Men's track & field season preview: track events

Darrell Payne




Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter

HANOVER, Ind. - The Hanover men's track and field team will strive to further their recent progress heading into the 2019 campaign.

The Panthers have been a consistent performer during the indoor calendar, as they have logged four consecutive finishes in the top five at the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championships, including two third-place appearances in 2016 and 2018.

The 2018 season saw the sprinters anchored by a trio of returning runners in senior Darrell Payne (Indianapolis, Ind.), junior Samuel Pyle (Goshen, Ky.), and sophomore Reece Hunter (Mooresville, Ind.). Together, they, along with now-graduate Andrew Strong, combined for a 3:30.86 in the 4x400 meter relay at the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Championships on Feb. 17, 2018, which qualified for the second-fastest time in school history.

Individually, Hunter's 400m time of 51.13 at the 2018 HCAC Indoor Championship ranks third all-time in the Hanover record books, an impressive feat to accomplish as a first year. Payne and Pyle also have solo successes, combining for two of the three best Panther times in the 200m dash; Payne timed in at 23.09 at the Anderson Indoor Invitational during this past winter campaign to slot him second, while Pyle's 23.20 finish at the 2017 conference indoor meet puts him in third.

Coach Brian Power said of the sprinters "This trio [Payne, Pyle, and Hunter] should be one of the more formidable long sprint groups in the HCAC…We expect our relays to be solid with the addition of a strong underclassmen group."

Senior Joe Sheryak (Greenwood, Ind.) will lead the hurdlers, who will see a lot of new faces such as freshman Steven Delaney (Charlestown, Ind.). Sheryak is a well-rounded athlete who holds several top tens for the track squad, among them being the fifth-fastest 60-meter hurdle time of 9.03 seconds, set at the 2018 HCAC Indoor Championships. Also of note is that Sheryak has finished this race under 10 seconds in every attempt since notching a 10.33 in his first collegiate meet. 

The distance runners will be headed by senior Jacob Hedrick (Memphis, Ind.) and junior Hayden Veach (Shelbyville, Ind.), who each earned Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference All-Second Team honors for their performances in the HCAC Indoor Championships last winter.

As recently as last year, Veach set the program mark for two races: in the 800 meter dash, Veach crossed the line at 1:59:23 to capture second place and the Panther record at the Indianapolis Tom Hathaway Distance Classic. The next weekend at the Anderson University Indoor Invitational, Veach climbed to the top of the Blue and Red's leaderboard in the mile with a race-clinching time of 4:27.67. 

Hedrick, on the other hand, claimed third place in Panther lore for the 3000m at the HCAC Indoor Championships during the 2018 campaign, clocking in at 8:59.97. In 2017, Hedrick posted top three marks in the mile and 5000m run, with times of 4:31.61 and 15:25.30, respectively.

Coach Power commented that the distance runners "...have the potential to rewrite the Hanover distance records after a tremendous fall."

In the autumn months, Hedrick and Veach excelled, setting records and achieving personal success. Hedrick became the first Hanover runner to capture first place in the HCAC Cross Country Championships with a time of 25:59.0. His performance also garnered him the HCAC Most Valuable Runner Award. At the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional, he finished 18th to capture All-Region honors. With this, Hedrick set another Panther first, becoming the premiere men's runner to advance to the NCAA National Cross Country Championships.

Veach set marks of his own, running a 25:57.1 at the Jenna Strong Classic, moving him into 17th on the all-time list. His top 25 finale at the Great Lakes Regional gave him All-Region accolades, which makes it the second consecutive year that the Blue and Red have had two All-Region competitors. 

Contact: Tyler Jester