By Lenny Padilla
GRAND RAPIDS — The steeplechase can be a tricky event in track and field. Leaping over barriers and into a pit of water while dodging competitors can lead to ugly spills. But none of that crosses Erin Herrmann's mind.
"I try not to think about that," the Hope College senior from Wheaton, Illinois (Wheaton-Warrenville South HS) said with a laugh. "Really, I'm just focused about going hard in and out of each of the barriers and into the pit. So I try to think about that instead of the idea of me face planting."
Herrmann won the steeplechase for the third year in a row on Friday at the MIAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, hosted by Calvin College.
The Flying Dutch finished in second place with 166.50 points. Calvin College won with 215 points.
"Taking second has sort of been a habit of ours," Hope coach Kevin Cole said. "We made a pretty good push at Calvin. Part of that is that the other teams in the conference keep getting stronger. It's becoming more competitive every year. It's fun, but it makes things a little more intense."
The nation's fastest steeplechase runner, Herrmann finished in 11 minutes, 6.58 seconds, which easily outdistanced her competitors.
"It's about 40 seconds off," she said of her PR. "The goal today was to go for place, not for time."
It was a big day for Rachel Satkiewicz, despite battling injuries. The junior from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (Seaholm HS) won the 400 meters in 58.04 seconds, helped Hope win the 4x400 relay and finished in eighth in the 200 meters (27.07).
"It was a tough race and it's a windy day," she said of winning the 800. "So that's pretty good."
Satkiewicz said her Achilles was acting up in the 200.
"I don't know what place I finished in," she said. "My tendon was kinda bugging me. But just making it to the finals made me really happy."
Hope won the 4x400 meter relay with the team of Chelsea Miskelley of Holland, Michigan (Black River), Rachael Webb of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Grandville), Herrmann and Satkiewicz with a time of 4:00.72.
It was almost a photo finish in the 800 meters. Webb, pictured above, narrowly beat Herrmann with a time of 2:17.21. Herrmann crossed at 2:17.72.
"We had so many events that we scored a lot of points," Cole said. "The 800 … we had four women on the stand. Rachel and Rachael winning the 400 and the 800. Erin, as always in the steeplechase. We have severally really strong athletes at the top, but we also have some really good, young role players that are picking up points."
There were also two other Hope finishers in the 800 as Miskelley finished fifth in 2:21.72 and Alexis Guttilla of St. Charles, Illinois (Westminster Christian) was sixth in 2:22.91.
In the 4x100, the Flying Dutch finished fourth with a team of Hannah Huizen of Jenison, Michigan (Jenison), Rachel Anderson of Muskegon, Michigan (Mona Shores), Jessica Korte of Washington, Michigan (Cairo American) and Satkiewicz in 50.88.
The 400-meter hurdles was a big event for the Flying Dutch, placing four runners. Sierra Schultz of Kellogg, Iowa (Grinnell Community) took third in 1:05.41, Hailey Pickelheimer of Powell, Ohio (Olentangy Liberty) was fourth in 1:08.10, Alison Rich of Haslett, Michigan (Haslett) was fifth in 1:08.70 and Allison VanderStoep of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa) was seventh in 1:14.18.
Rich finished second in the high jump with a leap of 5-1 1/4 feet. Addyson Gerig of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa) tied for seventh at 4-07.
Haley Fischman of Grand Ledge, Michigan (Lansing Catholic Central) wasn't healthy coming into this week. But she sure looked strong jumping up onto the podium.
Fischman finished third in the discus with a throw of 123-0 feet and third in the javelin, with a toss of 116-9.
"I'm just lucky to be throwing because I was injured," said Fischman, who was battling a hip flexor. "I hadn't competed in the past three weeks. So I was just happy to be throwing again."
So how did Fischman prepare for the MIAA Championships?
"I practiced once last week and re-injured myself," she said. "Then (on Wednesday) I took a couple of power throws."
Fischman finished behind Calvin's Michaela Meckes in the discus, who won the event three years in a row. Fischman was second her freshman year and third last year.
"It is, but she's good competition and she's awesome to be with," Fischman said. "So that makes me push myself."
In the 5,000 meters, Emily Hamilton of Naperville, Illinois (Naperville North) led four Hope finishers in 18:13.40. Jessica Gaines of Sterling Heights, Michigan (Utica Academy) was fourth in 18:22.52, Avery Lowe of North Muskegon, Michigan (North Muskegon) was sixth in 18:39.32 and Emily Joosse of Chillicothe, Ohio (Zane Trace) was eighth in 18:46.50.
In the long jump, Mitchel Achieng of Nairobi, Kenya (Kisumu) had a leap of 16-08.75 for fifth place and Miskelley was seventh (16-03.75).
Other top-eight finishers were: Sarah Murphy of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Forest Hills Northern) fifth in the high jump at 10-4, Rachel Alfond of Snohomish, Washington (Archbishop Murphy) sixth in the shot put at 30-4 3/4, Rich seventh in the 100 hurdles in 16.04, Kruithof sixth in the 400 in 1:01.64, Huizen seventh in the 100 meters in 12.96, and Sally Hansma of Jenison, Michigan (Jenison) eighth in the pole vault in 9-02.25.