Brock Lewis

Central's Brock Lewis

PELLA — A quintet of Central College men’s track and field athletes will use their experience from NCAA Division III Championships action to spearhead the team this spring.

Heading into the 2022 track and field campaign, five Dutch men have previously competed at the national level including four in the last calendar year.  Caleb Silver (junior, Conrad, BCLUW HS) and Will DeHaan (senior, DeWitt, Central DeWitt HS) both qualified the for NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in the fall. Long jumper Brock Lewis (senior, Lathrop, Mo.) was an All-American in the spring at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Silver competed in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the national meet as did high jumper Sam Beatty (junior, Mount Pleasant). Drake Lewis (senior, Lathrop, Mo.) competed in the high jump at the 2019 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“We have a lot of potential,” coach Brandon Sturman said. “We pretty much have everyone back who scored at the conference meets and we do have everyone back who went to nationals. We’re really excited about that.”

Beyond its five national qualifiers, the rest of the 50-man Dutch roster will be looked to help pile up the points for a Dutch team that finished third at the American Rivers Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships and fourth at the outdoor meet.

“We have more depth this year than we’ve had recently,” Sturman said. “We have a lot of options in terms of how we are going to position ourselves at the conference meets.”

The indoor season started with the Dutch Holiday preview in December and ends with the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships on March 11-12 in Greensboro, North Carolina. The outdoor season begins with the Central Invitational April 1-2 and ends at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships May 26-28 in Geneva, Ohio. The American Rivers Conference Championships are both in Dubuque this year, with the indoors set for February 25-6 and outdoors set for May 12-14.

Multi-events

The multi-events have been historically a strength for the Dutch and this year’s crew is no exception. Junior Lucas Heitz (junior, sophomore, Adel, ADM HS) won the pentathlon at last year’s indoor conference meet and sophomore Jaxon Thompson (Marion, Linn-Mar HS) was second. Outdoors, Brody Klein (sophomore, Rainier, Wash.) was second in the decathlon. Heitz, Jaxon Thompson and Nick Thompson (senior, Newhall, Benton HS) also scored in the decathlon, meaning Central took four of the eight placements. In total, those four athletes 52 points at the two league championships.

“Our goal would be for some of them to score in individual events at the conference meet and spread the points out,” Sturman said.

The group only gets stronger this year with the arrival of freshman Reid Pakkebier (Cedar Rapids, Kennedy HS).

“It’s as deep as we’ve ever been,” Sturman said. “It might be deeper than the conference has ever seen. All five of them are capable of scoring at the conference meet.”

Jumps

Central boats a trio of national qualifiers in the jumping events, including 2021 outdoor All-American Brock Lewis. Brock finished sixth in the long jump and also has a trio of conference titles in the triple jump.

Drake Lewis earned All-American honors outdoors in 2019 by finishing eighth in the high jump. He’s won three conference titles and has a career-high clearance of 6 feet, 10.5 inches indoors.

“They’re both so naturally talented,” Sturman said. “They’re tall, they’re long and they’re fast. They’re motivated to do the little things to make sure they are getting better and staying healthy. Hopefully, it will be a real special year for both.”

Both brothers were also given All-American accolades for the 2020 indoor season in which the national meet was cancelled and all qualifiers were named All-Americans.

Sam Beatty (junior, Mount Pleasant) was an outdoor qualifier in the high jump, placing 13th. The junior will join the team again after basketball season.

“He could show up and within a week clear 6-5 or 6-6,” Sturman said. “He got a taste of nationals last year. He knows what the meet atmosphere is like now so being an All-American will he his focus this year.”

The multi-event crew could add some depth in the jumping events as well, especially Klein in the pole vault.

Throws

Senior Theo Baldus (St. Ansgar) showed his versatility in 2021, scoring at indoor conference in the shot put and weight throw before adding points outdoors in the discus throw. Thomas Spoehr (senior, Bennington, Neb.) had continued to improve after playing basketball at the start of his career and can score points at the conference meets in shot put and discus throw.

“We’re going to lean on those two guys,” Sturman said. “They’ll be able to make a name for themselves.”

Primarily competing during the outdoor season, Luke Pavlat (senior, Pella) is a javelin throwing specialist who can also contest the hammer and weight throws.

Martin Vineyard (junior, Farmington, Central Lee) and Trevor Glockel (sophomore, Malvern, East Mills HS) will also compete in a variety of implements.

Middle-distance and distance

The defending conference champion and a returning national qualifier in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Silver headlines a strong crop of distance runners for the Dutch. Both Silver and DeHaan for the national cross country meet in the fall.

“Our distance crew finished the cross country pretty strong,” Sturman said. “It’s great having Caleb back after qualifying for national meets and Will is also one of our top runners.”

Noah Jorgenson (sophomore, Sidney) was fourth in the conference in the 800 meters indoors and eighth outdoors last year and along with DeHaan, Jack Sagan (senior, Riverside, Ill., Riverside-Brookfield HS) and Adam Sylvia (junior, Rochester, Mass., Old Rochester HS) took fifth on the 4x800-meter relay team.

“We’re hoping Noah can reach his goal of qualifying for nationals,” Sturman said.

Letterwinners like Cutler Owens (senior, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS), Easton Sabala (senior, Wheatland, Mo., Hermitage HS), Thatcher Krob (senior, Lisbon), Jack Orengo (junior, Naperville, Neuqua Valley HS) and Jacob Sanders (junior, Nevada) bring veteran options across the events 800 meters and longer. They are also bolstered by nine freshman distance runners.

“A lot of our freshmen are really good mid-distance runners,” Sturman said.

Sprints

Joe Stein (sophomore, Milford, Spirit Lake HS) burst onto the scene as a freshman, taking second in the 60-meter dash at the league’s indoor championships. He was also a top-eight finisher in the 100 and 200 meters outdoors.

“Joe was just off his PR in the 60 at his first meet so we’re happy with where he is at already,” Sturman said.

Nolan Reynolds (junior, Montezuma) had a breakout season outdoors, racing to a third-place finish in the 400-meter dash at the outdoor conference meet.

Carter Tryon (senior, Winterset), Alec Stahl (senior, Steamboat Rock, AGWSR HS) and Grant Boyse (junior, Wellman, Mid-Prairie HS) are also longer sprinters and plausible participants in relays.

“We've added enough depth where we can really contend at the conference meet,” Sturman said. “We should be able to fill up some events, put together some good relays again.”

JD Elefson (freshman, Ankeny, North Polk HS) will split time between baseball and track and field but is also expected to be a factor in the sprints.

Hurdles

The multi-event crew will be key to the hurdle events, especially Heitz and Pakkebier. Drake Lewis is also a capable hurdler. Connor Miklos (sophomore, Lockport, Ill., Providence Catholic HS) is the lone hurdles only athlete on the roster.

Tryon and Brayden Harris (sophomore, Eldora, South Hardin HS) will run the 400-meter hurdles during the outdoor season, Tryon finished fifth at conference in 2021.

The Dutch get their first action of 2022 at the Dutch Early Bird Pentathlon on Friday, Jan. 14 and the Dutch Athletics Classic on Saturday, Jan. 15.

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