At last season's Northwest Conference Championships, Lewis & Clark's Kodie Artner claimed the title in the 110-meter hurdles with personal-best time of 14.90. The twice-named 2015 NWC Student-Athlete of the Week will attempt to repeat, but would get to do so on his home track, as the Pioneers will host this year's NWC Championships on Apr. 23-24.
Artner (pictured below right) is expected to be Lewis & Clark's top returning men's track athlete, almost qualifying for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships after finishing 19th in the nation in the 60-meter hurdles over the last two months. The top 16 qualified for nationals.
Meanwhile, Deion Mock leads the men's field athletes after breaking a 42-year-old school record with his pole vault mark of 15-02.25 (4.63 meters) at last year's Linfield Twilight. Since practice began earlier in the semester, Mock has been able to vault at the same height, working to improve upon his fourth place finish at the conference meet last season.
On the women's side, Emily Thompson (pictured bottom right) will compete after missing her junior season while studying overseas in 2015. The now senior holds the Lewis & Clark record in the 400-meter hurdles when she ran 63.91 during her sophomore season.
Fellow seniors Jeanie Mullins and Sarah Schoville will compete alongside Thompson in the sprints and hurdles. Mullins made the finals at last year's conference meet, while Schoville returns to competition in the hurdles and relays after studying overseas last year.
Taylor Hudson will throw the javelin for the Pioneers as a senior, while Aviva Browning, Angie Epifano and Ashley Wamboldt will run in distance races. Browning will also compete in the steeplechase.
The men's senior class includes several distance competitors as well, with Bobby Brandt, Nick Ellis and Evan Gamza running the longer races. Erich Roepke returns from overseas to throw again for the Pios. As a freshman, he set the school record in the javelin with a heave of 198-01.
Colin Brown is the Pioneers lone academic junior (Artner is a senior, but in his junior season of eligibility), and will race sprints and relays, with the 200 meters expected to be one of his best races.
Along with distance runners Frances Swanson, who is a steeplechase competitor too, and Madison Sullivan, the women's junior class includes sprinters Katie Kowal and Marissa Sandgren. Kowal was the Pios' fastest performer last year, and will carry a lot of importance in Lewis & Clark's relays. Sandgren has improved since she competed two years ago. Sarah Bucknovitz will throw discus and hammer after strengthening herself in the weight room this offseason. She's returning from an injury, and is expected to be a scoring position threat in the conference.
Tatyana Benko switched to the pole vault during the last two weeks of her freshman season, and as a sophomore this year, has improved her technique. Rachel Stone is a sophomore hurdler, who will compete alongside sprinter classmate Renee D'Espyne. Stone made the conference final in the 400 meters last year, and is expected to improve this season. Kori Groenveld leads a pack of sophomore distance runners, which includes Amelia Jackson and Elisabeth (Boo) Kirkwood. Groenveld was sixth at last year's NWC Championships, and is expected to improve, while Jackson and Kirkwood are in position to drop times this season. Kirkwood will also compete in javelin.
The men's sophomores include thrower Walter Cardillo, jumper David Lovitz and distance runners Jeff Mullins, Ivan Ramos-King, George Shoemaker and Blake Slattengren. Mullins and Slattengren are off successful cross country seasons where both made the West Region field. Shoemaker returns to compete in the steeplechase, and if he remains healthy, should be among the top of the conference.
Freshman Noah Avery will compete in multiple field events, while also trying the decathlon. His best events are expected to be the high jump, long jump, shot put and javelin. Bryce Johnson (pictured right) and Marquis Stepteau are fellow first-year football crossovers, with Johnson showing nicely during the indoor season. The high jumper should also be a top sprinter in the 200 and 400 meters. Ryan Nguyen and Conor Sandoval will compete in the longer races.
Chase Hagar has conference-contending potential as she works back from an injury. She'll race the 400, while competing in the sprints and jumps as well. Alaina King and Rochelle Locey bring high school personal bests that will put them in contention against the conference sprinters. Locey is a jumper as well, the same mix as fellow freshman Kara Marler. Portland-native Ty Marshall, along with Chrislyn DeMattos from Hawaii, are slated to be jumpers. Classmates Katie Hull and Rachel Seagren will compete in distance events and pole vault, respectively. Like King and Locey, Seagren had a high school mark that makes her a threat in conference.
After an indoor season schedule that included High Performance meets at Nike's House of Track, the outdoor season starts on Saturday in Tacoma, Wash. at the Puget Sound Quad. Lewis & Clark will have one more road competition, the Pacific Preview on Mar. 12, before hosting the Spring Break Open on Mar. 18-19.
Following the Pacific Multi during spring break week, the Pioneers will take part in the Willamette Invite the following weekend.
Three more April meets hosted by conference schools - the Anderson Invite at Linfield, the Geroge Fox Invite and the Pacific Invite - lead to the Northwest Conference Championships on Apr. 22-23 at Lewis & Clark.