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Mississippi College Indoor Track Competes in Nationals
Nine Choctaws travel to Virginia Beach for championships
Mississippi College’s track team has had a great year. Over spring break, a few athletes on the track team advanced to Indoor Nationals in Virginia Beach. Mississippi College had nine athletes competing, the most they have taken in many years.
One athlete that advanced was sophomore Christian Balcer. Balcer represented Mississippi College alongside Cole Benoit, Connor Stewart, and Hunter Kurz in the Distance Medley Relay. This was Balcer’s third nationals. He previously competed in two cross country nationals. Indoor track, Balcer says, is the hardest to qualify for due to the season being so short that it can be hard to get a good time. Time qualification is the way to make it to nationals. Indoor nationals takes 12 relay teams and 18-20 athletes per event.Balcer ran the 800 leg of the distance medley. The distance medley is composed of a 400, a 1200, an 800, and a 1600. “The event is very chaotic, so there is a lot of stress going into the race, especially as you’re waiting for the baton toward the end,” he said.
“It's a national championship, so the whole building is just roaring—especially leading up to the end of the race. I like to think that all the people I’m racing against are doing something big for their team. It was just like cool, and you can’t explain it unless you watch it or you’re there. It’s just electric.”
Balcer contributed his success to God, his coaches and parents, and the culture of the team. “I like to think the way we treat each other helps in our success. It was a great way to end the season. I’m just glad when it came down to it I was able to perform and be there for my team, because it was a great thing to share with them.”
Benoit, another member of the medley, also ran the 3000 meter race at nationals. He competed them on two separate days, and the experience seemed to mean a lot to the redshirt Junior.
Indoor track is different from outdoor track due to the extreme proximity difference provided. Benoit described the quarters as close, but in a good way. “It’s a really big family event.”
Benoit has chased the all-American honors going on four years. “I have been chasing this since before I came to college. It was fun to get that with my team—those four guys. When you run a relay you’re running for your brothers and you are running together.”
Benoit also emphasized all the work he has put in and how he and his teammates have been working together every step of the way. “Dedication – running just takes a lot of hours to be successful. Dedication to the work. Running is hard and you have a lot of guys that have the same goal. It just makes it easier. Having my teammates around me is a big part of my success.”
The team has little time to rest, however, as they are moving straight into track and field. Benoit says that he is trying to use all of the excitement and adrenaline from nationals in order to fuel his training for the next season.
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