FHSU indoor track and field prepared for another successful season

BY MADISON SHAPLAND

The Fort Hays Track and Field team is looking to have another successful year as the 2023 indoor season is set to begin this week. 

Last year during the 2022 NCAA DII Indoor Championships, the Tigers walked away with an individual national champion, four All-Americans, and six Second Team All-American titles while sending a program record of 10 athletes to the indoor competition. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams also accomplished top team program finishes at the MIAA Indoor Conference Meet, with 5th place titles, three individual champions, and 10 all-MIAA honors. The Tigers were also given seven USTFCCCA Indoor All-Central Region honors. They finished the 2022 indoor season with 11 new school records.

“We have had a lot of success over the past two indoor seasons. This year we have several juniors and seniors on the squad that bring a lot of experience and confidence to our team,” Head Coach Jason McCullough said. “Success is contagious, so we hope to keep the ball rolling. We have finished among the elite teams at our conference meet and I hope to continue to improve off that.”

McCullough is looking to keep and push these standards. In the five years McCullough has headed the track team, he’s sent 18 athletes to nationals, five of which have earned a championship title. He has also had five first-team and six second-team All-American titles. 

“The MIAA conference is one of the strongest in the nation and requires a high level of performance in order to succeed,” McCullough said. “To remain competitive, we need to stay healthy, train and recover properly and have confidence in our abilities. Several student-athletes have captured MIAA titles and scored points for us the past two seasons. We have some high-level student-athletes who can perform with the best of the conference and nation. It gets more competitive every year so we must continue to improve as well.”

The major goal of the track team is to continually improve and to move forward from year to year. Seeing top performers succeed at such a high level while also getting some of the Tigers’ young up-and-coming performers to score points and hit qualifying marks is another hope of McCulloughs.

“I expect a high level of leadership from the upperclassmen and top performers on the squad as well,” McCullough said.

Ryan Stanley, a senior pole vaulter for the Fort Hays track team, is excited to see where this season takes him. As a six-time All-American honoree, Stanley snatched the 2021 NCAA DII Outdoor and 2022 Indoor Men’s Pole Vault titles on top of winning the MIAA Conference competition. 

“I think I’m more energized because of the success I had last season,” Stanley said. “The whole time I’ve been vaulting, I’ve been competing primarily against myself, so the goal this year is to continue that and to beat myself again.” 

Senior sprinter and seven-time All-American Honoree (three first team, four second team) Lyric Holman seeks to make waves at another national appearance. Coming off a high of winning the MIAA Indoor Conference 60m dash, her fourth league title, Holman is looking forward to this indoor season and applying everything she’s been working on and learning.

“I’m looking forward to making it my best season yet,” Holman said. “I’ve been focusing on keeping a positive mindset and running my own race this year. I think that will be key to competing at the national level again.”

Another successful athlete at the indoor level, Matti Rossi is also ready to comete again. Rossi is a six-time All-American honor holder and 2022 Outdoor NCAA DII 400m hurdle runner up On top of racing in the hurdles, Rossi also competes for the Tigers as a heptathlete.

“This is my last year of eligibility, so I’m looking forward to having a successful season and competing with my teammates,” Rossi said. “A big focus for me is to stay healthy, individualize each event and focus on one thing at a time in the heptathlon, and compete all year long.”

Philip Landrum, a senior sprinter for the team, is eyeing success for himself and his teammates this season. As a three time NCAA DII All-American and two-time MIAA Champion, he is determined to use his last year to add to this list of accomplishments.

“It’s going to be exciting seeing our hard work pay off. Being competitive with other teams, especially in our conference, is another thing I’m looking forward to this season,” Landrum said. “Focusing on staying healthy and being competitive with my teammates and looking at the little things that’ll take me further onto the next step will be key this year.”

The Tiger track team will begin their indoor season at the Pittsburg State Boo Rodgers Combined Events meet this Friday and Saturday. 

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