HANOVER, Ind. – With the indoor season complete, the Hanover men's track & field team turns its attention to the 2018 outdoor campaign, and we open our annual season preview series with the runners.
The Panthers are coming off a successful indoor season which saw them post their second top three finish in three years at the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships. Combined, the Hanover men and women had 30 new additions to the indoor top five all-time lists, including seven new school records.
Sophomore Hayden Veach (Shelbyville, Ind.) was product of two record breaking indoor performances this winter, setting new standards in the 800m and one mile runs. Veach added second team all-HCAC honors after a second place finish in the one mile. The sophomore, who was also one of three Panther athletes to record all-conference accolades for the 2017 cross country season, will look to recapture the magic from last outdoor season which saw him garner second team honors. Veach placed second at the outdoor conference meet in the 1500m, while his prelim time of 1:57.74 in in the 800m was good enough for first at the meet and fourth in school history.
Head coach Brian Power will be fortunate enough to also return a pair of experienced distance runners, along with Veach, in senior Joe Rector (Aurora, Ind.) and junior Jacob Hedrick (Memphis, Ind.). The trio has a chance for a special outdoor campaign according to Power.
"The men's distance group has the potential to accomplish big things this outdoor season. We are excited to see them challenge school records and compete for conference championships."
In terms of competing for conference championships, Rector has done just that in his first three outdoor stints with the Panthers, garnering second team honors in 2015 and 2017 and first team accolades in 2016. The senior has posted top three finishes at the outdoor conference meet in the 5,000 and 10,000m runs every year and he won the 10K in 2016 with a time of 31:51.88, which is the second fastest time in program history.
A quintet of athletes will look to build off honorable mention performances this past indoor season, including junior Darrell Payne (Indianapolis, Ind.), sophomore Samuel Pyle (Goshen, Ky.) and freshman Reece Hunter (Mooresville, Ind.), who will lead the group of sprinters. Payne, who has earned HCAC honorable mention awards in each of his first two outdoor seasons, has personal best times of 23.12 and 50.34 seconds in the 200 and 400m, respectively. The junior, along with senior Andrew Strong (Poland, Ind.), are both school record holders in the 4x200m relay. Strong, also a member of the 4x400m relay school record group, will look to lead the Panther hurdlers. The senior has posted 110m and 400m hurdle times of 17.41 and 55.98 seconds, with his 400m time ranking third in school history.
Pyle, a 2017 HCAC outdoor honorable mention selection, will join Payne in the 200 and 400m dashes, with his top times coming in 22.57 and 49.40 seconds, respectively. The sophomore's 400 time is also fourth on the school's top five all-time list. Hoping to build off his first indoor campaign is Hunter, who placed third in the 400m at the HCAC Championships this winter, with a time of 51.13. The freshman also posted the second best indoor heptathlon score in school history at 4,092 points.
Power and the rest of the coaching staff were pleased with the sprint group's progression throughout the indoor season and expect substantial time drops this spring.
Stay tuned early next week as we take a look at our men's field athletes for the upcoming outdoor season. Hanover begins the campaign Saturday, March 17, at the Rose-Hulman Early Bird Meet.
Contact: Tyler Jester