February 16, 2016
Mississippi College’s move to Division II has proved to be positive for the Track and Field program as it has allowed the Choctaws to bring in outstanding athletes. Just in the first year as a DII school, the Track and Field program has seen great improvement.
In 2013 when MC was still a DIII school, the team had one person qualify for indoor nationals and three for outdoor. Head Coach Butch Ard is thrilled to see that the DII athletes have added to the team’s performance as a whole. “Last year, we had 13 qualify for indoor, and 13 for outdoor,” Ard said. “After only three meets, we already have 24 qualified for indoor nationals. They’re clearly getting a lot better.”
The freshman members of the Track and Field team have been a major asset to the success of the program. “We had a good team last year, but we had a really good group of incoming freshmen this year who have really helped shape this team,” Ard said. Members including Kaleigh Akers, Micah Bagley, Frederick Ernst, Alex Gipson, Andrea McDonald, Madison Sawaya, and Will Young have helped lead the way for the Choctaws. “These guys are young, and they’re having to learn how to run in college,” Ard said. “They were really talented in high school, and now everyone is talented at the collegiate level. The freshmen are definitely getting better at every meet.”
Other leaders on the women’s team include Alex Buchanan, Anna Grace Govero, and Kiana Grant. The men’s team has seen high rankings in meets so far from Daniel Burnett, Darius Green, and Shawn Robertson. “I’ve just really seen so much standout talent from the members of this years team,” Ard said.
The effort put in by the members participating in sprints and jumps has really paid off. “Our sprinters and jumpers are really good right now,” Ard said. According to him, the distance teams need the most improvement. “We’re good on our distances, but we’re not good enough to compete against others on a national level.” he said.
The Lady Choctaws finished sixth in the Emory Indoor Invitational, and third in the Rose-Hulman Engineer Invitational. The Choctaws finished fourteenth in the Emory Indoor Invitational, and fourth in the Rose-Hulman Engineer Invitational. “Without a doubt, the Engineer Invitational was our best meet in over fourteen years,” Ard said. “Everyone really did their part.” MC will compete in nine more meets during the rest of the season. Three of the meets will be held at the James E. Parkman Track on MC’s campus, including the Gulf South Conference Championships.
Although the National Christian College Athletic Association Championship is not until after school is out for the summer, the members of the track and field team are striving to meet the performance standard to qualify championships. “We’ve already got 24 people going with us, but we have to keep working hard,” Ard said. “If we’re going to drive 12 hours for indoor nationals at the end of the season, we want to be the best we can be. Overall, I’m just extremely proud of the team. We’re definitely going in the direction we want to go.”
-Michaela Parker, Sports Editor
this article appeared in Vol. 97, Issue 8 of The Mississippi Collegian