They have been at it for nearly six months. And now it has come to this: six Piper tracksters -- three men and three women -- are going their final drills prior to the start of the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships that begin May 24 at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.
Appropriately, the three Pipers who are involved in two events this weekend get going on the first day of the meet.
Becky Culp, the junior thrower who is one of just MIAC competitors in the field, starts things off in the Discus. She enters the event ranked 10th in the country. Her throw of 44.65m (146-6 feet) earned her first place at the MIAC Outdoor meet in Moorhead two weeks ago. It is roughly 5 1/2 meters from the top throw in the country of 50.07m. Culp's events starts at 2:15 p.m. local time (4:15 p.m. CDT).
The senior runners Jack Deichert and Devin Monson are also in action on May 24. Deichert 's 3:49.56 effort in the 1500 Meters last weekend at North Central (Ill.) broke a longstanding school record, the top effort this year by a MIAC runner and ranks sixth in the country. His time is six seconds of the best recorded time this year of 3:43.49. he is scheduled run at 4:45 p.m. (6:45 CDT). This is a preliminary round designed to cut the field down. The finals for this race are Saturday.
At 7:05 p.m. local time (9:05 p.m. CDT), Monson will join 19 other runners in the 10,000 Meter championship race. Devin set his blistering school record mark (and fourth best in the country) of 29:37.13 at Hillsdale (Mich.) April 26. The top time in this race is 14 seconds faster but the runner who did it -- Middlebury's Michael Schmidt -- did so on April 6.
On Friday, May 25, Hamline's other trio kicks into action.
At 2:05 p.m. local time (4:05 p.m. CDT), Brennan McKeag takes up the Hammer Throw.. The only MIAC competitor in the field, Brennan's best effort of 58.19m (190-11) sits as 11th best in the country. Interestingly, it was achieved the last time the Pipers competed in California -- at the PLU Invitational March 17. It is roughly 16 feet short of the best throw of the spring.
Brenna Coyle and Shawny Kramer will have to wait a while to have their supper that day. At 5:00 p.m. local time (7:00 p.m. CDT), the pair will be competing in the Hammer. Like her fellow senior McKeag, Coyle took to the California very well on March 17, throwing 52.79m (173-2), the 10th best throw of the year. Kramer, the only freshman competing in the 22-player field in this event, is one place behind Coyle with a 52.71m (172-11) effort that was good enough to win the MIAC Championship a couple of weeks ago. The top throw here is 193-5.
Culp returns for seconds on May 26 in the Shot Put at 1:00 p.m. (3 p.m. CDT). She, too, excelled on March 17 at PLU, throwing 13.25m (43-5 3/4), which was the top effort by a MIAC thrower this year. It also ties her for 19th best overall and is 5 1/2 feet from the best throw of the season.
Two hours later, Deichert is hoping to be in the final 1500 Meter field.
At 5:55 p.m. (7:55 p.m.), Monson and Deichert join 18 others in the final individual race of the meet -- the 5,000 Meter Run. Like a good golfer breaking par, Monson's times have been headed in the right downward direction all spring. His 14:12.57 at North Central stands as a new school record and the fifth best in the land, a mere 15 seconds from the best recorded time this year. Deichert's 14:26.99 clocking in the same race also would have shattered the old mark and sits 13th overall.
The six-member contingent is one of the largest Hamline has sent to the NCAAs in recent years. The only Piper ever to win a national title at this meet was Mike Manders, who claimed the Shot Put crown in 1983. Tom Kreger finished second in the 5,000 meter race in 2003.
The entire list of competitors at the NCAA meet can be found by clicking here.