Indoor track sparks all stars

Aiden Lewald, Sports Reporter

Minnesota indoor Track and Field speed ran into full force on the new year. On the week of Jan. 17, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) held great news for Hamline athletics. Senior Jen Valley and junior Michael Braun were named women and men’s indoor track Athletes of the Week. 

Valley opened the season with a win, placing first in the long jump at the St. Thomas Invitational with a score of 5.33 m. Not only did this distance provide success locally, but also ranked her 33 in the NCAA Division III for long jump.

As this is Valley’s last season jumping, her main goal is to have fun. Even when she is having a tough meet, she puts those feelings aside and focuses on enjoying her time. 

“I actually don’t really focus on anyone else besides just when I’m there, it’s really just like me and myself,” Valley said. 

 Valley describes tournaments as intense, but exciting. She is able to dive right into the running mindset, where she focuses on her intuition in the jumps rather than overthinking about the process.

Comparably, Braun started off his season strong in setting a new personal record at the St. Thomas Invitational. Not only did his 1.92 m high jump place him third at the invite, but it also placed him first for high jump in the MIAC.

Braun’s friends, such as first years Iain Lee and Elijah Craft-Baidoo, describe him as being explosive, fast and a leader in the world of Hamline men’s track.

In the rest of the 2023 season, Braun hopes to obtain more personal records and aims high to qualify for nationals. 

Neither of these talented athletes can achieve these goals without a proper support system. Due to the physical and mental strength needed for this support, athletes are at a risk of getting into a rut and burning out of a sport they once loved. 

Thankfully for Hamline track and field athletes, they have been gifted with a coach who values their mental and physical health. 

“If it wasn’t for [Tackmann], I probably wouldn’t still be running,” Valley said, “because it’s such a mental sport.”

Vaughn Tackmanm is the Women’s Track and Field head coach and coaches all of the men’s  and women’s sprints, jumps and hurdle events. 

Tackmann is a firm believer in the idea that being a coach is much more than roster management, administrative tasks and preparing training. 

“If you trust the person who is giving you the training and you believe in what you are doing,” Tackmann said, “that self belief and understanding of what’s going on and what’s behind all that [training] can help you get to the next level.” 

According to Braun, one key to Tackmann’s success in training is his flexibility. When student athletes such as Braun have something outside of track, Tackmann grants them the flexibility to change practice times or readjust. 

“If I can [be] a part of that support system and help you through some of those things that you’re dealing with, that’s what I’m here for,” Tackmann said. 

Hamline hosts two invitationals this season, the Hamline Invitationals and Hamline Meet of the Unsanity. 

Tackmann encourages Hamline students to attend track meets to support their fellow Pipers.  Support comes from both within and outside of the track and field world.