The HCAC coaches poll was released for the upcoming track and field season, and expectations are high for the men’s and women’s teams. The men’s team was predicted to finish second in the conference and the women’s team finished fourth in the preseason poll.
While the roster is talented, first-year coach Sol Stephens emphasized that he is relying on each athlete. “Athlete number one down to number 40, boy or girl, everyone has the expectations to be a part of the program to the best of their ability.”
Rose Hulman received all of the first place votes for the men’s team while Manchester was predicted to win conference on the women’s side.
Derek Mallory, Garrett Cooley, Jake Gehman, Sebastian Baxter, Jona Odell, Ashley King, Courtney King, Sierra Ratzlaff, Sarah Repp and Mariah Murray were named HCAC Athletes to Watch.
Rose-Hulman dominated in last year’s meets, winning indoor by 200 points, picking up their sixth consecutive indoor championship in the process, and outdoor by 250 points.
Stephens hopes to trim the deficit in half for the upcoming season. “Those numbers are astronomical,” he said. “That point spread is so outlandish, that nipping those numbers in half will be considered a success.”
Baxter also touched on how AU will look to take down the Engineers and win the conference meets. “Rose-Hulman is a very big team that scores well in a lot of different events. We don’t have quite the numbers that they do, but we have great leadership in Derek Mallory and Jake Gehman among others,” he explained. “Pushing each other to make each person better is going to be key to success. We need everyone, from freshman to senior.”
The Ravens will only have two meets before their conference meet. The first will be held on Feb. 4 at 3 p.m. in the Kardatzke Wellness Center Fieldhouse. Coach Stephens’ expectation for the season is that each athlete will “run their best time or throw their best throw” at some point in the season, preferably during the conference meet.