COLUMBUS, Ohio — Winning a national title is the result of a combined effort by both the student-athletes and the coaches. The team title is a combined effort as evident at the 2011 NCAA Division III Men’s and Women’s Track and Field Championships hosted by Capital University.
Each of the team champions crowned on Saturday had just one individual win national titles but it was their supporting cast that led to a greater reward — team success.
The strength of victories in the weight throw and shot put by Holly Ozanich, plus a supporting cast that included Christy Cazzola (fourth in the mile), Camille Davis (third in the 55-meter dash) and Jecel Garner (third in the shot put) led Wisconsin-Oshkosh to its seventh women’s national title on Saturday. The seven national titles are the most of any other NCAA Division III women’s program.
A balanced team effort on the men’s side led North Central (Ill.) to a team title with a single event national champion. Mike Spain, in the 5,000-meter run, shattered the facility record by 22 seconds en route to the title in 14:17.42.
The Titans’ championship effort, in addition to Spain’s effort, was supported by three scorers in the pole vault, two more scorers in the 400-meter run, and individual in the weight throw and in the high jump for their third national title and second straight. The balance paid off for the one-point victory for the championship as North Central edged Central, 45 to 44, for the win.
The Capital Center record book took a serious blow over the course of the two-day championship but the clearance of 13-8 ¼ by Abigail Schaffer of Moravian College was the lone effort that broke a NCAA Championship mark. The title remains on the Moravian College campus as she eclipsed the mark of former teammate Anna Heim, who last year cleared 13-7.75 in her title-winning effort.
“Having the opportunity to spend all of last year from Anna, I knew that I had to work harder, this year. I had to go back and learn more technically and to get back to the heights that would win me a national championship,” said an excited Schaffer.
Wendy Pavlus, a senior from St. Lawrence (N.Y.) has been one of the top distance runners in Division III for the last two seasons. Earlier this year, she won her second-straight women’s individual cross country title. She added to her trophy case with her second-straight win in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 16:51.78.
Another repeat champion was senior Rachel Boerner of Calvin in the women’s 400-meter dash. Boerner won the event in 55.75 to set a facility record and become the first two-time national champion in program history.
The triple jump champions on the men’s and women’s side picked up their second national titles. On the men’s side, Chrys Jones of Centre College started the event with a championship winning leap of 49-8.5 to eclipse the Capital Center mark. On the women’s side, 2009 champion Tanasia Hoffler of Williams returned to the top rung on the championship podium with a jump of 40-2.
If winning a national title is an honor, there is a new feeling on the campus of Buffalo State as Erica Johnson in the women’s 55-meter dash and Justin Allen in the men’s 400-meter dash are the first national champions in school history. Johnson entered the championship with the fastest time and made a .10 improvement in her victory. The championship for Allen was decided by four-thousandths of a second, who along with Dan Benton of North Central won their heats in identical times of 48.27. After a review of the performances, Allen was deemed the champion and becomes a part of the Bengal history books.
Ben Scheetz of Amherst College edged Jake Waterman of Wabash by .06 to win the men’s 800-meter run in 1:51.26. The performance by Scheetz is the first national title in program history for the institution. In the women’s 800-meter run, Keelie Finnel of Coe is the second champion in school history. It is the first since Elizabeth Messerly, who won back to back titles in 1989 and 1990. Finnel joined the record-breaking efforts with a Capital Center Track record time of 2:11.13.
Randalle Boots of Wellesley entered the championship with the top performance in the mile. The sophomore was one of the youngest in the field emerged as the champion with a one-second victory in a time of 4:57.46. In the men’s mile, repeating has not proved to be a difficult feat. For the last six years, the champion has returned to defend his title and win, the following year. SUNY-Fredonia’s Nick Guariono continued the trend with a time of 4:14.23.