When Hastings College's contingent arrived in Gulf Shores, Ala., to compete at the May 25-27 NAIA National Outdoor Track & Field Championships, it numbered a competitive 17 athletes.
However, only three were men.
Fortunately, one happened to be now-junior Alex Wellington, who heaved the shot put a title-winning 18.06 meters (59'3").
But head coach Ryan Mahoney would certainly like to see a few more Bronco men share the scoring load next summer with the standout thrower-who also finished sixth in the hammer throw with a personal-record 57.27m (187'11") best, earning All-American status a second time.
Mahoney announced a promising acquisition via Twitter (@HCTFXC) on May 16:
"Another great addition to our T&F family," it read. "We welcome sprinter Brian Mashak from Colorado."
"We do recruit Colorado fairly extensively and follow results there throughout the season," Mahoney told the Times by e-mail, crediting sprint coach (and brother) Luke Mahoney as the Bayfield speedster's main recruiter.
"We have recruited quite a few freshman sprints, jumps, and hurdles guys to fill some depth issues we had last season," he said. "We definitely see Brian as someone with a lot of potential and someone who can step in, in the 100 and 200, and develop into a solid contributor."
Neither a 100- nor 200-meter runner represented the school at nationals.
Mashak was a four-year CHSAA Class 3A State Championships qualifier, whether in the shortest sprints, shortest two relays or any combination of the four, and tough enough to play key roles on BHS' football and basketball squads while overcoming injuries.
Considering Mahoney's comments about his aforementioned Hastings standouts, Wolverine Football boss Gary Heide may have unknowingly anticipated Mahoney's willingness to experiment with talent, saying of Mashak, "I think he would be a tremendous 400 runner because of his strength" in a March 2016 Durango Herald feature.
"Some of those guys will focus more on the 100, 200; some more 200, 400; and some will help across the board," Mahoney said of his incoming crop. "It will provide a nice competitive training group that can grow up together and push each other over the next three to four years.
"We definitely see Brian as someone with a lot of potential and someone who can step in, in the 100 and 200, and develop into a solid contributor."
Now-junior Ty Johnson figures to be the Broncos' frontrunner in at least the 100 this coming season, having just missed the Great Plains Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships final with a ninth-place 11.16 in the prelims. He also ran a leg on Hasting's ninth-place (44.50) 4x100 relay.
Hasting's track and field roster this past season included some southwestern Colorado flavor as well in freshman high jumper Andrew Plunkett, a 2016 Mancos graduate. Despite distance runner Lucas Keifer not finishing the marathon-only 45 did, and in under four hours-at nationals, the Wellington-led Broncos still tied William Penn (Oskaloosa, Iowa) University and Olivet Nazarene (Bourbonnais, Ill.) University for 20th out of 69 crews.
"I'd like to have four guys running in the 10's on our 4x100 relay outdoor next season, and I think Brian will be a candidate for that," Mahoney said. "Brian has talent and has some good athleticism and we are excited to see him compete first with the other young guys we have coming in. And then, of course, against our competition wherever he has the best chance to succeed and help the team."
DID YOU KNOW: Mashak was named Class 2A Wide Receiver of the Year in 2016 by www.cofridaynightlights.com. He also was named one of its Offensive/Defensive Players-of-the-Year-along with teammate Hunter Killough-at the end of regular-season play.
In the same post, the site actually predicted BHS' semifinals loss to La Junta, after correctly predicting Wolverine wins over Florence and Sterling in the first two rounds.
DID YOU ALSO KNOW: In addition to being the hometown of iconic University of Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne, Hastings is also the home of what was first called "Kool-Ade." Today's Kool-Aid will be commemorated on Aug. 11-13 for the the 90th birthday of inventor Edwin Perkins. The Hastings College library is named in his honor.