Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter
HANOVER, Ind. – The Hanover men's track and field team will look to capitalize and improve further this indoor season following a strong campaign in 2017.
Prior to the start of the indoor season, which begins Jan. 19, at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Invitational, we will take a final look back at last year and preview some of the top returners this winter.
The men's sprint group will be led by sophomore Samuel Pyle (Goshen, Ky.), junior Darrell Payne (Indianapolis, Ind.) and senior Andrew Strong (Poland, Ind.). Together they were all a part of a 4x400 meter relay team that turned in a time of 3:34.31 last season, which was good enough for fifth in school history.
Pyle saw early success last season, as he turned in 200 and 400m finishes that are good for second and fifth respectively in program history. The current sophomore ran his top indoor 200 time at the HCAC Championships last season, clocking in at 23.20 seconds. He added his best 400m run a week later at the Fred Wilt Invitational, racing across the finish line at 52.50.
Strong, a three time all-HCAC indoor selection, will look to build off of successes in the 60m hurdles, as he finished with times of 9.53 and 9.63 seconds last season. As a junior, Strong was a member of the Distance Medley Relay squad that took first place at the conference meet, earning him first team all-HCAC honors.
Payne returns for his third year with the squad after earning second team and honorable mention accolades in his first two indoor campaigns with HC. The junior has competed on some of the program's best relay squads, as well as the 60, 200 and 400m dashes.
Director of Track & Field and Cross Country, Brian Power, placed confidence in his returning sprinters to lead a younger group of athletes, saying of them, "Samuel, Darrell and Andrew will look to lead the way for a younger supporting cast, in an area we will look to find some success in."
"Payne and Strong have run on multiple school record relays during their collegiate careers and we will be looking for someone to step up into the fourth spot to challenge the top teams in the conference," added Power.
On the distance side, the men hope to carry over some of the momentum from this past cross country season, which saw them place second as a team, tying their best finish in the HCAC-hosted event. Sophomore Hayden Veach (Shelbyville, Ind.), junior Jacob Hedrick (Memphis, Ind.) and senior Joe Rector (Aurora, Ind.), who all ran to top five times at the HCAC cross country championships, will look to lead this group and challenge for individual titles.
On the track, Veach excelled in the 800m last season, as his personal best of 2:02.05 ranks fourth all-time, and is less than two seconds behind Mike Sullivan's record of 2:00.56 set in 2005.
Hedrick was highly versatile last season, turning in times that rank in the top five of Hanover's record book in the mile (4:31.61), 3000m (9:07.23) and 5000m races (15:37.17). All of Hedrick's top times came last season, including at the HCAC Championship where he placed fifth in the 3000m.
Rector posted top five finishes in the 3000m and 5000m runs during his opening two meets last season, and later scored in the 3000m race at the HCAC championships. As a sophomore, Rector won both the 3K and 5K races at the HCAC meet to earn first team all-league honors.
Next week we will take a look at the top returning field athletes on the men's side. Also stay tuned for our season preview releases for the women's track & field squad.
Contact: Tyler Jester