COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the calendar turned over to 2019, members of Capital University Track & Field knew that the season they had been preparing for for months was just around the corner and a grueling five-month competition season was just days away. Capital’s first taste of action will come just up the road in Westerville in the Otterbein Invite hosted by Otterbein University on Saturday, Jan. 12.
The Crusaders will compete in seven indoor meets, including the Ohio Athletic Conference Indoor Championships, before moving on to the outdoor season.
“Going through testing and things like that, we’re farther along than where we have been in the past,” said fourth-year head coach Hannah Weiss. “Everyone from top to bottom is really working hard and it’s an exciting place to be.”
Distance runners Mackenzie Meyers (Ashville, Ohio/Teays Valley) and Larkin Joseph (New Philadelphia, Ohio/New Philadelphia) are the only two seniors on the women’s team as well, although there are seven accomplished juniors as well.
Do-it-all athlete Taylor Manivanh (Grove City, Ohio/Central Crossing) will compete in her third track season in 2019 after qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in the triple jump and finishing 17th in the nation. She won the OAC title in the triple jump with a program-record mark of 11.75 meters and came in second in the 60-meter dash at the championships as well. Manivanh was also named All-Region by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in the triple jump, long jump and 60-meter dash for her performances during the 2018 indoor season.
“I knew I was going to be better (last year) but I didn’t think I’d do that well,” Manivanh said. “I was so nervous but also really wanted it and it was really satisfying to hit that mark.”
“She’s a very good athlete and she’s a very versatile athlete,” said Weiss. “This year we do want to focus her more specifically on jumps so that when she goes to nationals again she’s going to have a more focused experience when she gets there. Things like the 60-meter, the 200-meter and the 100-meter races all compliment that goal really well.”
Manivanh and fellow junior Olivia Quinter (Fort Loramie, Ohio/Fort Loramie) were also part of the All-OAC 4x200-meter relay that placed third at the conference championship.
“We’re going to have a strong relay team again and team in general just because of the way [last year’s seniors] taught us to be connected,” Quinter said. “Relay teams are not always about the team that’s the fastest but about the team that works the best together.”
Multi athlete Emily Hilt (Delaware, Ohio/Buckeye Valley), who set the program pentathlon record last year as a sophomore with 2,908 points at the Ohio Northern University Last Chance Meet, will be a junior and aiming at higher goals.
On the men’s side, sophomore thrower Josh Miller (Botkins, Ohio/Botkins) is returning after a promising freshman campaign in which he achieved seven top-five finishes and only finished outside of the top-10 once in the shot put. He also recorded the fifth-best shot put throw in program history at the All-Ohio Indoor Championships, a mark of 15.17 meters.
“It was a rough start to the year actually from my perspective but looking back and reflecting over the year, it was definitely a good start (to my career),” Miller said. “I would have liked to see some bigger marks and to have pushed some more boundaries but I think this year with another notch on my belt it’s going to be a great year.”
“I know [Josh] wanted more from last season but he had a very good season,” Weiss added. “His consistency and his training have been really good over the summer so it’s just a matter of making sure that he doesn’t let his goals get in the way of his performance along the way. Josh has a ton of upside. He definitely has all of the right pieces and not just the physical pieces but the mentality for someone to be really good and be good earlier rather than later.”
Miller stated that his goals include hitting the 17-meter mark in the shot put, win the OAC and become an All-American, all things he believes are attainable despite the fact that Miller believes that the conference is as competitive as it has ever been in his events.
Veteran jumper John Seman (Ashland, Ohio/Hillsdale) is one of only three seniors on the roster this season and is the only returning men’s athlete to have earned All-OAC status last year. Seman placed third in the high jump at the OAC Indoor Championships with a personal record-tying leap of 1.91 meters.
“Regardless of what program you’re in or what athletic event you’re in, it’s always shocking to realize that you’re in your last year and that this is the last hurrah and last go-around,” Seman said. “Looking at my start to where I’ve finished, I have definitely seen a positive change in the team from the first few years.”
Joe Maiorana, Impact Action Sports Photography