Brandi Hosford and Cole Connell typify what the track and field programs at St. Ambrose are all about.
Putting team before self, they demonstrated that mindset Saturday and then were recognized for it after helping lead the Fighting Bees at the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships at the St. Ambrose Wellness & Recreation Center.
Hosford was named the CCAC women’s field events athlete of the championship, and Connell shared the men’s field events award with Andrew Franklin of Olivet Nazarene.
St. Ambrose won only three events but used great depth to dominate the women’s field, piling up 248.5 points to beat runner-up Olivet Nazarene by 62.5 points.
The St. Ambrose men’s team claimed four championships, including a pair by Jack Reemtsma, on its way to a third-place finish in the team race with 174 points. Olivet Nazarene took first, collecting 229 points to beat St. Francis (Ill.) by 13.
"There are some exceptional teams with some exceptional athletes in our conference, and while we didn’t win a lot of individual events, we had three, four competitors scoring in a lot of events to keep us in it," said coach Dan Tomlin, named the women’s coach of the year after guiding the Bees to their first indoor league title since winning the Midwest Collegiate Conference crown in 2015.
"With five or six events left, the women’s race looked like it could be tight but the rest of the way, we had a lot of athletes step up and help us not just win, but win convincingly."
Hosford, a senior from Morrison, Illinois, won the triple jump with a school-record effort of 38 feet, 1.25 inches, and finished third in high jump on Saturday after taking fourth in the long jump on Friday.
St. Ambrose also picked up wins on Saturday from Maddy Youngers in the 60-meter hurdles and Abby Hammer in the 600.
Hosford’s effort in the high jump of 5 feet, 1 inch came as she competed in the event for the first time this season.
"We won a conference title in the MCC in my freshman year, and I remember how that team was all about doing our best for each other. I see a lot of that in this team," Hosford said. "To win a conference championship as a team, that’s what means the most to me. It was a great group effort."
Connell gave the St. Ambrose men everything he had as well after falling and injuring a leg during the 60-meter hurdles in the heptathlon on Saturday morning.
He returned to his feet and finished the race before gutting out a 1,000-meter run to earn a sixth-place finish and team points in the heptathlon.
"When I fell, I thought about nationals last year when we finished fourth as a team by one point. I had to get up and finish to put myself in a position to score in the event," Connell said. "You never know when that point is going to make all the difference so when it’s out there you grab it."
The junior from Central DeWitt did that throughout the meet.
He went on to finish fourth in the pole vault, sixth in the 60 hurdles and eighth in triple jump on Saturday afternoon after finishing second in the high jump on Friday.
"There are always things you feel like you could do better, but it was a decent weekend," Connell said.
Reemtsma led the St. Ambrose men on the track. The junior from Davenport Central won the 60 hurdles by .15 of a second with his time of 8.32 seconds and took first in the 400, finishing with a season-best time of :49.94.
The Fighting Bees also picked up CCAC titles in the 1,000 from Rane Nichols, a senior from Davenport West, and from Anthony Peters in the 3,000-meter race walk.
In addition to the individual honors won by Hosford and Connell, CCAC coaches selected St. Francis senior Brian Blaylock as the men’s track athlete of the championships and honored four-event winner Jenna Moody of St. Francis as the women’s track athlete of the meet.