who are starting to emerge as well.”
Returning sophomore Alexander Brock (Lexington, Ill./Lexington) and
juniors Alex Cutright (Glenwood Springs, Colo./Glenwood Springs) and
Zach Vancil (Little York, Ill./West Central) are expected to join Darrow
as main contributors in the sprints.
“They’re a year older and that’s a plus,” said Haynes of the trio.
“They were good a year ago and we expect even more this year. They’ve
put in a ton of work and we expect to see that pay dividends in the
relays as well as the individual races.”
A strong cross country season last fall has the Scots optimistic for
the distance events. Haynes is hoping that the fall success of senior
Tanner Heiple (Pekin, Ill./Pekin), junior Griff Morrill (Sugar Grove,
Ill./West Aurora) and sophomore Riley Dulin (Monmouth,
Ill./Monmouth-Roseville), who all earned all-league cross country
honors, will translate to success on the oval.
“Tanner, Griff and Riley should be solid for us based on their
success last fall,” said Haynes. “I’m a little concerned about the
middle-distance events, but we have plugged some gaps, so we’ll have to
wait and see.”
Junior Darius Williams (Bay City, Texas/Van Vleck) returns in the
sand jumps, where he won the outdoor long jump title after
then-sophomore Seth Andersen (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg) took the indoor
crown and added the triple jump title for good measure.
Senior Chandler Claude’ (Evergreen Park, Ill./Brother Rice) and juniors
Austin Pfau (Leland, Ill./Somonauk) and Clayton Schulenberg (Orion,
Ill./Orion) add depth in the triple jump. Sophomore twins Jonathan
Oradiegwu (Richmond, Texas/Stephen F. Austin) and
Joseph Oradiegwu will return to the jumps following the conclusion of
their basketball season.
The men also return senior Joe Krall (New Berlin, Ill./New Berlin),
who earned his first track All-American honor a year ago and won the
league indoor shot put title and the outdoor hammer throw. He’s joined
by junior Drew Thaxton (Decatur, Ill./Eisenhower),
the outdoor shot champion. Sophomore Chris Kimble (Naples, Fla./St.
John Neumann) is also among the deep stable of throwers.
“Joe, Drew and Chris were all scorers from a year ago and that’s
always good,” said Haynes. “We should be improved in the throws.”
Monmouth’s women, like the men, have a solid group in all the
disciplines. They’ll be aiming to reclaim a league team title after a
string of runner-up finishes. The women last won the crown in 2014, but
look to return to the top with plenty of depth.
Seniors Aleeka Gentzler (Paxton, Ill./Paxton-Buckley-Loda) and
Vanessa Caldwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) headline the women’s
returners after Gentzler took the MWC indoor high jump crown in 2019 and
Caldwell earned the outdoor 100 hurdle title. The squad
also touts sophomore speedster Jordan Peckham (Farmington,
Ill./Farmington) and four all-league cross country runners, which
includes sophomores Arika Hofmann (Monmouth, Ill./Monmouth-Roseville)
and Mik Moore (Washington, Ill./Deer Creek-Mackinaw), to give
the Scots legitimate contenders in all distances.
“We always want to have good depth coming up through the ranks,”
explained Haynes. “The cross country women had a good season and we feel
good about the long and short sprints. We have a top-line performer in
every event. We’d like to add two or three more
in the events for scoring. We certainly expect good things from the
sophomore group. I feel like we have some freshmen who can fill some
gaps, and the throws group is solid, too, with our returners and some
Juniors Leigha Sebben (Rock Island, Ill./Rock Island) and Hannah
McVey (Monmouth, Ill./Monmouth-Roseville) and sophomore Kareema Lawal
(Aurora, Ill./Oswego East) form the foundation in the throws.
“Hannah and Leigha have certainly set a good standard in the weight
room,” praised Haynes. “Kareema has made good improvement with a very
good fall. We’ve also got two or three freshmen we feel will step up.
That should be a talented and deep group who will
be competitive. If we’re deep enough, we might be able to have them
throw one less event each and that could be a good thing to keep them
fresh as the season goes on.”
Haynes also expects good things in the jumps, where Gentzler leads
the high jump pack. Sophomore sand jumper Cindy Ladner (Galesburg,
Ill./Galesburg) and junior pole vaulter Katy Hayes (Romeoville,
Ill./Plainfield East) are the top returners in their specialties.
“We’ve got proven scorers in the jumps, but we’ll need some young
ones to step up,” predicted Haynes. “I feel that we’ve got a solid high
jump group. We should be stronger with another freshman in the pole
vault. We’re still looking for that extra link in
the sand jumps.”
With nearly all the pieces in place, the Scots will get a first-hand
look this weekend when they host the seven-team Midwest Invitational –
their first meet of the season. The opening meet could give Haynes a
vision of what the future holds.
“It’s hard to tell exactly what the conference meet will look like,”
said Haynes. “St. Norbert graduated a strong class, and the rest of the
league has made improvements. Every season is different and you never
know exactly where everything will fit. We
expect to be in the mix and that’s where we want to be.”
View Online: http://monmouthcollege.meritpages.com/news/New-Season-Same-Message-for-Track-and-Field-Scots/13403
For more information contact: Dan Nolan 309-457-2322, email@example.com