Catchin' up on 'Dale-related action

Unfortunately I can’t make up news, coaches and athletes are busy pretending they can play golf and working on their tans and I’ve managed to fool my boss into actually believing I can write hard news stories.

In the meantime there have been several interesting tidbits of information that I feel obliged to pass along. If you’ve already seen it or heard it then good for you. If not, at least it’s something to chew on — albeit only about as tasty as those cardboard cookies you find at the dollar store.


[caption id=“attachment_470” align=“alignright” width=“300” caption=“Mark Nicolet”][/caption]

Former Hillsdale College star Mark Nicolet had one of his most memorable games as a professional football player last weekend.Against the AF2’s top­ranked defense of the Milwaukee Irons he got in the act late, during the Green Bay Bliz­zard’s 86-42 blowout win.
In backup QB duty he threw only five passes, but went 2-for-5 for 78 yards and two touch­downs.
The real kicker though was that Nicolet also took a quarterback draw 44 yards for a score, setting a Bliz­zard record for the longest run from scrimmage.
The Blizzard are now 8-5 on the season.


Roni Jo Roth, 19, daughter of Troy & Renee Roth, has earned the title of Pinto Horse Association of American (PtHA) World Champion. Roth earned her title showing her nine-year-old gelding, Chero­kee, in English riding classes at the annual World Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 2009 competition was simulcast in 52 countries around the world with 7,585 entries. During the 12 day competition Roth competed at the junior amateur level, ages 19-39. Her World Champion title was achieved in Disciplined Rail English. Additional placings included 3rd in English Pleasure, 4th in Ideal Pinto English, and 9th in Hunter Under Saddle. Roni is a 2008 graduate of Hillsdale High School and currently a sophomore at Hillsdale College studying pre-veterinary science.

A pair of recently graduated Hillsdale County stars were named to the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association All­State teams earlier this month. After being named to the MHS­BCA All-State Second Team as a sophomore and junior, Reading’s Ryan Dillon was named to the Division 4 All-State First Team as a catcher. Likewise, Hillsdale senior Scott Lantis was named a utility player on the Division 3 All-State First Team. He will play baseball at Hillsdale College next year.

Ashland University cross country/track and field coaches Leigh Daniel and Nick Cordes have captured the hearts of viewers during the 10th annual NBC’s ‘Today Throws a Wed­ding.’ The Ashland cou­ple have won a free wedding and the oppor­tunity to get married live on national televi­sion on July 15.
Following tradition, viewers will plan the winning finalists’ wed­ding by texting and vot­ing on for the couple’s rings, the wedding gown, the attendants’ attire and the honeymoon.
Cordes and Daniel have dated for five years.
They met at an Olympic Development Program, but dating was prohib­ited so they had to keep their relationship silent.
Check out a video about the couple on MSNBC here if interested.

Football Friday: Northern Michigan University

This weekend the Northern Michigan Wildcats and the Malone University Pioneers face off in week six of Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play. Both schools are evenly ranked… at the bottom of their respective leagues.

NMU has a 1-4 record this season after losing a close game last weekend against Saginaw Valley.

Pictured is a Northern Michigan Wildcats football given to President Ford in 1978. The inscription reads, “To President Gerald Ford for his enthusiastic support of college athletics and kind support of Northern Michigan University football accomplishments.”

The football is signed by Coach Bill Rademacher, Coach “Buck” Nystrom and one other.

Rademacher played for the NMU Wildcats before going on to play seven seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets and the Boston Patriots. Nystrom coached college football for nearly 40 years, and has a scholarship at NMU in his name. 

Middle of the pack? GLIAC coaches pick Chargers to finish 6th

This little rundown was originally posted by Brad Monastiere over at the college, but I updated a few things and changed a few inaccuracies that crept in.

This week the much-antic­ipated 2009 college football season gets started when the Hillsdale College Chargers take the practice field for the first time.

The GLIAC’s annual pre­season coaches poll was re­leased Monday afternoon, at the conference’s football media day, held in Bay City, Mich.

The Chargers were picked to finish sixth by the league’s coaches.

Not surprisingly, Grand Valley State was the consen­sus pick to win the GLIAC.

Ashland, a national playoff qualifier each of the past two seasons, was selected second. Grand Valley is ranked No. 1 in several national presea­son polls, while Ashland is ranked as high as ninth.

Finishing ahead of Hills­dale in the poll were Michi­gan Tech (third), Wayne State (fourth) and Saginaw valley State (fifth).

Hillsdale’s four losses in 2008 came to the top four teams in the 2009 preseason poll. The Chargers are in a two-year scheduling phase where they don’t play Sagi­naw Valley State.

The 2009 season will have plenty of new faces on display at Frank ‘Muddy’ Waters Stadium.

Father Duane Beauchamp, who recently retired as the campus chaplain at Hillsdale College, joins the staff as its wide receivers coach.

Another new face around Charger football is head ath­letic trainer Lynne Neukom, who begins her first full sea­son in that position. She will be assisted by Gus Hemingway, the school’s assistant athletic trainer.

Although some fresh pieces are being added, the 2009 Chargers will benefit from having its entire coaching staff back once again for this season. The full-time coach­ing staff has remained un­changed since the start of the 2006 season, making this the fourth year the entire staff has worked together.

One Charger who won’t be back, but fans will keep talk­ing about is Tom Korte.

In May Korte was signed by the defending world cham­pion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Although he went undrafted, Korte made a strong impres­sion on the Steelers during the team’s minicamp in the spring, and is currently in Steelers training camp in Latrobe, Pa.

Korte was a four-year starter at linebacker for Hills­dale from 2005-08, and was named team MVP twice, its most outstanding linebacker three times, and netted mul­tiple All-Region awards. His absence represents one of the biggest sets of shoes to fill for Hillsdale as it looks ahead to 2009.

The offensive and defensive lines feature standout players who have earned significant national recognition this off­season, and could follow Korte’s path to the NFL next year.

Returning for his fourth season as a starter is offensive lineman Jared Veldheer. Al­ready heavily scouted by the NFL, Veldheer is one of the top left tackles in all of Divi­sion II, and scouts say he has excellent footwork, athleti­cism and power. At 6-9, 321, Veldheer fits the profile of of­fensive linemen who have been drafted by pro teams in recent years.

On the defensive line, Drew Berube is coming off a mon­ster 2008campaignwherehe led the GLIAC in tackles-for­loss. He was named the pre­season Division II Defensive Player of the Year by the Con­sensus Draft Services.

Team captains in '09 are Veldheer, senior defensive back Lance Smith and senior linebacker Mat Szula With the season drawing close the 2009 Hillsdale Col­lege football media guide is also now available for viewing, on the Hillsdale College Web site at­letics.

Once again in 2009, live stats will be available for all Hillsdale College games, home and away, thanks to PrestoSports, who handled all live stats for Charger games in 2008.

B2Networks will broadcast all Charger home football games through their Web site for the third year in 2009. Fans can check the blue box on the football team’s home page to get information on how to watch Charger football games live via B2Networks’ webcasting system.

A handful of away games will also be viewable through B2Networks, including games at Northern Michigan and Ferris State University.

Two schools join GLIAC as provisional members

If all goes according to plan the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) will be a 14-team league as of July 1, 2010, following the official inclusion of new members Lake Erie College (Ohio) and Ohio Dominican.

The GLIAC Presidents Council, made up of the presidents of the league’s 12 current member institutions, voted to officially accept them as provisional members in a meeting on Tuesday held at the University of Findlay.

The vote comes two weeks after the GLIAC Executive Council voted to recommend to the Presidents Council that both institutions be granted membership at its annual spring meeting, after LEC and ODU made formal presentations to the league in Gaylord, Mich. on June 1.

The schools will initially be granted provisional status as both are still in the process of gaining full NCAA Division II status.

LEC first began the transition process during the 2006-07 academic year when it started the two-year exploratory phase, coming from NCAA Division III status, and Ohio Dominican was formerly a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and is currently finishing its first exploratory year in the process of entering Division II.

Hillsdale College athletic director Don Brubacher said full member status within the GLIAC will be granted to each institution when it achieves full Division II membership.

Brubacher said although there are still plenty of hoops for the schools to jump through before they are accredited league members, the Chargers athletic department is delighted with the current progress.

“We’re very pleased with it and are happy that two more private colleges will be potentially joining our league,” he said.

Brubacher said he has not been part of discussions about the possibility of the GLIAC dividing into two divisions based on private or public school status (there are currently seven public and five private members), but he is certain the conference wants to implement “North and South” divisions as soon as possible.

“The league ideally wants to expand to the point of having two clear divisions,” he said. “That way we can try and limit travel expenses and the amount of missed class time for our athletes. And it’s always good to be part of a league that is expanding — because conferences tend to be shifting in recent years and we’re happy to be increasing our membership instead of decreasing.”

According to Jeff Ligney, GLIAC director of media relations, the plan is to eventually expand the conference to 16 full members, which would make scheduling even easier and possibly cut travel costs even further.

Lake Erie College is located in Painesville, Ohio and is an independent, liberal arts institution that currently has over 1,200 students and will offer 20 varsity sports in 2009-10.

“Lake Erie College is delighted to become a member of the premier Division II conference in the nation,” said LEC President Michael T. Victor in a GLIAC press release. “We’ve had many initiatives in recent years, but I truly believe the move to the GLIAC and Division II will be one of our most successful enrollment endeavors and help propel us to the next level.”

Ohio Dominican is located in Columbus, Ohio and is a Catholic liberal arts school that currently offers 14 intercollegiate sports. It was founded in 1911 and current enrollment is over 3,100 students.

“This is a huge accomplishment for Ohio Dominican University and our athletic program as we continue our journey to full membership status within the NCAA,” said Ron Seiffert, ODU Interim President, in the GLIAC press release. “We are honored to join such a competitive and elite conference as the GLIAC and we’re delighted that Lake Erie College will be joining us. I am particularly grateful for all of the hard work undertaken by our students, coaches, faculty and staff that helped achieve this milestone.”

Brubacher said the GLIAC has been in ongoing discussions for years about how to have a stronger presence in larger media markets and the inclusion of these schools would certainly help.

“Ohio Dominican is covered pretty well by the Columbus Dispatch and Lake Erie College certainly has a presence in the Cleveland Plain Dealer,” Brubacher said. “We are always looking for more ways to market our league and I think these schools would help our cause immediately.”

One concern some GLIAC fans have raised is the idea that the inclusion of these schools could mean some weaker competition for at least several years.

Brubacher said the concerns are valid, but something the GLIAC has discussed at length. He said the conference is confident LEC and ODU are on a similar track to schools who have been added in the past.

“We expect both of these schools to compete well, right now in our conference. Sure they won’t be at the same level as the top programs in some sports, but we feel that they can rise to that level,” he said. “And every school has its particular strengths anyways. For example, Findlay is the powerhouse of men’s basketball in our league, but hasn’t fared as well in some other sports, and Tiffin won the (GLIAC) men’s soccer championship (in 2008), but isn’t as strong other places.”

Hillsdale College's stringent standards for athletes worthy of praise

An editorial that ran in the Hillsdale Daily News

Hillsdale College is competitive in a majority of GLIAC sports, and they continue to do that without lowering their academic standards.

In big-time college athletics the likes of Notre Dame, and Stanford among others, have always stood for excellence on and off the playing field, and the Charger program is building a reputation that mirrors that, albeit at a much smaller level.

The incoming class in fall 2008 had an average high school GPA of 3.73 and a composite ACT score of 28. There are only a little over 1,200 students on a liberal arts campus that is known for intense classwork and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.

Yet still, with academics as the top priority, which fits right in line with the NCAA Division II mission statement, they continue to have no trouble keeping up in sports with much bigger institutions, which have much different academic mindsets and track records.

There is a great measuring stick in Hillsdale’s conference, Grand Valley State, who has won five straight U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cups in Division II, the award presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA), United States Sports Academy and USA Today to the best overall collegiate athletics programs in the country.

They have just under 24,000 students enrolled as of January 2009, and the middle 50 percent of incoming freshmen from 2008 had ACT scores between 21 and 26 and GPAs ranging from 3.3-3.8. Not bad at all, but certainly not on par with Hillsdale.

Hillsdale’s head basketball coach John Tharp said recently that a 25 on the ACT is basically required for a kid to get one foot in the door for a visit, as long as it’s accompanied by something close to that 3.73 GPA average of the 2008 class.

Tharp went as far as to say that if those requirements aren’t met that it is the athletic department’s duty, as part of their relationship with the admissions department, to essentially turn away those possible recruits.

So not only are Charger teams dealing with a select group of prospective students who agree with the college’s philosophy and understand the commitment it takes to be a successful student, they are stringently weeding out possible blue-chips, instead of making concessions for them like many, if not most schools.

And in spite of that the Charger women’s basketball team won a GLIAC crown in 2009, the men’s hoops team beat Grand Valley at home this season, and Chris Gravel’s volleyball team is one of the most well-recognized annually on a national level.

Plus Bill Lundberg’s men and women are constantly adding podium finishes and All-American honors to the rich history of track and field and cross country.

They continue to rise to the occasion without the aid of hardly any D-I transfers compared to other GLIAC schools, and all while turning away 36 percent of the students and student-athletes that apply (as of 2007).

Some community members scoff at the idea of the college being so selective because it keeps some star local athletes from pursuing a playing career as a Charger, but here at the Daily News we applaud the college for having standards and sticking to them.

No matter if a high-schooler is a drama club fanatic, choir boy or all-state linebacker the same standards apply. The college is highly committed to winning and turning out successful student-athletes, but they are even more committed to one philosophy and one mission.

Reason for worry in Chargerland?

By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor

An exclusive Walters ‘n Words blog post

Ok, so maybe worry isn’t right word. It could be disappointment or surprise or — scratch that — worry is a fine worf.

The Hillsdale Charger women lost just their third game of the season Thursday night, but the way they lost, when they lost and what kind of team they lost to is somewhat alarming. If the Charger women were just another team that I thought would flame out in D-II postseason play anyways then I wouldn’t think twice about a one-point loss on a deep 3-pointer with six seconds left to a GLIAC foe. But I expect, as do most fans I think, that this is the type of team that is the exception not the norm at HC.

But now I’m worried. For starters, Hillsdale jumped out to a 15-0 lead against a team with a 7-11 GLIAC mark coming into the contest and couldn’t close them out. At tourney time the better team doesn’t always win because of unpredictable waves of momentum, but the Chargers let a team that isn’t much more that a collection of hot-and-cold guards have the last say Thursday.

The Chargers held the Wildcats to 9-of-31 shooting from the field in the first half, but Northern shot a scorching 56.3 percent and drained 5-of-11 from downtown in the second half. Defense and rebounding are the trademarks of Charney’s ladies and last night the Chargers failed at both over the course of the final 20 minutes. Against a Wildcat team that has no consistent post presence on offense and no single player who averages even six rebounds a game the letdown is unacceptable.

The Charger guards fight through screens and play help defense as well as any team I’ve seen this year, so it’s fine to attribute some of NMU’s hot-shooting to their players, but not all of it. Janay Miller and Brooke Knight rarely lose track of their assignments, and it’s hard for me to understand how they can keep Grand Valley’s guards at bay all game long, but not Northern’s.

Also, at first glance an 18-for-24 performance from the charity stripe from the Charger is more than sufficient, but upon further review it is a misleading stat.

Per Diem, Cezat was really the one at the line, as she took 20 of those, sinking 16. Whenever the rest of the team combines for four free throws it symbolizes a lack of aggression or the sheer inability to penetrate the defense. Earlier this season the Charger guards were deferring to Ceazt too much a times, but they’ve solved that in a big way over the last 4-6 weeks. Maybe it was the sub-zero temps in Marquette that froze the Chargers up or maybe last night was just a reminder of what happens when they get out-rebounded and the only player in attack mode is Cezat.

It’s easy to get caught up in all of the successes and achievements of this landmark Charger’s squad, but the players don’t want to just go to the national tournament, they want to show the nation what this incredible team from little old Hillsdale, and a school of just 1,200 playing in a league of giants, is one of the best, if not the best.

I want to look back on Thursday’s shocking loss as a great lesson, but giving the timing it might be looked back on differently.

The Chargers had FINALLY gained the ever so evasive top spot in the Midwest Regional Rankings as of Wednesday, setting them up to host the first few rounds of D-II tournament play. Michigan Tech had faltered, and Hillsdale leapfrogged Northern Kentucky just in time to go beat the Wildcats and punch Tech in the face on Saturday, before finishing things off next week.

To lose a game to a sub-.500 GLIAC squad with so much on the line is disappointing after working so hard to position themselves to pack Jesse Phillips Arena in less than a month is bitter.

Thursday simply shook my dreamy vision of what the Chargers were and what they could be. All I’m asking is for them to quickly remind me of what has made us fall so hard for them in the first place.

Some relationships are just dependent on results and success and this is one of them.

Here is the entire game recap from Hillsdale College Sports Information:

An NBA-range 3-point field goal by Northern Michigan’s Kelsey Deacon with six seconds remaining game the host Wildcats a 69-68 upset of the No. 5-ranked Hillsdale College women’s basketball team Thursday night in Marquette.

The Chargers are now 21-3 overall and 16-3 in the GLIAC, and will travel to Michigan Tech University for a Saturday afternoon showdown of conference division leaders.

Deacon’s shot came after an oft-used, but rarely executed strategy pulled off by the Wildcats. NMU’s Steffani Stoeger purposely missed the second of two free throws, after her first make made the score 68-66. Northern Michigan’s Angie Leckson grabbed the offensive rebound and passed the ball out to Deacon, who drained a basket from well beyond the 3-point arc. The Chargers were unable to get a shot off on the final possession of the game.

Northern Michigan shot 56 percent from the floor in the second half, compared to 39 percent for the Chargers. Hillsdale led the game 33-23 at halftime.

The Chargers opened the game red-hot in the ice-cold arena in the Upper Peninsula. Hillsdale held a 15-0 lead through the game’s first 10 minutes. NMU didn’t make a basket in the game’s first 10 minutes, and didn’t make a two-point basket until six minutes remained in the first half.

But 3-point baskets proved to be the major difference in the game. The Wildcats outscored the Chargers 27-6 in shots from behind the arc, making 9-of-21 in the contest.

Hillsdale led through most of the game, with the Wildcats taking their first lead with 7:14 left in the second half. NMU took 10 more shots from the field than Hillsdale, thanks in part to a 13-8 edge in offensive rebounds, none bigger than the one coming in the game’s final seven seconds.

Charger senior Katie Cezat had another monster game for the Chargers, finishing with 32 points and 21 rebounds. She was 16-for-20 from the free throw line, the second-highest totals of her career in both makes and attempts. She now has 21 double-doubles this season, 11 30-point games and eight 20-rebound games.

Thanks to her 32 points, Cezat broke her own single-season scoring record, set last season. She now has 681 points during the 2008-09 season.

Senior Katie Eckinger and junior Janay Miller each scored 11 points for the Chargers. Hillsdale’s three losses this season have come by a combined total of five points. Deacon scored 23 points for the Wildcats.

Charger women's hoops stats that make my mouth water

By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor

An exclusive Walters ‘n Words blog post

I’m not hard to please and I’m willing to listen to almost any argument about anything, but I like hard evidence rather than clever, but clearly biased opinions.

A 21-2 record overall and 16-2 mark in GLIAC play to go along with a No. 5 national ranking should be enough to convince me that the 2008-09 edition of the Hillsdale Chargers women’s hoops team may be the most impressive college athletic team I’ve had a chance to witness in person on a regular occasion, sorry to all of the 3-6 Northern Michigan football teams I covered, but upon further investigation I’ve determined that the sheer number of eye-popping statistics that make me want to pull out my calculator and have it tell me the GLIAC Web site might be lying is so incredible that I can do nothing less than give you those stats and let you oogle over them, just as I am. I must add that they are not all equally impressive, but the sumation of them tells a story about how this Charger team is accomplishing things even they could not have predicted.


By far the most impressive individual number of them all from my perspective. That is the number of rebounds senior Katie Cezat needs in the final four conference games to break the single season rebounding mark in league play. She is averaging 18.1 rebounds per game in GLIAC games, and even if she gets zero total rebounds in the season’s last four games, she would finish with a rebounding average of 14.7 in GLIAC games. The current record is 14.4.


The number of victories need the rest of the way for the Charegers to set a new school-record for wins in a season. Considering Hillsdale has four regular season games, the GLIAC tourney and D-II tournament at its disposal, a new standard could be set so high that no team comes close to it for quite some time. Both the 2002-03 and 2007-08 squads won 23 games.


Precisely where guard Brooke Knight ranks nationally in assists per game, with 6.4 dimes per contest. This number is thanks in part because of Cezat, but also should be something Cezat attributes her own success to. Without a playmaking guard a big will only take up space at times.


10, as in the top 10. The Chargers have not only lived in the Top 10 of the D-II Top 25 poll also season, they also rank among the 10 best teams in the nation in four major statistical categories as of today. Hillsdale ranks in the top 10 in the nation as a team in assists per game, assist-to-turnover ratio, 3-point field goal percentage and field goal percentage.


If you’re tired of reading or hearing about Cezat then you might as well click the “red X” in the upper left-hand corner right now. The number of points Cezat needs to break her own single-season record for points. So if she averages 6.3 the rest of the way she’s good. But if she averages 6.3 my guess is she is stricken with mono and has two bad ankles and no one wants to see that.


Cezat’s 28 rebounds in an overtime win over Northwood Saturday tied a GLIAC record set back in 1978, she added 28 points in that game and she is averaging 28.2 points per game, second in the entire nation. She has set the bar so high for herself that another 20-20 outing is just that — another.

Charger track and field squads aim high at GLIACs

[caption id=“attachment_210” align=“alignright” width=“300” caption=“Hillsdale junior Aaron Falk has already qualified for nationals in the 35-pound weight throw in two weeks. Photo courtesy of Hillsdale College.”][/caption]

By RJ Walters / Daily News Sports Editor

As published in the Hillsdale Daily News on Feb. 27, 2009

The slogan for Hillsdale Chargers track and field in 2009 is “Return to Dominance” and there is no time quite like the present to try and make that company line a reality.

Starting today the Chargers are competing at the GLIAC Indoor Track and Field Championships at Saginaw Valley State, trying to improve on last season’s third and fourth place team finishes for the men and women.

Despite being ranked considerably higher in the national rankings on both sides at this point compared to last year, a new wave of incredibly talented athletes have joined the conference the past 24 months, making it increasingly tough to accomplish a podium finish in a meet like this.

The men’s team is ranked 21st in the USTFCCCA  dual meet rankings, nine spots better than a year ago and the women are up to 11th, after being ranked 21st at the end of February, 2008.

The competition has matched them blow-for-blow though.

The men’s team from Ashland, Grand Valley, and Tiffin are all ranked in the top 10 and Ashland is only mere points from being the top ranked team in the country.“

The Charger women have second and third ranked Grand Valley and Ashland to contend with on their side.

Nonetheless, Chargers head coach Bill Lundberg is setting his sights at the top of the horizon this weekend.

"I would say we have some of the finest coaches in the nation here and they really do all they can to make sure the athletes have everything they need to become phenomenal scholar-athletes,” he said. “Getting back to where our program has been at points, including the late 80s, doesn’t just happen in a year. It takes a little bit of going up against the Grand Valley’s and Ashland’s to achieve that, but we’re getting there. Sometimes we just like to say we’re a David within the group of Goliaths.

The Chargers currently have one automatic qualifier to the D-II NCAA national championships in two weeks, 35-pound weight thrower Aaron Falk, and there are nine other events that Hillsdale College athletes have met provisional qualifying marks to this point.

Here is a brief look at some of the biggest stars who will play huge rule in guiding their squads toward the top at SVSU this weekend:

Men’s team

The Charger men are highlighted by a trio of upperclassmen who seem to have no ceiling when it comes to setting new personal bests, including a pair of 2008 All-Americans.

Junior Jared Krout was fourth in the nation in the 200m dash and fifth nationally in the 400m dash in 2008 and the team will count on big things from him in those events as well as the long jump.

His success speaks for itself but he will be the first to admit the competition continues to make staying on top harder and harder.

Heading into the conference meet he has just the fifth fastest 400m time (49.47) in the GLIAC and sixth best 200m mark at 22.34. Last season he won the 400m with a 49.25 and the 200m in a school-record 21.88 seconds. He also won the long jump at GLIACs with a jump of 23’ 1 ¾ ”.

He said his peers are better than ever, but he’s up to the challenge.

“Some of the young guys in this conference, especially some freshmen sprinters have really made us all work a little harder and push ourselves a little more,” he said. “But I’ve learned that you just have to trust what you’ve been doing all year and know it’s going to happen for you. Even last year I didn’t run as fast as I wanted all year long and then the conference meet rolled around and things worked out.”

He will be the most watched Charger male in track events, but senior Andrew Dodson and junior Aaron Falk will hope to more than carry their weight in some of the field events.

Dodson was sixth in the nation in the high jump in 2008, good for All-American status and this year he has the third highest jump in the GLIAC at 2.08m, just .03m from the top.

“It’s probably one of the best fields ever this year for the high jump. The top three guys in the conference will all be competitive at nationals.” he said. “We’ve all won at one time or another going head-to-head this season and the measure of separation is very little.”

He said he always tries to focus on what he’s doing, not his opponents, because if you’re not peaking right now then it’s not going to matter what the competition is doing anyway.

He said he’s striving to finish his career with another All-American performance, noting he’s “closer to a national championship than even he thinks sometimes”.

Another Charger who is ready to claim All-American status of his own is Falk, who has already qualified for nationals in the 35-pound weight.

His road to success has been an unlikely one, a road that didn’t even include competing in track and field as a high schooler.

He came to college with hopes of walking on to the football team, but the Charger track and field coaches showed immediate interest and now he heads to GLIACs as the fourth ranked thrower in the conference.

He said he didn’t have any bad habits to break like some freshman do, because he was “an empty slate” and he gives all of the credit for his success to coach Jeff Forino.

“Coach Forino just took me as I was and molded me. He has had a huge influence on everything I’ve done since the day I joined the team,” he said. “Coach Forino has been focusing on the technical and physical aspects for months and he has really trained us how to be right on mentally later in the year.”

Falk said being a member of the Charger team has “been a huge blessing in his life” and and the opportunity has opened up so many new avenues for him.

“All I know is they threw away the mold when they made Aaron Falk,” coach Lundberg said.

Aside from the impressive trio of prospective national qualifiers, a pair of freshmen could make a splash this weekend.

Waldron graduate Tim Jagielski is ranked seventh in the GLIAC in the mile (4:16.68) and 12th in the two-mile (8:46.99) going in and first-year triple jumper Derek Top is third in his event with a mark of 13.58m.

Women’s team

The Charger women are in the midst of a youth movement of sorts, with two freshmen and two sophomores already having met provisional qualifying marks for nationals.

Maybe the most promising of those, based on numbers alone, is sophomore Marta Scheiwe. In 2008 she finished second in the conference meet in the 200m (25.11) and the 400m (57.37) and is ranked in the top 20 nationally in both events this year.

She is second in the 200m (25.29) and tops in the 400m (57.16) and she said consistency is one of the biggest keys in being a top track and field athlete.

“I think one of the biggest things for us is just being consistent and working hard all the time. Because our season is so long — we’re training all fall even though the season doesn’t start — and then you have indoor season and outdoor season, you have to be dedicated the whole time.”

She said she also constantly reminds herself that the main reason she competes is because she truly enjoys it and the final results are only part of the equation.

Scheiwe has also provisionally qualified for nationals in the 60m dash with a time of 7.77 seconds.

Freshman Amanda Putt is third in the mile (5:01.19) heading in to this weekend’s meet and fellow first-year athlete Kathy Dirksen is ninth in the shot put (12.75m).

Sophomores Kelsey Schuler and Erin Brunko also have hopes of podium finishes and all-conference status.

Schuler has the top triple jump mark in the conference at 10.74m and Brunko is fifth best in the 3000m (10:27.91).

Junior Kathryn Hunt will try and add onto an already stellar career in the women’s long jump, where she is currently ranked third in the GLIAC, with a jump of 5.49m.

Senior Sarah Kauk is the fourth best in women’s pole vault to date and is just .07 behind the third best mark in the conference.

Scheiwe said the team has goals they expect to meet over the next two days.

“One of them is to win the indoor conference championships,” she said. “We also make sure we support each other on and off the track and no matter what happens we always want give 100 percent 24/7.

Lundberg said he is constantly amazed at the dedication and drive of his athletes and he thinks it is going to pay off in a tangible way, especially if everyone can help pile up some points.

"To compete and become a champion in this conference…it’s hard. You need depth and you need talent within that depth to compete.”