- Men's Sports
- Women's Sports
- Inside Athletics
WICHITA, Kan. - The Friends University track and field teams capped off their regular season by winning both the Men's and Women's Indoor KCAC Team Championships in early February. Moving forward a month, a select group of qualifiers will now have the chance to travel to Johnson City, Tenn., to compete in the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championship Meet held at Eastern Tennessee State University. The Falcons will be traveling 23 athletes (12 men, 11 women) to the meet that will take place March 3rd through the 5th. This season's 23 qualifiers more than doubles the previous best held by the program from last season (11).
MEN'S QUALIFIERS (Men are ranked #12 in the NAIA)
Brady Johnson (FR/Bluffton, Ind.) – Johnson will be competing in his first national championship meet in the 60M Dash. His personal best of 6.92 this season hit the NAIA 'B' Qualifying mark and ranks him #26 heading into the meet and #3 in Friends University history. Johnson had the #2 time in the KCAC this season and he is the 6th fastest freshman in the NAIA.
Juante Baldwin (JR/Kansas City, Mo.) – Baldwin is a double qualifier in both of the short sprints this indoor season with an 'A' qualifier in the 60M and a 'B' qualifier in the 200m. Baldwin was the KCAC Champion in both races this indoor season and is ranked 3rd in the NAIA in the 60M with a personal best of 6.71, and 17th in the 200M with a personal best of 21.93. Both of those times are #1 in Friends University history.
Trey Bellows (FR/Glasco, Kan.) – Bellows, a high school state champion with a best of 6'8" in the High Jump, qualified for the national meet in his first season at Friends with an indoor personal best clearance of 6'7". His mark of 2.01m at the KCAC Indoor Championships bested the school record by 0.25". He is ranked 21st in the NAIA entering next week's competition. Bellows was also just recently named the NAIA's South Central Region Men's Field Athlete of the year.
Isaac Clark (JR/Pleasantville, N.J.) – Clark, a junior transfer from South Plains Junior College qualified for the indoor national meet this season in five different events (400, 600, 800, 4x800, DMR), but will only be competing in two to maximize his potential for multiple All-American finishes. I. Clark was an individual KCAC Champion in the 400m and 800m this season and will be running the 800m at the NAIA Championships. He is ranked 8th entering the meet with a time of 1:54.44. He will also be running as a member of the men's 4x800 team that is ranked 4th entering the championships.
Jacob Clark (JR/Pleasantville, N.J.) – Clark is the twin brother of Isaac and has also qualified for this year's Indoor Championships in five different events (600, 800, 1000, 4x800, DMR). He will be running only two at the National Championships as he attempts a shot at multiple National Titles. Jacob has the #1 time in the country in the 1000M with a season best of 2:27.76 and he will be joining his brother as a member of the men's 4x800m Relay that is ranked 4th. To top off an incredible first season with the Falcons, J. Clark was recently named the NAIA's South Central Region Male Track Athlete of the year.
4x800m Relay – Last season, the Falcon men's 4x800 finished the year with a school record and a 7th place finish at the National Meet which gave All-American honors to four athletes (Brock Nooney, Max Burley (JR/Ponca City, Okla.), Kris Mathur (SR/Wichita, Kan.), and Jesse Lyle (SR/Wichita, Kan.)). This season's relay is ranked 4th entering the National Meet with a season best of 7:47.84 (KCAC Champions). Burley and Lyle return as relay members with the addition of standout Clark twins. This relay has the potential to re-break last seasons school record and compete for a National Title. Mathur will be the relay's alternate runner heading into the meet.
DMR Relay – The men's DMR Relay enters the National Meet with an 'A' Qualifying time of 10:20.18 and is seeded 11th. Damien Hiser (SO/Wichita, Kan.), Brett Martin (FR/Wichita, Kan.), and Peyton Randolph (JR/Garden Plain, Kan.) will have the opportunity to compete in their first National Championships along with Mathur in his 2nd straight indoor appearance. Trevor Biedron (SR/Wichita, Kan.) will be attending the meet as the relay's alternate runner.
WOMEN'S QUALIFIERS (Women are #15 in the NAIA)
Chelsea Baker (SO/Pittsburg, Kan.) – No stranger to the National Meet in only her sophomore season, Chelsea Baker is again a multiple event qualifier in the jumps. As a freshman, Baker hit six national standards between indoor and outdoor finishing the year as the NAIA Runner-Up in the Outdoor High Jump. Baker will be competing in the Long Jump where she is ranked 7th (18'3.25"), and the High Jump were she is ranked in a tie for 13th place (5'5.75").
Natali Engle (SO/Goddard, Kan.) – Engle was a four-time KCAC Champion this indoor season by setting personal bests in the 60m, 200m, and 400m. After not hitting any as a freshman last season, she blew up the KCAC this season on her way to four National Standards, three of which bested the NAIA 'A' qualifying mark. Engle will be dropping the 60m at nationals to focus her chances on the 200m, 400m, and 4x400 Relay. Engle is ranked 5th in the 400m (56.89), 7th in the 200m (24.80), and is a member of the 4x400 Relay that enters the meet ranked 12th as a team.
Kaitlyn Keck (SR/Haysville, Kan.) – Keck has been a well-known name throughout the KCAC and NAIA as she now enters her 4th NAIA National Meet. After multiple 9th and 10th place finishes the past two season, Keck is looking for her first All-American finish (top eight). She will have multiple opportunities to chase that goal as she will be competing in four different events at the National Championships. Keck's highest ranking comes in the pentathlon where she is ranked 5th in the country (3352 points). Keck is also ranked 10th in the Triple Jump (37'6"), 16th in the 60 Hurdles (9.09), and she is a member of the 12th ranked 4x400m Relay team (3:59.13). This past week Keck added another accolade to her already decorated name as she was announced as the NAIA's South Central Region Female Field Athlete of the year.
4x400M Relay – The Women's 4x400 Relay team had a breakout season, setting a personal best every time they stepped on the track until the KCAC Championships. They started the year with a time of 4:07 which was a new school record, and continued to re-break that record every meet until they hit the 'A' qualifying mark and ran sub-four minutes for the first time in school history at the Pittsburg State Invitational (3:59.13). The relay team consists of Angelia Murray (FR/Wichita, Kan.), Shelby Hundley (FR/Bern, Kan.), Engle, and Keck. The relay set a school record this season and were the KCAC Champions. Abby Simon (JR/Andale, Kan.) will be traveling as the team's alternate runner.
4x800M Relay – The Women's 4x800 relay team won this year's KCAC Indoor Championships with a 'B' Qualifying mark of 9:44.35 behind tremendous legs from two freshman athletes. This season's relay consists of Taylor Morrow (FR/Olathe, Kan.), Christa Follette (FR/Grinnell, Iowa), Bethany Vonada (SO/Shawnee, Kan.), and Brooke Zimmerman (JR/Goddard, Kan.). Zimmerman, Follette, and Morrow were all 10 top finishers at the KCAC Cross Country Championships this fall and helped lead the Falcons to a Team Championship and National Championship berth. Ellie Newlin (SR/Wichita, Kan.) will be traveling as the team's alternate runner.
The Falcon men have never placed higher than 50th as a team at the National Meet and have high hopes of blowing the doors off of that record. They have four marks that are ranked in the top 8 in the NAIA (scoring positions) and hope to bring in enough points to fight for a top 10 finish at the Indoor Championships. Last season's two points by the men's program were the most in school history scored at the Indoor National Championships.
The women's program has finished as high as 16th place at the National Meet behind a 2nd and 3rd place finish from two distance runners in the 2012 Indoor NAIA National Championships. (Jordan Arnold & Cecilia Burley). The ladies also enter the meet with four marks ranked top eight in the country and have set high goals of achieving multiple All-American awards by the end of next week's competition.
Follow the University Twitter account @friendsathletic during the meet for live updates. The meet will also be live-streamed on www.naia.org.