By Lenny Padilla
GRAND RAPIDS - Nick Salomon knows what Hope College track record is in the 800-meter run. He's had his sights set on it for four years.
"My two goals this year are to break Joel's record and make it back to nationals in the 800 again," said Salomon, a native of Troy, Michigan (Detroit Jesuit HS) and pictured at right.
Hope's record in the 800 is 1:50.38, which was set by Joel Rietsema in 2012. Salomon's personal best is a 1:51.1.
One of the first people to congratulate Salomon on winning the 800 on Friday in the MIAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships was Rietsema, who was watching the race near the finish line.
"I'm very grateful that he's so supportive," said Salomon, who won the event for the second year in a row with a time of 1 minute, 54.13 seconds. "He's a great guy. I never got to run with him because I was a senior in high school, and he was a senior in college. Hearing about him and getting to meet him … it's kind of like getting to meet your idol that I never got to see run. I know his times … and getting so close is cool."
The Flying Dutchmen finished in third place with 125 points on Friday. Calvin won the MIAA title with 266 points and Trine was second with 161.
"I am happy with it," Hope coach Kevin Cole said. "I thought we could have finished anywhere from second to fifth. Trine really rose to the occasion in a bunch of events. I thought we battled well, but we just couldn't match them in the field events. Sprints we were close, but they were better than us."
Joshua Izenbart had one of the biggest weekends for the Flying Dutchmen. The freshman from Glenwood, Illinois (Homewood-Flossmoor) won the high jump with a leap of 6 feet, 6 inches. He also helped the 4x100 relay team finish second and was eighth (52.06) in the 800 meters. In the long jump, was also eighth (17-05.25).
It was a strong day for senior Ben Seppa of Jackson, Michigan (Jackson), who was second in the 4x100 relay, third in the 100 (11.24) and third in the 200 (21.78).
Adam Howard of Jacksonville, Illinois (Routt Catholic) had a good day, too. He finished second in the 4x100, fourth in the 100 (11.25) and sixth in the 200 (22.49).
In the 4x100 meter relay, the Flying Dutch team of Justin Freeman of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa), Seppa, Howard and Brandon Wolliston of Remus, Michigan (Chippewa Hills) finished second in 42.19 seconds. Trine was first in 42.05.
The 4x400 relay team of Izenbart, Wolliston, Jones and Salomon were second in 3:21.31. Calvin won in 3:20.11.
In the 400 meters, Wolliston had a third-place finish in 49.40 seconds. Teammate Jordan Corstange of Kalamazoo, Michigan (Kalamazoo Christian) was seventh at 51.19.
In the 400 hurdles, Benjamin Pederson of Mount Prospect, Illinois (Mount Prospect) was fourth in 58.14 seconds and teammate Richard Medina of Bensenville, Illinois (Timothy Christian) was seventh (1:00.31) and Mitchell DePree of Holland, Michigan (Holland Christian) was eighth (1:01.01).
The Flying Dutch had three top finishes in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Pederson took fourth (9:28.24), Tyler Brinks of Commerce Township, Michigan (Walled Lake Northern), was sixth (9:39.63) and Jacob Jensen (Johnston, Iowa) was eighth (9:57.17).
Jake Babb had a strong showing in the shot put. The freshman from Caledonia, Michigan (Caledonia) came fifth with a throw of 43 feet, 10 inches.
"I was hoping to throw a little bit further," Babb said. "But it's a good finish."
In the discus, sophomore Chase Gaca of Kingsley, Michigan (Kingsley Area) finished second with a toss of 119-10. Babb was fifth.
In other field events, Jager Haan of McBain, Michigan (Northern Michigan Christian) was fourth in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 1.25 inches.
Senior David Lunderberg of Grandville, Michigan (Grandville) was the top Hope finisher in the pole vault. He cleared the bar at 13 feet, 5 inches.
Solomon is majoring in business management. He hopes to transfer to Grand Valley State next year to get his MBA. He'd also like to run for the Lakers.
"I'm talking to the coach at Grand Valley," Solomon said of Jerry Baltes. "Because I still have two years of eligibility for indoor. Which is exactly what Joel (Rietsema) did. He said he broke 1:50 in the 800 there, so that's motivation for me."
Cole has been pleased with Solomon's season.
"Nick's doing great," Cole said. "He was a national qualifier last year. I know his goal is to be an All-American this year."