With the spring sports season just about wrapped up, we will be taking a closer look at Muhlenberg’s senior student-athletes.
We conclude the senior profiles series with Part One of men’s and women’s track and field, which competed at the Centennial Conference Championships in early May.
How did you get into pole vaulting? I wanted to try pole vaulting when I first started track my junior year of high school, because my dad was a pole vaulter when he was in high school. He actually held the pole vault record at my high school, and it wasn’t broken until I started track when my teammate broke it. My grandmother was also a pole vaulter when she was in high school too, so the event just ran in my family. The first day I tried it, I knew that that was the event I wanted to do.
What’s your most memorable Muhlenberg track and field memory? One of my most memorable track memories was when I lucked out at the outdoor conference meet my freshman year. The weather was pretty bad the day we pole vaulted at F&M, but we started to compete outdoors anyway. I didn’t have a very good day and got out pretty early on. But then they postponed the meet for a couple hours to try and wait out the storm. After a few hours went by, they decided to move the pole vault into their indoor facilities. So much time had passed since we had stopped pole vaulting that the decision was made to start the competition all over again. That time I advanced farther than I had when we were outdoors and actually tied for eighth place to earn the team a half point. I was really lucky that that happened.
What are your future plans? For now I’m moving back home to work and save money to eventually go back to school. The plan right now is to go to grad school for school counseling, preferably in elementary education.
What kind of person is Kimberlee Yalango? Well, for one thing she’s the reason I was on the track team here. We met each other the first weekend of our freshmen year and figured out that we were both thinking about being on the team but weren’t completely committed to it. We decided to try it out together, and now here we are years later. She’s been an amazing leader for our team, as well as an amazing friend to everyone. She’s been completely dedicated to the team all of our four years here, and that really shows on and off the track. It’s an understatement to say that the team will be sad to see her graduate. Kim is my teammate, bus buddy, roommate, best friend and a person that I honestly could not imagine my college experience without.
How fulfilling was it winning your first Centennial Conference gold medal with the indoor 4×800 relay this year? That was without a doubt the highlight of my track and field career because the 4×800 has always been my favorite race. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to place in a conference meet, especially with the incredible relay team I was placed on. It was extremely fulfilling since the gold got snagged from us at the previous outdoor championships during my anchor leg, and I had never really forgiven myself for it. The gold in indoors was definitely redemption for all of us, and I’m so grateful I got to enjoy that moment with my teammates and end my career at conference meets on such a high note.
What’s your most memorable Muhlenberg track and field memory? I think my most memorable track memory would be winning that 4×800 relay or going to the last chance meet at the Armory my sophomore year with the “Candy Sisters” of Alex Faust, Jen Lynch and Nicolette Miller to run the distance medley relay. While we broke the school record in a race with only one other team, the laughs and bonding from that trip were my favorite part, and we still reminisce about it to this day. I’ll make note though that the DMR school record we broke that year got smashed this year by a relay team of extremely talented athletes that you can expect a lot more from in the upcoming years.
What are your future plans? I am moving down to North Carolina and attending Wake Forest University in the fall for my Master’s in Counseling.
What kind of person is Mellissa Miller? Melissa’s athletic career truly defines the type of person that she is. She has gone through more setbacks than anyone I know, including a case of mono, countless injuries, a semester abroad and, most recently, a torn hamstring. She has had to sit out many meets and seasons, and while most people in her shoes would probably just give up and quit the team, she never did. She is an extremely persistent athlete and individual, and she keeps a positive attitude and makes the most of every situation. I know the team will miss her sense of humor and feisty personality. Not only is she my only fellow senior on the team, but she’s also my best friend, my bus buddy, my biggest supporter and the reason I’ve enjoyed the past four years on the track team so incredibly much.
What’s the best part about being a multi-athlete? The variety. I’m always getting to work on something new and try something different. If one event isn’t going well I can channel my frustration into a different event.
What’s your most memorable Muhlenberg track and field memory? Scoring my first points as a sophomore in the high hurdles.
What’s your best off-the-track memory from your time here? The huge blizzard that shut down the school for two days during my sophomore year. That might have been the last snow day I’ll ever have…
What are your future plans? I am attending the University of Pennsylvania medical school, but beyond that I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself working as an oncologist in the future.
What kind of person is David Kurtis? For the past couple of years, Dave has been one of the hardest-working people on the team and a great teammate to hurdle with. I think a lot of people on the team look up to Dave because of how hard he worked to improve in the intermediate hurdles, which paid off when he took home a bronze medal at the last conference meet. I’ll definitely miss questioning him on the utility of Dream Zoo.
Do you have any superstitions or traditions you do before a big meet? I always put on and tie my left shoe before my right. I’ve done that since I started track in middle school.
How does it feel being the school record holder in both the indoor and outdoor triple jump? It’s really an honor. Both records were held for a long time and were pretty far distances. I’m proud to say I’m the school’s record holder in both.
What’s your most memorable Muhlenberg track and field memory? My most memorable moment is a tie between breaking the outdoor record in triple jump and breaking 22 feet in long jump for the first time. They both meant a lot to me.
What’s your best off-the-track memory from your time here? My best off-the-track memory at Muhlenberg was seeing Michael Ingridson live in concert in Memorial Hall.
What are your future plans? I’m not sure right now. Hopefully I get into Drexel’s graduate program.
What’s Michael Baer like as a captain? Baer is a great leader. He’s not that kind of guy who runs around like a cheerleader and tries to motivate his team vocally, but that’s because he doesn’t have to. He recognizes that actions speak louder than words, and his intensity and dedication on the track speaks for him. He leaves everything on the track day in and day out. We were lucky to have him lead us throughout the year.
Do you have any hidden or unusual talents? I can chirp like a cricket.
How did you become a hurdler? As a freshman in high school I wanted to find an event that I could be the best at on my team. Given that there were no other hurdlers at the time, I took advantage of the opportunity. It also afforded me the chance to spend every day at practice with three senior girls.
What’s your most memorable Muhlenberg track and field memory? Placing 3rd in the 400 hurdles at the outdoor conference championship my senior year and setting a new personal best.
What’s your best off-the-track memory from your time here? Seeing Michael Ingridson perform live in Memorial Hall with my buddy Marc Brookland.
What are your future plans? I will be moving to Chicago after graduation to work for Allstate Insurance.
What’s Marc Brookland like away from track? About as much fun as zip lining.