HCAC MU rock
The MU rock, located outside ACEN, was painted to celebrate the track and field teams’ wins.
Photo by Manchester CCTF

Manchester Indoor Track, Field Teams Win HCAC Championship

Sam France

It was a record-breaking day on Feb. 19 in Defiance, Ohio, as the Manchester men and women Indoor Track and Field teams won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship Titles. The women won their second title, the first since 2016, with a total of 176.5 team points. The men defeated the 11-time indoor champion Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 158.5 to 154. It was an incredible day for each athlete and coach. “As a team, it was great seeing a bunch of records being broken and watching the team succeed,” said Head Coach Brian Cashdollar.

Cashdollar coaches both teams and was named the HCAC Coach of the Year. “Although it is nice to receive an award, the name of the award does not accurately represent why it is awarded. The award is a direct reflection of the athletes’ and assistant coaches’ work and dedication to our singular goal,” he said.

Junior Enrique Salazar made long distance history winning four individual titles and was named HCAC Men’s Distance Athlete of the Year. But to him, the team victory outweighed it all. “My quadruple event champion didn’t matter to me as an individual; I did it for the team,” Salazar said. “Because to me, it is way more valuable to make history as a team than an individual.” He had a top finish in the mile and added his third title after winning the 800m.

Salazar led a Manchester sweep in the 5000m, holding a pace around the track. Richardson came in a close second and Havens placed third. With yet another sweep in the 300m, Salazar was followed by Havens in second and Richardson in third.

Senior Erica Mohr was named the HCAC’s Women’s Throws Athlete of the Year. Mohr won a title in the weight throw after beating the competition. “Being the throws athlete of the year was totally unexpected,” Mohr said, “Hearing everyone cheer and knowing how much my team has supported me, had me feeling over the moon.” She led a 1-2-3 sweep for the Spartans with Madison Haines and Dakota Goetz placing second and third. Throughout the entirety of the meet, teammates supported the throwers. “In my four years, I have never felt the energy more than I did in this conference meet,” Haines said.

The 4 x 200 relay team with Duriel Moss Jr., Gabe Melvin, Tristen Bronaugh and Quentin Willis came in second place moving them to 3rd in the top 10 Manchester all-time list. Bronaugh came in third place in his own 400m, which moves him to fourth all-time at Manchester. “It felt so good to see everyone’s hard work pay off, especially with not having an indoor facility to practice on,” Bronaugh said. Moss made it to 4th all-time at Manchester with a second-place finish in the 60m dash.

Despite setting a new Manchester record, Gabe Melvin finished second in the 60m dash. Melvin believes the job is not finished. “Setting a record is unbelievable; however, I will say I’m not satisfied because I want to set a conference record, and it would have been nice to place first overall,” he said.

Kendal Garringer placed second in high jump and Claire Butler came in third in the pole vault. Ben Villafuerte placed second in the shot put with Timothy Macomber right behind. “The environment while throwing was a feeling like nothing else and I’m ready to get back to work.” Macomber said.

For the women, Carley Camp placed third in shot put. With their total effort, they were able to bring the team to victory. “We all came out and did what we were asked to do and got it done” Camp said.

Fifth-year senior Elizabeth Lohman was selected as the HCAC Women’s Distance Athlete of the Year. “Winning the award was the cherry on top of an already amazing day,” Lohman said. She won an HCAC title in the mile run while Lauren Smith got third.

With an exciting environment throughout all their races, the women’s long-distance team was able to bring in the team points. “The team is close-knit in general, and it most definitely showed at conference as you could see everyone cheering and screaming for each other no matter what event they were in,” Smith said.

As runner-up in the 5000m Lohman was followed by Hannah Brubaker in third. Lohman also placed third in 800m and finished out the day with a second-place win. “The good thing about championships like this is it really brings the whole team closer and gives everyone an appreciation for the hard work other event groups put in,” Lohman said.

The women’s 4 x 400-meter relay team of Brook Bouwens, Jalea Faulkner, Adelle Stanko and Brandi Smith finished the record-breaking day in third. The women’s 4 x 200-meter relay team of Adelle Stanko, Brooke Bouwens, Hilary Ernstes and Brandi Smith came in third making them 3rd all-time in school history. Bouwens sprinted to a third-place finish on the 300m. “It was a great feeling to be part of something bigger than myself,” Bouwens said. “I felt like I helped make Manchester proud and I was proud my team made that happen.”

Stanko had herself a day after placing second in the long jump, 3rd in the triple jump and 3rd in the 200m dash. Despite it being a long day stacked with six events, Stanko was able to end up on the podium five times. “Not everyone shows up to run the best race of the day,” she said. “The fact that we did run our best races proves how bad we wanted it.”

Each event and athlete held their own weight in the team’s ability to walk away champions. “I felt like conference was almost magic for us,” said first year Nick Kelly. “We were told every point matters and by us winning by such a slim margin it made the one point I scored feel bigger than one point.”

The team spirit and motivation from those who were not actively competing set Manchester apart from the other teams. “The whole team came together not just in their events, but around the track and by the events to cheer for every single person,” said first year Braelen Twine said.

Thrower Joe Garling added: “Every throw, jump, and race pushed both the men and women to finish in the way that they did. It was a once in a lifetime experience.”

But the work is not done. “I wish we could say that we are going to enjoy this moment until next year, but our season continues into outdoors,” Coach Cashdollar said. “In two months, we need to be ready to compete for another two titles.” With two titles under their belt, the Manchester Track and Field team aims even higher.