McPHERSON — Outstanding individual performances sparked the day for the Bethel Threshers on Saturday at the KCAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at McPherson Stadium on the campus of McPherson College.
Kyle Wilson, Julio Martinez, Calil Burnett and Rashe' Boynton all garnered individual conference champion honors in leading the Threshers to a seventh place team finish in the men's scoring and a ninth place team finish on the women's side. McPherson won the men's event with 177 points. Bethel scored 49. On the women’s side, Friends took home the team title with 276. Bethel scored 31.
"It was a great two-days for the team," said Threshers coach Jeff Hoskisson. "Everyone stepped up and performed outstanding. Five conference champions says a lot for the hard work that these athletes put in every day. I am very proud of them."
Wilson got things going for Bethel on Friday afternoon in the men's discus. With winds at the throwers back, many of the throwers struggled early in the event, including Wilson. Only second after his first three preliminary throws, Wilson launched his winning throw of 144-2 in the fourth round. That throw held up for the rest of the competition to give him the championship.
On Saturday, Wilson became the first Thresher thrower to record two titles in one meet when he took the shot put title with a toss of 51-11 1/4. Wilson was pushed by Michael Jensen of Ottawa, the runner-up. Jensen took the lead in the opening round, before Wilson moved in front with his second throw. Wilson ended the competition in the third round with his 51-11 1/4 toss.
"Kyle did an outstanding job in both events," Hoskisson said. "Coming in as the favorite is not always the easiest thing. Kyle was able to maintain his composure and do what he needed to do to win both events."
Martinez did what no Bethel athlete has done since 1977, win the 1,500-meter run. In what turned out to be a perfectly executed tactical race, Martinez took home the win in 4:03.00, becoming the first Thresher since John Muthama last won the event in 1977 to bring home the championship. Martinez started the race controlled in the middle of the pack. Through the first two laps he ran mid-pack. Tegan Michael of St. Mary took control of the race over the final lap and build a lead of over 10 meters. Martinez started to make a move with 300 to go but still trailed by about 15 meters. Entering the final turn Michael still held the front with Martinez next back but still 8 meters back but coming. Martinez rapidly closed the gap over the last fifty meters and finally pulled ahead just as the duo got to the finish line.
"It was a perfectly executed race," Hoskisson said. "We had hoped for the race to go this way. He just cut it a little close."
Martinez doubled back just over an hour later in the 800. After a slow first lap, he worked his way through the field again using his strong kick but came up just short of Meshach Adams and Tegan Michael of Saint Mary, to finish third in 1:58.08.
Burnett turned in the day's biggest surprise in capturing the 100-meter dash title. After advancing to the final with only the seventh fastest time, Burnett running in lane one, got out of the blocks first and led the race the entire way winning in a time of 10.88. Burnett's win was the first by a Thresher since Joe Scott won the title in 1992.
"Calil ran the perfect race. He got out well and executed his acceleration to perfection and then didn't falter over the final 20 meters," Hoskisson said.
Boynton preceded Burnett in adding her name to a long list of Thresher women to win the 100-meter title. The last time the feat was achieved was in 1985 by Debbie Regier.
Just like Burnett, Boynton got out of the blocks well and took control of the race by midway and was never really challenged in running 12.40.
"Rashe' ran a very good race," Hoskisson said. "She got a very good start and executed her race plan well."
Boynton was not done for the night as she next had the 200-meter final. A solid start put her in a good position at the top of the turn, but a slight lull put her in third coming off the turn. Down the homestretch she battled her way past Amy Baimbridge of McPherson and closed ever so close on Tisian Neasly of Saint Mary. The duo hit the line together with Neasly getting the 25.54 to 25.55 win.
Boynton ended her day with a strong anchor leg in the 4x400 relay. Joined by Fantasia Johnson, MaKenna Price, and Katelyn Fatten, the foursome ran 4:13.96 to finish seventh and cap of the night for the Threshers.
Boynton had started her day along with Johnson, Price and Veronica Ziegler to finish fifth in the 4x100 relay.
Ziegler added points to the team total just prior to the relay with a strong performance in the triple jump finishing seventh with a jump of 33-4 1/2.
Bryna Rietcheck and Samantha Strauss nearly duplicated their performances at last year's conference meet where they went sixth and eighth in the javelin. Rietcheck upped it this year with a fifth place finish throwing 116-4 and Strauss duplicated her eighth place finish with a toss of 103-8. The duo had accounted for the Threshers only points at the conference meet last year.
Burnett also helped the men's 4x100 team to a seventh place finish in 43.37. He was joined by Bruce Rosario, Gary Jolivet and Heath Goertzen.
Goertzen match his finish at the indoor meet with an eighth place finish in the triple jump with a person best 42-11 3/4 effort.
The Threshers will next see action this Friday with Julio Martinez and Rashe' Boynton taking part in a Last Chance meet before Boynton and Wilson and hopefully Martinez compete in the NAIA Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 25 to 27 in Gulf Shores, Ala.