RICHMOND, Ind. – This weekend's Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships will represent a lot of things for the Earlham track and field programs.
It will be a measure of how much the program has matured under second-year co-head coaches Claire Hewitt and Rob Hewitt. It will measure whether the athletes on the ever-expanding Earlham track and field team have bought into the training and preparation plans put forth by their coaches. It will be a test of whether the Quakers, especially the women's team, can live up to loftier expectations created following the Indiana Division III meet earlier this month.
But in the Hewitts' eyes, the measure of success is much simpler, more focused.
Can the Quakers compete?
For every point?
The Hewitts believe both Quaker teams are ready to meet that challenge heading into the HCAC meet, which begins Friday and concludes Saturday at Rose-Hulman.
"So much of the challenge this time of year is who's healthy and focused? Who's going to the starting line emotionally, physically, and mentally ready to compete?" said Rob Hewitt. "The more people you have who check off those three boxes in that first event that they go to, the better your chances. So, we've talked to our kids all week about 'let's be emotionally, physically, and mentally prepared' – and so much of that meant having to mentally unpack from what happened at that Division III meet. Now we're building back toward that, hoping to hit that same peak that we did at that Indiana D-III championship meet."
The Earlham women's track and field team will have more depth, and could place multiple scorers in as many as seven events. The biggest competitive load will be borne by first years Chloe Lamenzo and Ana Sosa-Ebert, who will be entered in a combined eight events.
"The women are in a great spot. Physically, they're there. Mentally and emotionally, I believe we're there too. Those are the biggest keys for us, and we're going in with the mindset that we want to win," said Rob Hewitt.
The men's team does not yet have the same level of depth as the women's program, but will be also compete and scrap for points with a chance to have some spectacular success in a handful of events.
"We could finish anywhere from fifth to eighth for the men. Individually, Nate Papachristos could win the 1500 and the 800, and we could have as many as four guys in the 800 final. We will have guys who will scrap to get into the finals, and then will scrap for points," said Rob Hewitt.
Scrapping for points, as both Claire and Rob call it, will ultimately be the hallmark of how the Quaker track and field teams fare at the 2018 HCAC meet. Let no potential point go ignored or unpursued. Worry less about chasing an opponent, and concern yourself with chasing every point will be the order of the day.
"Our top kids know they're going to do some work and they're going to swing the proverbial big stick, and I think the other kids know they will join those top kids in scrapping for every point that we can get," stated Rob Hewitt. "That's what this comes down to."
2018 HCAC OUTDOOR TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
LOCATION: William Welch Complex at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
DATES: Friday, April 27, and Saturday, April 28
TIME: Friday's competition begins at 3:00 p.m. with the pole vault, and concludes at 7:00 p.m. with the women's 10,000m. Saturday starts with the men's javelin at 9:00 a.m., and wraps up with the women's 1600m at 3:55 p.m. Championship awards will be presented at 4:45 p.m.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR – WOMEN'S MEET: The women will need a lot of points from two competitors in particular – Chloe Lamenzo, who is individually entered in the triple jump, long jump, 100m, and 200m; and Ana Sosa-Ebert, who will run in the 800m, 1500m, 3000m steeplechase, and 5000m. Leilah Hicks, Hailey Beel, Ellie Haland, and Jasmine Lorenzana will also give the Quakers multiple point-winners in several events.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR – MEN'S MEET: Can the Quakers get four men into the 800m final? Earlham will have Emanuel Faria, Ian Shriner, Michael Grady, and Nate Papachristos – who has the only sub-2:00 qualifying time in the race – entered into the event, and advancing all four into the finals would be an achievement.