The HCAC preseason indoor track and field coaches poll has been released. Led by two-time HCAC Field Athlete of the Year and one-time All-American Garrett Cooley, the men’s team is predicted to have a strong season.
Conference power Rose-Hulman was the unanimous favorite to win the conference, receiving all 10 first-place votes for a total of 100 points. The Ravens were picked to finish second, receiving 83 points, eight more than third-place Hanover.
Cooley is ambitious entering the season, hoping to build off of his last two seasons. “My goal is to be a national champion,” he said. He added that on top of that, he’d also like to be the HCAC Field Athlete of the Year for the third time, and be an All-American and All-Conference in the 60-meter dash.
The women’s team is predicted to finish seventh in the conference. They received 45 points, four behind Franklin for sixth-place. Rose-Hulman’s women’s team is also favored, receiving six of 10 first-place votes and 96 points.
Five men were named HCAC Athletes to watch. Calen Bruner (distance), Sebastian Baxter (throws), Cooley (sprints/jumps), Malik Davis (sprints) and Ian Leatherman (distance) received the honors. All five are seniors.
Five women also made the Athletes to Watch list. Senior sisters Ashley and Courtney King both received recognition. Ashley runs distance while Courtney handles sprints. Tess Wise and Sarah Repp, two junior distance runners also made the list. Mariah Murray (jumps), a sophomore, was the lone Raven underclasswoman on the list.
While the Ravens face a tough task in attempting to dethrone Rose-Hulman, they do have an advantage of sorts. AU will attempt to do so inside the friendly confines of the Kardatzke Wellness Center. Anderson is the host for the HCAC Indoor Track and Field Championships, which take place on Feb. 17.
Cooley is excited for the season to get underway.
“I’m looking forward to doing better as a team at the conference meet,” he explained. “We’ll have more people on both sides receive All-Conference recognition.
“If we perform at the level we are capable, we’ll be able to cut into Rose-Hulman’s point totals.”
The indoor season officially begins Saturday as both teams will travel to West Lafayette to compete in the Fred Wilt Open.