Houghton College hosted the National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association (NCCAA) championship for track and field on February 17 and 18. The two-day event began on Friday afternoon and extended through Saturday evening.

This was Houghton’s first hosting of an NCCAA track and field event, and the college previously hosted two of the organization’s cross-country national meets. The Kerr-Pegula Field House makes the college a “great destination for this,” according to Jason Mucher, director of compliance and communication for Houghton’s athletic department. Previous hosts include Indiana Wesleyan University and Cedarville University.

Approximately 350 athletes on 17 teams competed over the two days, all of whom seek to excel at academics as well. Patrick Hager, head cross-country and track and field coach, notes that, “These student-athletes invest a lot of time and energy into this extracurricular activity, and it’s important that other stakeholders around campus see that they’ve succeeded in another area besides academics.”

Such an inclusion speaks to the character of the NCCAA and its athletes, and how competing in a sport builds character. “As a coach, it’s very fun to watch how happy these athletes get when they improve on their marks and accomplish something special,” Hager adds.

Participants and teams were also encouraged to participate in a service project, a standard inclusion in each NCCAA national championship and in keeping with Houghton’s community service tradition. The college paired with the Houghton Wesleyan Church food pantry for this venture.

“We encourage visiting teams to help out–by writing a check to the food pantry or visiting a local grocery store and bringing nonperishable food. Last time, we had an entire table full of food,” says Mucher.