GREENWOOD, Ind. - For the third consecutive year the Hanover men's track and field team has been picked by the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's 10 head coaches to finish third in the HCAC Preseason Poll.
The Panthers received 80 total points after placing fourth at last year's league meet. Rose-Hulman, which has won the last 10 conference championships, was once again the unanimous choice to finish first. The Fightin' Engineers received all 10 first place votes for a total of 100 points.
Anderson was picked second following a second place finish in last year's meet. The Ravens were chosen just ahead of the Panthers with 87 points.
Manchester and Bluffton round out the top five with 73 and 56 points respectively. Defiance (6th - 49), Franklin (7th - 38), Earlham (8th - 37), Transylvania (9th - 19) and Mount St. Joseph (10th - 10) completed the poll.
After finishing no higher than fifth between 2010 and 2015, Hanover will look to continue its move toward the top of the league as the Panthers were third in 2016 and fourth last year. Since 2010, the men's team has placed in its predicted finish five times.
Head Coach Brian Power will have five all-HCAC performers back from last year's team led by senior Joe Rector (Aurora, Ind.) and sophomore Hayden Veach (Shelbyville, Ind.). Rector earned second team all-conference honors in both 2015 and 2017 and was a first team selection in 2016. In each of the previous three years, Rector has finished among the top three in the 5,000 and 10,000m runs and won the 10k as a sophomore.
Veach is coming off an indoor season in which he set two new school records in the 800m and mile runs. Along with Rector, the second-year athlete was also a second team all-league performer a year ago after he placed second in the 1500m.
In addition, Hanover returns senior Andrew Strong (Poland, Ind.), junior Darrell Payne (Indianapolis, Ind.) and sophomore Samuel Pyle (Goshen, Ky.). Payne has been an HCAC honorable mention selection in each of his first two seasons. Strong and Payne are part of the school record 4x200 relay team, with Strong also running a leg on the school record 4x400m relay. Pyle earned honorable mention accolades in his first collegiate season and currently owns the fourth-best time in program history in the 400m.
The 2018 outdoor season is set to start Saturday, March 17 at the Rose-Hulman Early Bird Meet. The Panthers will then return home the following Saturday to host the Hanover Invitational Saturday, March 31.
Contact: Mike Pritchard