In 13 of the last 14 springs, Larry Cole has guided the Rose-Hulman men's track and field team to the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference outdoor championship.
The only year that the Engineers didn't win it? That was 2020, of course, when COVID-19 put collegiate athletics in a virtual chokehold and there was no meet.
In 2021, however, Cole's Engineers accomplished No. 13 on a windy Saturday at Rose's William Welch Complex when they rallied from a Day 1 deficit Friday to defeat runner-up Manchester 210.5-161 in the 10-team meet.
"Manchester had a seven-point lead on us after Day 1," Cole reminded the Tribune-Star. "But we qualified three guys for almost every event on Friday [for Saturday's running finals]. Like always with us, it's a team effort."
Perhaps more impressive was that the Rose-Hulman women — also coached by Cole — captured the HCAC team crown for only the second time ever, outpointing runner-up Manchester 215-147. The other year for its outdoor women's championship was 2018.
Individual champions for the Rose men this weekend were senior Mikey Holtz in the pole vault (12 feet, 6 1/4 inches), sophomore Timothy Youndt in the triple jump (43-3 3/4), senior Noah Thomas in the 100-meter dash (10.91 seconds) and freshman Jacob Eve in the 400 meters (50.18) along with their 400 and 1,600 relay foursomes. Thomas, a football standout who missed the last three games of the recently completed spring season with an injury, anchored the Engineers' 400 relay squad and Eve ran the second leg for their 1,600 relay squad.
"A lot of years, we don't win many individual titles," Cole pointed out. "But we just keep pounding and we keep scoring. Our goal, as a team, is to try and score 12 points in every event. If we do that, we're going to win [the team title] pretty easily."
The 400 was an example of the men's balance as Eve was trailed closely by teammates Jacob Bird (third in 51.03) and Raymond Bates (fifth in 52.45). Eve, Bird and Bates accounted for 20 points in that one event for Cole's Engineers.
Finishing first for the Rose-Hulman women were sophomore Nosa Igiehon in the triple jump (36-3 1/2), high jump (5-5) and 100 hurdles (15.24) and senior Maggie Sheerin in the 3,000 steeplechase (12:29.65) along with their 1,600 relay crew.
"That [women's championship] was a team effort as well," Cole emphasized, adding that six of his female athletes who contributed late in the season also played on the women's soccer team. "Our women have gotten better and better and better the last few years. . . . That was a balanced effort too. Anytime you score over 200 points in an invitational or a track meet, you've got to have good team depth. We have some outstanding individuals. Don't get me wrong. But from top to bottom, it was just a total team effort.
"I'm just really proud of all of our men and women. . . . I'm really proud of our kids through this whole COVID thing. From Jan. 5 through May 1 [Saturday], we have not had one positive COVID case. You're talking about a roster of over 90 men and women."
The season is essentially done for both Rose teams, although Cole indicated a few individuals may enter some invitationals this month.