We may be a little bit late to the party, but we at The Oredigger wouldn’t be the student voice of Mines if we left out the track and field records broken last month. The Mines Alumni Classic meet always kicks off the indoor track and field season and on December 5th and 6th. It also means a first (and often lower pressure) chance for tracksters to push themselves to their limit.
Redshirt senior Connor McLean was the story of day two of the meet. McLean finished up the heptathlon, beating the previous program record by 233 points, with a score of 5,591. For those unfamiliar, the heptathlon is the indoor version of the decathlon, where performances in the 60-meter, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60-meter hurdles, pole vault, and 1000-meter events are weighted into a single overall score. For reference, McLean’s mark is (as of the publishing of this issue) still the highest heptathlon score achieved in Division II track this season. At the time of the meet, he also held the highest mark in pole vault, helping lead the men to be ranked 2nd in the nation according to USTFCCCA.
Speaking of pole vault, the Alumni Classic also marked a fantastic start to the career of true freshman vaulter Hannah Miller. Miller, the Cypress, Texas native, has been clearing the crossbar for over five years now. “I started in seventh grade, and I did it because I didn’t want to be in P.E.,” said Miller. “The season was track season, so I did that. I decided that I hated running. All the pole vaulters got to get out of running, so I did pole vault.” It didn’t take long for vaulting to become more than a means of escaping physical education. “I decided after about 8th grade that I actually really liked it,” said Miller “There’s always things to work on and improve in it.”
She got to work in high school and earned her spot in the 2019-20 Mines recruiting class. In her first-ever collegiate meet, she cleared a height of 12’-6”, beating the previous program-best by 5.5 inches. “It felt really nice, and it was really fun,” said Miller. “Having all of my teammates there with me made it really special.” Miller isn’t a stranger to that height though. “I jumped 12’-6” my sophomore year of high school, and have kind of been stuck at it,” she said. That height was good enough for her to earn a bronze medal at the Texas state meet. However, Miller is looking to push the envelope for the rest of the season. “We’ve been working on a lot of new stuff that I’m hoping with result in a height change,” said Miller. “I’m really trying to get to 13’ this season.” A 13-foot jump would likely be enough to send Miller to NCAA nationals.
Just like every other freshman, the transition to Mines (and Colorado as a whole) can be a little challenging sometimes. “I miss my family a lot, that’s probably the biggest struggle. Altitude is very… different,” said Miller, laughing a bit. “That probably took about two weeks to get used to.” But all-in-all, the Texas to Colorado adjustment has gone pretty well, especially with the help of the team. “Our freshman group is awesome, and same with our pole vault group,” said Miller. “We hang out as a team all the time.”
The Oredigger men and women have one more indoor home meet, on January 31th and February 1st, and are looking to put in the work before the conference championships. The RMAC indoor championships in Colorado Springs on February 28th and (yes, it’s a leap year) 29th. “Our team is set up pretty well,” said Miller “I’m really excited to see how all of our freshman girls do.” If all goes according to plan, we may see Miller, McLean, and a host of other Oredigger tracksters representing Mines in Birmingham, Alabama for the NCAA national championships.