Pole vaulter Zach Elmore and 800-Meter Runner Owen Ljung Claim MIAA Indoor Titles

Zach Elmore poses for a portrait. Owen Ljung poses for a headshot by Lenny Padilla

Owen Ljung wasn't thrilled with having to run the 800 meters in the slowest heat on Saturday.

Yet, the Hope College senior from Sonoma, Calif. (Sonoma Valley HS) made the most of it. Ljung won the event by almost a full second in 1:56.83.

"It was a great race," Hope coach Kevin Cole said. "He didn't have a time going in, so he had to go in the slowest heat. There were only three other guys in the heat, but he won anyway."

The Flying Dutchmen finished in third place with 83.5 points on Saturday at the MIAA Indoor Track & Field Championships, which were hosted by Trine University. Trine won with a 150.50 points and Calvin University was second with 135.

"I thought we had a really great meet," Cole said. "I thought we could finish as high as third or as low as fifth, so I'm very happy with third place."

Hope won two events. Ljung's win in the 800 and a victory in the pole vault by a Zach Elmore, a freshman from Cadillac, Michigan (Cadillac). It is the first time Hope has won the pole vault during the indoor season.

"He's a very good pole vaulter," Cole said of Elmore. "It is nice to see him win today. I thought all of our vaulters did well today. It's becoming a strength for us."

Elmore took first with a leap of 4.35 meters (14 feet, 3 inches). Teammate Barry Bait of Granville, Ohio (Granville) finished tied for fifth with a vault of 3.95 meters (12-11 ½). 

Cole said one of the highlights of the meet was seeing senior sprinter Korey Derr of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Northview) set a personal best in the 60 meter dash.

"Korey has really wanted to break seven seconds and he did that today," Cole said. "It was a PR for him and he was very excited about that."

Derr finished in second place with a time of 6.98 seconds. The school record is 6.91 by Justin Freeman last year.

Nick Hoffman, a sophomore from Holland, Michigan (Holland), was in one of the most exciting finishes of the day.

Hoffman was edged out at the finish line in the mile, as he finished in second with a time of 4:23.67. Calvin's Tyler Johnson won in 4:23.61.

"That was really close, actually," Cole said. "There was a sprint at the end, and he got out-leaned at the end. Nick's had a really strong season. It will be good to see what he will do during the outdoor season."

Hope's Zackary Murphy, a junior from Coldwater, Michigan (Coldwater HS), finished sixth in the mile in 4:36.25.

The Flying Dutchmen also had a third-place finish in the distance medley relay with a time of 10:49.25. That team includes Anders Bogard of Mattawan, Michigan (Kalamazoo Christian), Jonathan Outen of Hackensack, N.J. (Hackensack), Maxwell Gutwein of Westfield, Indiana (Westfield), and Aidan Jones of West Olive, Michigan (Black River).

"It's a bit of a game trying to figure out who to put in there," Cole said. "But that was a young group that ran really well."

In the final event of the day, the Flying Dutchmen took third in the 4x400 meter relay in 3:26.34 with a team of Drew Dow of Bridgman, Michigan (Bridgman), Ljung, Nathan Woolum of Mattawan, Michigan (Mattawan) and Ty Hergenreder of Davison, Michigan (Goodrich).

Hergenreder also finished third in the 800 with a time of 1:57.92.