Men’s track gears up for HCAC Indoor Championships

Kyler Perez
Photo Credit: Michelle Witt




Written by Sports Information Student Assistant, Jake Sipes-Salter

HANOVER, Ind. - The Hanover men's track & field team will look to make history this weekend when they travel to Defiance College for the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Events are scheduled to commence at 1 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, inside the George M. Smart Athletic Center.

POLLS AND FINISHES: The Panthers were tabbed third in the annual HCAC Preseason coaches poll for three straight seasons from 2016-2018. In both the 2016 and 2018 campaigns, the Blue and Red lived up to their rankings, and in each year slotted inside the top four. After being picked second this year, Hanover can make history if they are able to grab a runner-up or championship finish at the conference meet.

RAUCOUS RELAYS: The relays have been a strong part of the team for the past two seasons, posting six times among the program's top 10 in three different events. At the DePauw Invitational, the 25-year-old Distance Medley Relay record was broken by the quartet of senior Jacob Hedrick (Memphis, Ind.), junior Hayden Veach (Shelbyville, Ind.), sophomore Reece Hunter (Mooresville, Ind.), and freshman Cooper Hanson (Greenfield, Ind.), whose collective mark of 10:30.45 shattered the school record by almost 14 seconds and won the event. The time is also the fastest in the HCAC and among the top 20 nationally this year.

Also at DePauw, the team of senior Darrell Payne (Indianapolis, Ind.), junior Samuel Pyle (Goshen, Ky.), freshman Kornell Dash (Evansville, Ind.) and freshman Bryce Gatewood (Noblesville, Ind.) placed second in the 4x200 meter relay at 1:35.46, which was just one-tenth of a second from making Hanover's 10-fastest times in the event.

Making more school history earlier in the year at Ohio Northern was the 4x400 relay, where the team of Payne, Veach, Gatewood, and Hanson ran the fifth-quickest time on Panther leaderboards at 3:34.06, which is also the top time in the conference in 2019.

HUNTER WINS HCAC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Reece Hunter won his first HCAC Player of the Week for his performance on Feb. 9, at the DePauw Invitational. On top of running in the record-breaking distance medley relay, Hunter timed at 51.41 in the 400m for the fastest finish in the HCAC this year. Moreover, Hunter finished second in the high jump with a hop of 1.93m, the fourth-loftiest jump in school history.

Individually, Hunter has posted seven top 10 marks for HC in seven different events over his two indoor campaigns. Highlighting these are his 200m time and his long jump, events that he holds the second-highest mark on record in. In the 200, he ran a 22.85 this year, while in the long jump he leapt a distance of 6.38m for runner-up on the school books.

SHERYAK SHOWING VERSATILITY: Senior Joe Sheryak (Greenwood, Ind.) scored in four different events at DePauw: the pole vault, the 60m hurdles, the 200, and the high jump. In the hurdles, his 8.95 preliminary time qualified for fourth all-time for Hanover. Additionally, his pole vault of 4.07 meters was the second-best in Panther lore, as he is only the second athlete to clear the four-meter mark.

At the Tom Hathaway Distance Classic in Indianapolis in January, Sheryak set the program pace for the heptathlon with 4389 points. Sheryak has also put himself among the all-time leaders for the Blue and Red in the long jump this season, getting a 6.34m jump on Jan. 25 at the Tom Hathaway Distance Classic.

GOING THE DISTANCE: Jacob Hedrick has set a pair of top two times in distance events during the 2019 indoor grind in addition to his participation on the DMR squad. In the 3000m, Hedrick ran a school-record time of 8:46.04 at the Rose-Hulman Friday Night Spikes, garnering him an HCAC Player of the Week award. The next weekend, Jan. 18-19, at the Indiana University Gladstein Invitational, Hedrick was less than two seconds from the school mark with a finish of 15:15.45.

Veach has spread himself out, having consistent appearances in distance relays as well as longer individual races. Veach holds the program-best in the 800m and the mile runs, with respective times of 1:59.34 and 4:27.67. The 800 time was set this year at the Ohio Northern Joe Banks Invitational, when Veach broke his own personal record. Veach is also a regular part of the DMR and the 4x400 squads that have each notched top fives on the Hanover all-time performance list this year.

Sophomore Andy Vilardo (Bloomington, Ind.) and Cooper Hanson are other distance runners that have Panther history in 2019. For Vilardo, he set the seventh-swiftest time for HC in the 3000m with a time of 9:13.63 on Jan. 11 at Friday Night Spikes, while Hanson ran the 800m in 2:01.07 in the 800 for third-place on the school leaderboards at the same meet.

FIELDING SUCCESS: Junior Kyler Perez (Garrett, Ind.) leads the throws, as his weight throw of 15.25m at DePauw now puts him fourth on the all-time list. It is also the third straight meet and fourth in his last five where he has increased his distance in the event.

Junior Ethan Monnin (Minster, Ohio) once again cleared the four-meter plateau with a 4.07m vault at DePauw for sixth place in the event. Monnin holds the Panther vault mark with a 4.35m height set at the 2018 HCAC Indoor Championships.

Freshman Riley Cook (Corydon, Ind.) has the third-best high jump on the Blue and Red record books and is tied for the highest in the conference this season with a height of 1.95m, set at the Friday Night Spikes opener. At DePauw, Cook garnered a fifth-place seeding with a 1.83m leap.

Contact: Tyler Jester