by Alan Babbitt
Mitchel Achien'g went from a track & field novice to a Hope College record-setter and the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association's best in a short period of a time.
The junior from Nairobi, Kenya (Kisumu HS) has been named the MIAA's 2019 Most Valuable Women's Indoor Field Athlete by the league's coaches.
Photo of Mitchel Achien'g, left, by Steven Herppich
Achien'g co-headlines a 2019 All-MIAA Women's Indoor Track & Field Team along with the Track Athlete of the Year, Trine University's Evonne Bultemeyer.
MIAA coaches vote on the Most Valuable Athletes. All-MIAA honors are awarded to those who win events at the conference championships.
"Mitchel has been a great addition to the team for her three years," Cole said. "She had never participated in track and field before coming to America but wanted to be part of a team. She loves to learn new events and to work hard, so we started working on the heptathlon with her last year. She became very good at a lot of events very quickly."
The 4x400 relay of junior Nicole Kruithof of Byron Center, Michigan (South Christian), senior Allison VanderStoep of Holland, Michigan (West Ottawa), junior Sally Hansma of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Jenison) and junior Chelsea Miskelley of Holland, Michigan (Black River).
The distance medley relay of senior Avery Lowe of North Muskegon, Michigan (North Muskegon), Miskelley, junior Hannah Kenny of Grand Haven, Michigan (Grand Haven) and junior Kelly Peregrine of Traverse City, Michigan (T.C. Central).
In her first triple jump competition, Achien'g won the event with a school-record leap of 10.75 meters (35 feet 3 ¼ inches).
Achien'g also finished third in the long jump with a season-best leap of 5.30 meters (17-4 ¾) and fourth in the fourth in the 60-meter hurdles with a season-best time of 9.77 seconds.
"On the Wednesday before the league meet this year, she asked if she could try the triple jump at conference, even though she hadn't done that event yet," Cole said. "I was reluctant but with her background decided to take a chance since I had a spot open. She rewarded me by winning the event at the meet and breaking our school record. She also had personal records in the long jump and in the 60m hurdles at the meet."