RICHMOND, INDIANA — All Seth Reynolds really wanted was a t-shirt.
It came with a ticket to the national meet.
Reynolds says the chance to earn a free shirt was his immediate motivation on the day he met the qualifying standard for the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships in the 60 meter hurdles.
It was Dec. 10 at the Indiana Institute of Technology Warrior Invitational, contested at Turnstone Center in Fort Wayne.
Reynolds had qualified for the finals in the 60-meter hurdles. The top three finishers in the six-athlete race would receive a t-shirt.
“I told everyone, ‘I’m going to get a t-shirt,’” Reynolds recalled. “That last race, I wanted to make sure I pushed myself and got in the top three. I finished and I knew I was in the top three, so I was excited for that.”
Reynolds’ first inkling he had accomplished something bigger came a few moments later.
He had finished the race in a time of 8.40, safely under “B” qualifying standard for the NAIA national meet. He had become the first IU East men’s track and field athlete to post qualifying mark for the national meet.
“I didn’t hear my time when it was announced, so I went over to the triple jump,” recalled Reynolds, who competes in multiple jumping events in addition to the hurdles. “When I went over there, I saw the whole team walk over. Coach Sanders congratulated me and told me my time. Everyone congratulated me, and I think Sage (Henderson) picked me up and told me congratulations. It was a great time for me and the whole team.”
Reynolds earned the right to compete at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championship scheduled for March 2-4 in Johnson City, Tenn. He’ll be the first IU East athlete to compete at the NAIA’s indoor national meet.
Reynolds will compete in the semifinals of the 60 meter hurdles at 1:50 p.m. on March 3. The final is March 4 at 12:55 p.m.
“I’m extremely proud of Seth and this huge accomplishment,” says IU East coach David Sanders. “Being the first IU East male athlete to qualify for indoor nationals is a stepping stone for our program, and it couldn’t have happened to a better person than Seth.
“He gets it done in all facets of being a student-athlete, in the classroom, on the track and in the community. We are excited for Johnson City, Tenn.”
It’s been a speedy journey for an athlete whose only track and field experience up until four years ago was walking across the track surface to get on and off of the field as a member of the Eaton High School football team.
Reynolds grew up playing football, basketball and baseball at Eaton, a short drive from Richmond.
He took part in organized track and field for the first time as a junior in high school, after he dropped baseball as his spring sport.
“The track coach asked me to come out,” Reynolds recalled. “Said I could try doing hurdles, high jump, whatever you want.”
Hurdles came naturally to Reynolds. So naturally, that he qualified for the Ohio state track and field meet in the 110 meter hurdles in his very first season. He returned to the state meet as a senior and earned a seventh-place finish.
When it came time to pick a college, IU East proved a “perfect spot” for Reynolds.
“The visits here were great,” he said. “I saw my name on the big TV (in the IU East athletics office) saying welcome, met all the track team.
“I wanted a small college and a place close to home, so it was a perfect spot.”
Reynolds made an instant impact as an IU East freshman. He earned the conference Newcomer of the Year award after running a leg on IU East’s league champion 4×400 meter relay team and placing in three individual events at the conference meet. He was a few tenths of a second from qualifying for the NAIA’s outdoor national meet last spring.
“So that motivated me for this year to work hard and get better, because I really wanted to qualify for nationals,” Reynold said.
“The places I would get to go, that’s one of the things that really was really exciting to me. I get to go down to Tennessee for the indoor season, and if I can manage to qualify for the outdoor season, I’ll get to go down to Gulf Shores, Ala., which would be great.”
There was just one downside to earning the trip to the national meet. Reynolds had obtained tickets to a Maroon 5 concert in Cincinnati scheduled for March 3 — the middle day of the national meet.
“So anyone looking for Maroon 5 tickets,” Reynolds says, “I’ve got good ones available.”