Minnesota State junior Nathan Hancock had a pretty good Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference multi-event performance the last two days at Bud Myers Field House.
In fact, Hancock performed so well he basically blew off the final 1,000-meter run of the seven-event competition and still won the championship with 5,030 points. The total was slightly less than the one he compiled to win the same multi last season but, considering he had already locked up the championship after Monday afternoon’s pole vault competition, that wasn’t a concern.
“He’s just a very good athlete and he’s better now than he was last year because he’s healthier,” first-year men’s track and field coach Jim Dilling said. “Usually he’s banged up from the football season and it’s hard to get healthy when you’re practicing and competing everyday in track. But he came to us in good shape this year.”
Hancock agreed, saying he felt better before the start of the indoor season than he has in awhile.
“I think I’m stronger and faster,” he said. “My recovery time is quicker, too.”
Hancock opened his defense of the NSIC multi on Sunday by winning the 60-meter dash (7.15), the long jump (21-feet-8), the high jump (6-6.75) and taking second in the shot put (38-4.75). He followed that up Sunday by taking fifth in the 60-meter hurdles (8.81) and reaching a second-place height of 13-3.5 in the pole vault.
Hancock might have been able to go higher in the PV, but pulled himself out of the competition when it became apparent he had already won the multi title. In the final event, the 1,000 meters, he coasted to a seventh-place time of 2:59.40.
The junior might have considered competing full bore on Monday if he hadn’t already met the NCAA Division II automatic qualifying standard earlier this season with a career-best 5,371 points. He was also probably a bit worn out by Monday afternoon.
“He competed in our regular track meet on Saturday so he was a little tired today,” Dilling said. “All he wanted to do here was win the championship; he wasn’t worried about his point total.”
Hancock figures to take this weekend off and then come back strong for the conference meet in Bemidji the following weekend.
“You always want to be performing your best at the end of the season,” Hancock said. “My goals are pretty straight forward. I want to win a national championship and I want to obliterate my school record posted on the wall over there.”
Hancock’s teammate, Benjamin Ojika, finished fourth in the multi Monday with 4,590 points. That gives the Mavericks 15 team points heading into the conference meet in two weeks.
As for Dilling, he’s having a pretty good rookie season as a head coach. The Mavericks are ranked fourth in Division II and he believes a number of his athletes have yet to turn in their peak performances.
“We finished fifth at nationals last year and our goal this season was to get into the Top 4,” he said. “That’s where we’re ranked right now so we’re right where we should be.”