At the Division III Track and Field National Championship in Claremont, California (May 24-26), Hamline’s athletes enjoyed great success. Hamline sent a trio of women’s competitors—throwers Becky Culp, Brenna Coyle, and Shawny Kramer. The university also sent three men’s competitors—distance runners Jack Deichert and Devin Monson, and thrower Brennan McKeag. The contingent is one of the larger groups of athletes Hamline has sent to the meet in recent years and was the second largest from the MIAC conference this year.
Of the six, four of the athletes earned All-American honors. Culp and Coyle earned All-American honors for their third place finish in the discus and seventh place finish in the hammer throw, respectively. Monson finished third in both the 10,000 meter and 5,000 meter race, and Deichert finished second in the 1500 meter race.Dedication and preparation
Competing at the national meet requires a long-term commitment.
“I started training again two weeks after the end of the track season last year,” Culp said. “My coach Drew Jones really helped me to prepare physically and mentally.”
“I really started preparing for competing in a national meet as a sophomore,” Deichert, a senior at Hamline, said. “After I ran fast race at indoor conference that year, I realized that competing at a national meet was a possibility for me.
For Monson, changes in his training this year helped to improve his conditioning and prepare him for rigors of competing in two events at the national meet. He also took the time to learn about the athletes from other schools around the country so he would know what to expect.
Coyle credits coaches for helping to prepare and for being a great life resource, as well.
“The coaching staff really guided us and they are a great resource,” Coyle said. “I don’t think they get enough credit.”Competition
At the meet, the athletes focused on their events and staying relaxed despite the heightened competition.
“The travel wasn’t too big an issue because we traveled to several other meets this year,” Monson said. “The important part was to keep a normal sleeping schedule despite the time change.”
Monson and Deichert’s secret to success was staying out of the hot southern Californian sun as much as possible.
“Other people spent the time leading up to their events watching the meet. Jack and I spent that time inside a gym, so that we would be fresher,” Monson said.
Culp admits to a being a particularly social person, so she made sure to keep focused on her throws.
“It also was helpful having teammates, coaches, and family there,” Culp said. “The energy of the meet was very exciting—especially when we are all there together.”
Deichert really appreciated having the close attention of his coach Paul Schmaedeke at the meet, who he credits for guiding him over the past four years.
For the throwers, the key to success was simply not doing anything different than what got them there.
“A lot of people try and go out there and really kill it and then mess up,” Culp said. “I just treated the national meet like any other competition and threw the discus the same way.”
Coyle felt that it was important to limit her own expectations.
“Coach Schmaedeke tells us to go out there and just do what you know what to do,” Coyle said. “When I stay relaxed and treat the national meet like any other I do better.”
For the two distance runners, racing championship meets is a little different. At most meets competitors just try and run the best possible time, while at the national meet they want to run to win.
“I am more hesitant to take the lead early on in national meet because what you really want to do is conserve as much energy as possible for the end of the race,” said Monson.
Deichert agreed, “My biggest strength as runner is my finishing sprint—I just want to be in position at the end of the race.” Future goals
One of only two returners in the group, Culp would like to make a return trip to the national meet next year, and she hopes to improve on her throws as well.
Culp, a physics major, hopes to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering after graduating from Hamline. She does plan to stay involved in the sport as well as play pursue her other passion: music as a member of a community band. She may not be the only women’s thrower going, either. First-year Shawny Kramer, who made the meet will likely return next year and hopefully improve on her 11th place finish this year.
“Shawny could be a national champion in the future, she is amazingly talented,” said Coyle.
Coyle, a recent graduate with a degree in communication studies, plans to return to school in a year or two to earn a master’s in human resources management or elementary education.
Deichert is currently mulling one more season of track and field, as he has one more year of eligibility due past injuries. A sociology and political science double major, he would like to break the four minute mile barrier in the future after flirting with it this past season and 14:00 minutes in 5,000 meter race. Long-term, he expects to pursue a career in business.
Monson, a sports and exercise science major, plans to stay deeply involved in the sport. In the fall, he will may join the coaching staff at University of Wisconsin-Stout, where he intends to earn a master’s degree in education. Coincidentally, one his athletes at Stout will be Tim Nelson, who beat Monson in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters races this spring. Monson said he doesn’t hold any grudges. He also is running competitively for a club team in Saint Paul.
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