Birmingham, Ala. will be the new stomping ground for 12 Hornets in the indoor indoor national championship when they travel to compete this weekend.
“It shows how hard this team has worked over the past six months to get where we need to be as a team at the end of the indoor season,” said Briar Ploude, senior education major and high jumper.
Ploude will join six other men who made the cut to compete at nationals. Fellow high jumper Marcus Calleja, who is ranked 12th in the event, and Ploude, who is ranked first, will jump at 5:15 p.m. Friday. Sprinters Derwin Hall and Vincent Howze will run in the 60 and 200 meter dashes, respectively.
Hurdler Gannon Mack, who won the event at the MIAA Championship, and Andrew Etheridge, also a hurdler, will compete as well.
“At a championship meet like this, rankings and favorites mean nothing – we are just going to do what we have been training to do,” Etheridge, a junior crime and delinquency major, said. “Personally, I plan to walk away with a title and a gold medal around my neck.”
Unlike his five fellow teammates, Payson Maydew is not an upperclassman. The freshman heptathlon athlete finds his way into the national championship ranked 8th in the MIAA after placing 4th in the conference.
“It’s an opportunity that I’m going to hold dear, thanks to my teammates, coaches and God,” Maydew, an accounting major, said. “As far as I see it, we only have four years to have a privilege to compete in college athletics – no time to take it in, but to give it everything you’ve got, which is what I plan to do.”
The women bring a 12th-ranked 4×400 meter relay team that consists of Jackie Jacobs, Lindsay Kunkel, Marquieta Marisette and Peyton Weiss. Marisette also comes in as the 19th ranked 400 meter dash runner. Nikki Wetstein joins the relay girls on the trip for the 60 meter hurdles.
“It’s simple – if we perform the way we know how to and are capable of, then we should finish the highest indoors in ESU history,” Etheridge said.