By JACOB WOERTHER
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Five seniors earned first team All-American honors at the 2017 NCAA Indoor Championship, with many setting personal bests along the way.
Kailey Fuchs, Katie Cassidy, Jacob Mahin, Brittney Kalenberger and Devin Cornelius each earned the distinction in their respective events March 10-11 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Track and Field head coach Kip Janvrin said he told his team to simply stay consistent with their regular season performances.
“We talked ahead of the meet and said, ‘If you do the same things you’ve done all season, you’re going to have success,’” Janvrin said.
Senior sprinter Fuchs was not merely consistent with her regular season performance, but instead set her best time of the season. Fuchs ran a personal best 2:07:55 in the 800m to secure third place and earn her first All-American award. She is just the 11th Jennie to earn such honors in the 800m and the first since 2002 to do so.
Like Fuchs, Cornelius also earned his first All-American award via his best performance of the season. This year’s NCAA Indoor Championship marked Cornelius’s first and only eligible season with the Mules and the senior multi-event athlete made the most of the opportunity. Cornelius placed sixth in the pentathlon, scoring a personal best 5263.
Cassidy recorded her third All-American award following her third-place performance in the pentathlon. She scored a personal best 3903, the third best score ever recorded by a Jennie. Cassidy was also the only UCM athlete to compete in multiple individual events. She placed 14th in the high jump with a jump of 5-5.75.
Senior thrower Mahin set a new personal best as well, launching the shot 59-5.75. The throw was enough to not only earn Mahin fourth place in the event and All-American status, but also set a new school record.
Brittney Kalenberger cleared 12-10.75 in the high jump to earn her fourth All-American award and place sixth in the high jump.
Seniors Kaylee VanBlacrum, Ben Hanson and Cole Phillips also competed at the championship. VanBlacrum, in her first-ever NCAA Indoor Championship, tied for 14th in pole vault. Hanson finished 13th in weight throw and Phillips recorded a no-height in pole vault.
Javrin said he was proud of the seniors’ effort in their final indoor meet and the dedication that they’ve displayed throughout their careers.
“(The seniors) have been leaders,” Janvrin said. “They all started off as clueless freshman who didn’t know what they’re doing…(but now) they’re the people that the younger people look (up to) and they are leaders for us. They will be sorely missed in the future.”
Although future indoor meets will not include these All-American athletes, Coach Janvrin has younger athletes that are ready to fill the role.
Sophomore Emily Thole and freshman Laia Gonzalez joined Cassidy and Fuchs on the 4×400 team. The team placed 10th and earned second-team All-American.
Janvrin said Thole and Gonzalez will likely lead the team next season.
“Those two girls are training exactly like the girls who are All-Americans and they kind of have had to buy into that process at an early age,” Janvrin said. “Emily is going to be counted on heavily next year to be the team leader, and whether she likes it or not she is going to have to be that for the spring crew.”
Although the indoor season has come to an end, the seniors’ careers are still far from over. The track and field team will begin the outdoor season on March 25 and once again chase after dominance on a national level.
“We aspire to be a top-10 team in the national meet,” Janvrin said. “We’ve got to get better and we’ve got to continue to strive to be the best that we can be.”