Track & Field Preview: Men's Sprints/Jumps
Jan. 9, 2014
MILWAUKEE - The Marquette men's sprints group has taken a significant hit over the last few years with the graduation of program record holders Tyler O'Brien and Kyle Winter, but head coach Bert Rogers believes it could be one of the areas with the brightest upside for the Golden Eagles.
"I feel like the men's sprints area could be our most improved area," Rogers said. "Last year we didn't have much depth and this year we add Brandon Bell, Carson Meinholz and Ryan Olsen and get Jordan Smith back from injuries. All of a sudden we've got some depth and with the way the BIG EAST is now set up, the sprints is an area where we need to grab some points.
"We are going to score points in the field, that is what we expect, and points are going to be scarce in the distance events as they always have been. The real difference for how we are going to place as a team is what our sprinters are able to do."
The loss of Winter, the 2012 BIG EAST Indoor 800-meter run champion and someone who competed in all eight conference meets over the course of his four years, will sting at the top but adding the newcomers to team captain Connor Stengel, Glenn Lawrence Jr., and Anton Rice will help ease the blow.
Stengel, who was selected as a team captain during the fall semester will attempt to climb the program record books in the 400-meter dash, where he ranks 10th all-time indoors and holds the No. 9 position outdoors.
"Connor is much more of a leader this year," Rogers said. "He is feeling healthy and if he can get through the season he has been putting down some great workouts. Connor, Glenn and Nick are normally battling it out at the end of workouts to finish strong and Connor is ready to take a big step forward this year."
The group of newcomers took a significant hit over winter break when freshman Nick Ebert sustained season-ending injuries in a snowmobile accident back in Minnesota. Ebert was consistently among MU's top finishers in workouts along with Stengel and Lawrence and Rogers believed he was a potential scorer for the Golden Eagles in the 400-500 meter range.
"That is a hard-working group," Rogers said of his newcomers. "The freshmen have an energy, a vigor and want to get better. All those guys get along great and it is a fun group to coach. Carson is going to be a solid 200-400 guy and in the mix for the 4x400-meter relay. Ryan Olson ran the mid-48 second mark in high school, but was a little beat up as part of his Army ROTC training in the fall. We are just trying to get him back into track shape."
Lawrence Jr., returns for his junior campaign in possession of indoor top-10 marks in the 60- and 200-meter dashes and has been a key component to MU's relays since his arrival on campus in 2011. He notched a new personal best of 7.13 seconds in the 60 at Notre Dame's Blue and Gold Invitational on Dec. 7 to kick off the indoor season and is a possible point scorer among MU's shorter sprinters.
In the longer sprints, sophomore Anton Rice acclimated himself well in his first season at MU while training in a group with Winter and could be poised for a breakout. Rice placed second in the 800 at Notre Dame to begin the year and is already in MU's top 10 in the 500 meters indoors.
"Anton could be the most improved on the roster and it was great for him to get to train with Kyle Winter last year," Rogers said. "We did a time trial with Anton in October and he ran 1:20.6 in the 600 on the outdoor track; four seconds faster than last year. He ran 1:55 in the 800 at Notre Dame and it was just a very easy race for him. I am excited for him and you can tell he is going to put up some fast times this year and the 800 is going to be pretty deep in conference."
Marcell KirkmanBey and freshman Joel Swanberg will pace the Golden Eagles in the hurdles, where KirkmanBey holds marks on MU's top 10 in the 60-meter indoors and the 110-meter event outdoors. Swanberg also enters Marquette with the unique combination of experience in the hurdles and pole vault, thus profiling as a candidate for a multi-event competitor.
"Joel comes in being a vaulter and a hurdler so that makes a little easier transition for the multis," Rogers said. "Depending on how the meet calendar falls for the multis we will figure out what he is going to do. Joel is going to be one of the top vaulters so we are going to have to figure out how for him to do the vault and the mutlis at the BIG EAST meets."
Swanberg will be joined in the vault by sophomores John Kaplan and Vinny Martello. The trio is already off to a fast start in 2013-14 with each of the three setting new personal bests in the opening indoor meet at Notre Dame.
Kaplan's winning mark of 15 feet, 7 inches (4.75 meters) at ND is just three-quarters of an inch from assistant coach Zach Pawlowski's indoor program record, while Martello and Swanberg tied for fourth at the December meet and are knotted for the No. 10 indoor mark at MU (14-1.25).
Kaplan sits six inches from Nick VanDeraa's top mark outdoors (15-9) and Rogers believes that Marquette record and the 16-foot barrier could be in the cards for Kaplan this year.
"What a difference for John from last year to this year," Rogers said. "As a freshman he was talented but didn't really know how to jump and this year he has come in and will jump really big. He, Vinny and Joel are three guys who should place high in the conference and I think John could get into the 16-feet marks."
Senior team captain Michael Saindon leads the men's high jumpers, a group which will have to sustain the loss of Cheldon Brown in 2013-14. Saindon has scored in the high jump at five of the six BIG EAST Championship meets in which he has competed and sits fourth on MU's indoor and outdoor top-10 lists.
The Wausau, Wis., native has finished as high as fourth in both the indoor and outdoor conference meets and a spot on the podium come championships season is definitely the goal for the senior.
"The high jump is a quality area for us," Rogers said. "Michael Saindon has already picked up where he left off and is someone you can always depend on. He is very meticulous in his preparation and knows exactly what he needs to do."
"Oumaru had a little accident about a month ago and had to sit out the first meet. He is just a real explosive guy so once we figure out some technique issues he is going to get it. He has a great attitude and is one of those guys who was only on campus one day and everyone likes him - a really great personality to have on the team."
Abdulahi was the Illinois Class A runner-up in the high jump as a senior (6 feet, 10 inches) and won the state title as a sophomore. The freshman can also make contributions for Marquette in the horizontal jumps, just as Kilpin competed in the triple jump as a freshman.
Freshman Dwayne Dash Jr. is dealing with the lingering effects of a high school hamstring injury and will help the Golden Eagles in the long jump and relays once he is back to full strength.
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