Defending champions Tiffin University came out hot on the first day of the Division II indoor track and field championships, winning two out of three finals on Thursday and racking up 28 points.

The Dragons hold a seven-point lead over Ashland, the top-ranked team heading into the Division II National Championships Festival. Missouri Southern, which is tied with Grand Valley State for third place, celebrated a record-setting performance in the men’s 5,000-meter run by Vincent Kiprop.

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The sophomore lapped most of the field on his way to breaking the championship record with a time of 13:42.42, nearly two seconds faster than the previous record held by Western State’s Michael Aish from 2001. Kiprop’s time is the third fastest ever run in Division II. 

“Of course coming into the race everyone has a game plan, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t work,” said Kiprop, who also took the Division II cross country title last fall. “But you have to trust the training from the coaches. I’m honored and I’m grateful.”

For Tiffin, senior Coy Blair ensured a strong start on Thursday when he took the lead on his sixth and final attempt in the weight throw, a heave that traveled 21.44 meters. It was enough to surpass Ashland’s Daniel Roberts, who finished second with a throw of 21.22 meters. Ashland’s Bryn Campbell (20.53) rounded out the top three.

“I’ve been missing the big one all year,” Blair said. “I knew it was possible. … I’ve seen it before in practice and training and meets where I’ve fouled it and let it get away from me. It was just do or die, and it happened.”

Moments after his win, Blair turned the attention to his teammates who were stepping up in other big ways. Already in the meet, sophomore Reginald Thomas and freshman Jonte Baker had qualified for the 60-meter dash finals, which will be run on Saturday. Later, senior James Ngandu finished second in the 5,000 meters in 13:57.21.

The night was capped off in thrilling fashion for the Dragons, as senior Marquise Corbett nabbed the long jump title with a leap of 7.81 meters. Corbett was challenged by Lincoln’s Sedeekie Edie, who took the lead on his final jump with a mark of 7.66 before Corbett answered with a school-record-tying effort to secure the win.

Team standings:

Tiffin, 28
Ashland, 21
Grand Valley State, 10
Missouri Southern, 10
Adams State, 9

Day one event champions:

Men’s weight throw: Coy Blair, Tiffin, 21.44m

Men’s 5,000-meter run: Vincent Kiprop, Missouri Southern, 13:42.42

Men’s long jump: Marquise Corbett, Tiffin, 7.81