by Harrison LaLone, Sports Information Student Assistant
Alma, Mich. - The Alma College track and field team showed promise for the future in 2018 despite the women's team finishing sixth and the men seventh in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association this season. Of the 14 Scots to score at the MIAA Outdoor Championships, ten were either a freshman or sophomore.
The presence of junior Erin Goggins (Hastings, Mich./Hastings) was felt over at pole vault all season in 2018. Goggins set a new school-record in the event at 3.42 meters, finished as the MIAA runner-up in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, and won the event at three other meets. Goggins was named the MIAA Field Athlete of the Week three times as a pole vaulter between the indoor and outdoor seasons.
Sophomores Payton Hirschenberger (Freeland, Mich./Saginaw Nouvel) and John Mitrzyk (Standish, Mich./Standish-Sterling) led the way on the men's team. The two combined for seven points in the long jump in the outdoor championships and five MIAA Athlete of the Week awards. Mitrzyk won two long jump competitions and claimed ten more top-four finishes between the long jump and the sprints. Hirschenberger won the triple jump at three meets, finished in the top three in four more.
Senior Chelse Van Spronsen (Jenison, Mich./Jenison) and sophomore Blaire Showers led the distance and mid-distance runners, both being named MIAA Track Athlete of the Week once during the season. Van Spronsen competed in distance events at 11 meets, and recorded top-six performances in nine of them, including three victories in the 3000-meter run, and one more in the one mile run at the Aquinas College Little Meet. Showers scored two top-eight performances at the outdoor championships, claimed victory once in each of the 800 and 1500-meter events, and finished third or better in nine more events.
Grace Hearth (Freeland, Mich./Valley Lutheran) and Timothy Minier (Battle Creek, Mich./St. Philip Catholic Central) led the charge for the freshmen in 2018. Hearth scored points at the outdoor conference championships in the long jump and 100-meter dash and was once named MIAA Athlete of the Week for her prowess on the track, while Minier placed in the top five ten different times between the 100 and 200-meter events.
Even though Alma was led by its youth, the throwers saw leadership from seniors Karen Flesh (Aurora, Ill./Metea Valley) and James Taylor (Mason, Mich./Mason). Flesh claimed two podium performances at the outdoor championships and one more in the indoor, won the shot put at the Aquinas College Little Meet, and posted four more runner-up performances over the season. Taylor finished second in shot put in the dual with Davenport University at the Jack Skoog Invitational and added four more top-five performances through the year.
With the conclusion of the winter-sports season at Alma came the addition of two of the point-scorers in the outdoor conference championships. Freshmen Charley Hengesbach (Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel Catholic Central) and Stephanie Davis (Elmira, Mich./Gaylord) missed the indoor portion of the schedule as they competed for the Alma College women's basketball and swimming and diving teams respectively. Hengesbach led the Scots in points scored at the outdoor championships between top-five performances in both shot put and discus and Davis posted four top-five performances as a hurdler.
Alma graduates seven seniors - Van Spronsen, Flesh, Taylor, Zane Berlanga (Canton, Mich./Plymouth), Jackson Conner (Hopkins, Mich./Hopkins), Shannon Kievit (Lewiston, Mich./Johannesburg-Lewiston), and Jeffrey Schlicker (Standish, Mich./Standish-Sterling).