Written by Spencer Aiello // Photo by Balazs Balassa
The Harding men’s track and field team is continuing to dominate after returning from the Washburn Open Feb. 3-4 and the Eighth Annual Indoor Gorilla Classic last Saturday, where school and personal records were broken by many of the athletes.
The Washburn Open in Topeka, Kansas, marked the start of this continuing streak of excellence, with many of the athletes ranking in the top 10 of Division II nationally and continuing to break school records along the way.
The Gorilla Classic in Pittsburg, Kansas, followed up with more records being broken and more athletes ranking in the top of Division II nationally.
Junior Tad Kirby broke his own school record at the Gorilla Classic Saturday with a time of 21.82 seconds in the 200 meters event, breaking the previous record set earlier this season at 21.98 seconds.
Freshman Vlad Malykhin also broke a Harding record in the pole vault when he cleared a provisional height of 5.32 meters (17 feet and 5.5 inches) at the Gorilla Classic, passing the record previously held by NCAA national champion Dorian Chaigneau at 17 feet and 2.75 inches.
This record-breaking performance ranks Malykhin second nationally in Division II this season.
Sophomore Antiwain Jones broke a 34-year-old Harding high jump record at the Washburn Open when he cleared an NCAA provisional height of 2.12 meters (6 feet and 11.50 inches), which broke the Harding record set by Hall of Famer Te Howard in 1989.
The height of the jump ranked Jones in a tie for eighth nationally among other NCAA Division II high jumpers.
Jones shared what he thought when he broke the record.
“It just felt good in general, because I’ve been working to do better than what my [personal record] was,” Jones said.
Jones expressed his gratitude to men’s track and field coach Don Hood.
“He’s been a great coach this year,” Jones said. “Whenever I’m feeling down, he just has some encouraging words every single time.”
Junior Dakarai Bush also broke a Harding record in the 400 meters at the Gorilla Classic when he finished with a provisional time of 47.30 seconds, the previous record having been set by Tyler Kemmerer in 2004 with a provisional time of 47.62 seconds.
This placed Bush with the second-fastest time in Division II nationally this season.
Bush shared what has motivated him to do well this year and keep him going into these competitions.
“Just being on the team and having guys around me,” Bush said. “That’s the only thing that drives me right now.”
Sophomore Luke Walling broke his indoor personal record at the Washburn Open when he finished the 5,000 meters with a time of 15:07.57. This time placed him ninth at the open.
Walling shared what this meant to him and how it will help him going forward into the season.
“It was exciting for sure,” Walling said. “Indoor is just kind of the opener for outdoor, so it just kind of gets you excited.”