Men’s track and field team secures national championship

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The Bethel men’s track and field team celebrated a national championship win at the 2018 NCCAA National Championship indoor track meet on Feb. 17, their third overall. They also boast 12 All-American athletes and 6 scholar-athletes. Under Natali, both the men’s and women’s track teams have won nine NCCAA national championships altogether, and they have gone to Christian nationals every year. These achievements came despite the track team not actually having their own track to practice on. They have been using the various gyms and wherever they can to find space. But Natali doesn’t want this championship to be the end-all-be all for the season. “It's always rewarding, it's not what we really focus on, though,” he said of the team’s various champions and All-Americans. “We focus on the process, we focus on just having a good time every day we come out to practice and just really worshipping God with the abilities that we have. It's good to see the results pay off, but that's not really our focus.” NCCAA long jump national champion Jordan Downs echoed that statement when he talked about how the year was going for the team overall. “Everybody's still improving, we haven't peaked yet,” said Downs. “We don't want to peak yet. So, I've been seeing everybody working hard. At the meets, I've been seeing everybody run their butts off, even there are people that haven't had their good days, there's always people behind them stepping up and scoring points for us, which is a good thing. I really love this team.” Downs said that his teammates’ cheering him on helped him. “Stuff would sometimes go through my head, and I would have teammates that will literally just come by me and just try to cheer me up for the event that I'm in,” said Downs, “and I would usually just listen to them and just be like 'okay, I can do this. I just need to calm down, whatever happened, happened. I need to move forward.'” Natali said that there’s been a lot of excitement among the members of the team about the recent win. “They're definitely happy, but they're not satisfied,” he said. “We want to keep getting better.” Next week, the team heads off to the NAIA Indoor National Championships, and then, after spring break, training for the outdoor season begins. Outdoor meets go all the way to the end of April, and national meets take up the month of May. And then, the year ends, seniors graduate and a new team steps up to take the mantle. “As always, we'll lose some key seniors, and they've done a great job in leadership and other areas, but we already have a ton of kids committed for next year, so we're excited about our freshman class coming in next year,” he said. “This is God's program, and He takes care of that, who's supposed to be here will be here, and we'll just continue to work at it.” Downs expressed similar optimism about newcomers to the team. “I can say that this is not the last time that you'll be seeing the track team have a championship,” he said. “There are always going to be newcomers coming in and working their butts off to earn a championship. I believe that the next generation will keep coming in, and Bethel will keep rising.” (Photo Courtesy of Bethel College Athletics and Scott Huck @scotthuckphoto)
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