The MSOE men's track & field team will be young and deep in 2018, as 17-of-35 members of the roster will be newcomers this season.
Head coach Larry Gardner does have veteran leadership returning, however, so he is confident that the new faces will acclimate to collegiate competition and start contributing right out of the gate.
Much of the depth and experience comes in the middle distance and distance events where several members of the group are coming off strong showings in cross country in the fall.
Sophomore Nick Bath took a big step forward in cross country, posting the third-best 8000m time ever in repeating on the All-NACC Team. Gardner will look for him to carry that success over into track & field, where he focused on longer distances, taking seventh in the 5000m and ninth in the 10,000m at the NACC Outdoor Championships last season.
Senior Trey Horbinski rounded out his career with a fourth all-league award in cross country and is also among the program's elite. He is another that will look to carry over his success from the fall into a strong start to the track season as he posted a career-best time in his final race. In track, he's run both middle and longer distances, scoring in the 1500m in fifth place and finishing as runner-up in the 3000m steeplechase at the league championships.
Seniors Tripp Horbinski was another scorer in the steeplechase for the Raiders, taking fifth, but, unlike his brother, Tripp favors the longer distances. He also competed at the conference meet in the 5000m last season.
Senior Jon Ashley and sophomores Blake Bostwick and Hagen Opitz focused on the middle distances last season. Ashley ran the mile indoors and 800m outdoor, while Bostwick ran the 800m indoors and both the 400m and 800m at the outdoor meet. He is coming off a fall in which he took a big step forward within the team and could be another candidate to carry that success into the track season. Opitz ran with Ashley in the mile and 800m events.
Rounding out the returning distance group are seniors Hail Kazik and Daniel Gardner, junior Kenny Holbrook, and sophomores Nathan Arrigoni and Noah Vaculik. Kazik scored in the indoor 5000m in eighth place last season and ran in the 10,000m outdoors. Gardner and Holbrook focused on the 1500m. Arrigoni ran in the mile indoors and 5000m outdoors as Vaculik went the other way for the indoor 3000m and outdoor 1500m.
MSOE could have some interesting internal competition in some field events, as a pair of strong pole vaulters and three throwers all return.
Arguably, the most accomplished returner is senior Conner Enciso, who is a two-time conference champion in the pole vault. He claimed titles indoors in 2015 and again at the 2016 outdoor meet. He's a perennial scorer who will look to improve on a sixth-place showing indoors last season. Sophomore Daniel Morton, meanwhile, has not competed since a strong showing as a rookie in the 2016 indoor season.
In the throws, a trio of sophomores return in Derek Schrimpf, Brandon DeMille, and Nathaniel Barry. Schrimpf peaked at the right time last season in the discus, scoring in eighth at the league meet, but also put together a strong league performance in the javelin. DeMille got better as the season went on, as well, taking 12th in the discus and 16th in the javelin. Barry competed indoors and got some key experience in both throwing events during the season.
Junior McCoy Swanson and sophomore Owen Liebelt also return this season. Both compete in sprints and the horizontal jumps, with Swanson picking up valuable experience in the long jump at the league championships. He also ran the gamut of sprint events, competing up through the 400m during the season. Liebelt did not compete at the league championships but ran up to the 200m and competed in the long jump during the regular season in 2017.