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The Scarlet & Black

Kolacia and Miller dominate conference

Isaiah+Tyree+%E2%80%9915+raced+at+Conference+last+week.+%0APhoto+by+Jun+Taek+Lee
Isaiah Tyree ’15 raced at Conference last week. Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Isaiah Tyree ’15 raced at Conference last week.  Photo by Jun Taek Lee
Isaiah Tyree ’15 raced at Conference last week.
Photo by Jun Taek Lee

For the Pioneer men’s and women’s track and field teams, every practice, race, event and invitational meet so far was in preparation for the two days that they competed in the indoor Midwest Conference Championships which was held this past weekend in Grinnell.

The Pioneers proved that they had come to compete, with the men’s team placing fifth and the women placing sixth out of 10 teams. The teams ended the weekend with multiple trips to the podium and a number of new personal records.

“We were very pleased with the performance of our team,” said head women’s coach Evelyn Freeman. “We had a lot of seasonal bests, we had a lot of personal records, we had a number of new entries on our top 10 list, so we were actually surprised that we performed as well as we did … It’s a little bit hard to gauge because the indoor season is so short, but we focus on conditioning and fitness for the outdoor season and this was a good test to see how things were going.”

Two athletes that made the spotlight this past weekend were Grinnell’s very own Nate Kolacia ’16 and Eloise Miller ’15. These two Pioneers were respectively named MWC Men’s Outstanding Track Performer and MWC Women’s Outstanding Field Performer.

“It was a pretty big honor,” Kolacia said. “I wasn’t expecting to perform that well at that meet or earn that honor. It was something I had never earned before. I was really proud to be able to do that and really grateful.”

Kolacia was quick to give credit to his coaches, who acted as some of his biggest supporters in winning the gold for two distance events—the mile and the 3,000-meter run—in two separate days.

“All my coaches were taking the time to make it possible to work out every day early in the morning, taking stuff up, taking stuff down so it probably goes to them,” Kolacia said.

Miller’s accomplishment was just as great, if not more rewarding considering she injured her ankle last weekend at the Wartburg College Invitational.

“It was definitely nervous going into the meet because I injured my ankle the week before so I was definitely nervous about how the jumps would go,” Miller said. “And you just never know if your steps are going to be on or how the other people are jumping because that’s obviously always a factor. But I was really pleased with myself.”

With Miller sweeping titles in the triple jump and long jump and placing third in the 400-meter dash, she will compete on Saturday, March 7 in the Last Chance Meet in Stevens Point, Wisconsin for the chance to claim a National title.

“I hope to continue to PR and improve my marks for the jumps,” Miller said. “Obviously I’m going to the meet to hopefully qualify for Nationals but you just don’t know at this point.”

In addition to Miller and Kolacia, there were other Pioneers who also had outstanding performances last Saturday. Anthony McLean ’17 was close behind Kolacia in the 3000-meter run with a time of 8:59.66. The 4×400 relay team of Jonathan Braun ’17, Kyle Moorehead ’15, Harry Maher ’15 and Matthew McCarthy ’17 took eighth, finishing in 3:37.69.

For the women, Shannon Young ’17 placed fourth in the 800 while teammate Ellen Pinnette ’15 followed with tenth. Grinnell also had strong performances from the relay teams. Pinnette, Sarah Jensen ’15, Whitney Teagle ’18 and Eva Smith ’16 placed fourth in the distance medley relay while Jensen, Miller, Young and Becca Carpenter ’15 brought a sixth place win in the 4×400 relay.

Overall, the indoor Conference Championship was a huge success for the team and the past weekend was only an invitation for more successful performances in the long outdoor season ahead.

“We’re looking at the team and we’ve got a great, dedicated group of athletes,” Freeman said. “We have a lot of young athletes and a lot of new athletes. We’re a young and developing team. We’re excited about the commitment and dedication that they’ve shown thus far and we’re already looking ahead towards outdoor season and to focus our training towards more of the outdoor events.”

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