Rose-Hulman sweeps HCAC indoor track titles

Feb. 24—Larry Cole turned 70 last month, so both Rose-Hulman track and field squads provided him with late birthday presents Saturday evening.

Competing in the 2024 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference indoor championships inside a crowded Rose-Hulman Sports & Recreation Center, the Cole-coached Engineers left with both team titles for the second year in a row.

Rose's women had plenty of room to spare, outpointing runner-up Hanover 227-124.5 and setting an HCAC record for largest margin of victory for its women's indoor meet.

But the men needed to beat Manchester in the final relay — the 4 by 400 meters — and they won the event handily to edge the Spartans in overall points 193-189.

"It was just a great team effort again," Cole said about his female athletes. "We had good efforts at every event for the ladies. The relays were outstanding."

Cole mentioned freshmen Rose Talbert (sprints) and Jocelyn Onstot (distance) as being key performers, among others, for the Engineers' runners. Overall, there is an uncharacteristically high number of women — 40 — on the Rose-Hulman roster this season.

Onstot (mile run and 3,000 meters) and senior Rofiat Adeyemi (long jump and triple jump) were double winners for the Rose women, plus Onstot ran the third leg for the Engineers' winning 4-by-400 quartet.

For the male Engineers, this was their 26th HCAC indoor title in the last 27 years and second in a row.

Senior Jailen Hobbs provided his usual contributions — win the 60, win the 200 and anchor the triumphant 4-by-200 relay foursome — then he cheered on teammates Raymond Bates (senior), Andrew Shields (freshman), Connor Bodie (freshman) and Jacob Eve (senior) in the meet-deciding relay victory in the 4 by 400.

"I'm relieved that all of our hard work went to something," Hobbs told the Tribune-Star. "A lot of sweat and tears, bodies hurting, went into this."

He's also been a four-year football standout as a wide receiver and kick returner for the Engineers in the fall.

In last year's NCAA Division III national track and field championships, Hobbs placed fourth in the 100 outdoors and 13th in the 60 indoors. He hopes to improve on his 60 placing when the 2024 NCAA D-III indoor championships come up March 8-9 at Virginia Beach, Va.

Then Hobbs will get ready for Rose's outdoor season, which begins March 16 with its Early Bird Invitational at the William Welch Track and Field Complex. This May, he plans to graduate with a degree in computer engineering. After that, he plans to use his NCAA COVID-19 extra year of eligibility to attend another university and continue with athletics.

On Saturday, Hobbs was particularly pleased that the 4-by-400 relay team he anchored set the HCAC indoor, SRC facility and school indoor records with a time of 1 minute, 30.30 seconds. Other runners on that crew were graduate student Prescott Brackett, junior Jack Cox and junior Ian Lemons.