North Central College aims for historic sweep of Division III track titles
May 24, 2010
Opportunities to achieve firsts in the storied history of the North Central College men's track and field program are rare, but 14 individuals will have the chance to take their place among the Cardinals' trail blazers at this weekend's NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championships.
In addition to the pursuit of the program's first outdoor national championship since 2000, its fifth outdoor title overall, and the College's 25th national crown, the Cardinals' delegation to this weekend's meet will have the opportunity to secure North Central's first-ever sweep of the Division III cross country, indoor track and outdoor track titles in the same academic year. The feat has occurred just one previous time, accomplished by the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse in 2005-06.
"Quite frankly, it's amazing, when you think about how tough it is to even get to the national championships," said head coach Al Carius about his squad's chance to complete the historic triple crown. "We've had some guys who have worked really hard and improved the past few weeks. We've had many, many personal bests and really took advantage of the opportunity to have the past two meets at home.
"I feel a real sense of pride in the efforts of our team. They've been very resilient and have been able to keep very strong momentum. Whatever happens, I'm proud of us getting to this point."
The Cardinals have a total of 13 entries in seven events this weekend, including three that won indoor national championships this past March. Senior Jake Winder, the two-time defending national indoor pole vault champion, will attempt to pursue his first outdoor crown in his final collegiate meet. With an outdoor personal best of 18 feet, 1/2 inch, achieved at the Chicagoland Outdoor Championships on Apr. 10, Winder has the top mark in the 15-competitor field by nearly a foot. Winder is one of four North Central vaulters in the competition.
The pole vault could be a pivotal event in determining this year's team national champion, as the Cardinals' chief competitor, McMurry University (Tex.), also has four entrants. McMurry has been ranked No. 1 nationally the entire outdoor season, while North Central has occupied the No. 2 spot the past several weeks.
The indoor national champion in the 5,000-meter run, senior Kyle Brady, will compete in two events for the Cardinals this weekend, having qualified with the seventh-fastest time in the outdoor 5,000 (14:27.31) and the fourth-best mark in the 10,000-meter run (30:06.13). He will be joined in both events by teammate Michael Spain, who is seeded fourth in the 5,000 (14:24.34) and fifth in the 10,000 (30:09.52). Brady, who placed fifth in the 10,000 and sixth in the 5,000 at the 2009 outdoor championships, will be seeking his fifth All-America certificate on the track, who placed sixth in the 10,000 last season and was the national runner-up in cross country this past fall, also earned All-America honors at the 2009 indoor championships in the 5,000.
The Cardinals will also seek to defend their indoor national title in the 4-by-400-meter relay. The quartet of Jonathan Caron, Cambron Culpepper, Dayton Henriksen and Jon Howard turned in a time of 3:13.43 at the Gregory Invitational last weekend to qualify as the fourth-fastest squad in the 16-team event. North Central was seeded sixth prior to the indoor national championships.
North Central will also have competitors in the 1,500-meter run, 3,000-meter steeplechase and high jump events this weekend.
Requests for interviews, photos and/or video are welcome will be met promptly by North Central College Sports Information Director Clark Teuscher. Please call (630) 637-5302 or e-mail [email protected] to make such arrangements.