DELAWARE, Ohio – Rain couldn’t put a damper on the opening of the 2011 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field championships Thursday at Ohio Wesleyan University, where an afternoon storm briefly suspended competition and created some soggy conditions at George Gauthier Track once the meet resumed.

The first points scored on the men’s side came in the hammer throw, which featured a repeat champion. California Lutheran senior Eric Flores successfully defended his 2010 title with a toss of 65.21 meters (213-11), despite dealing with the water-logged throwing surface.

“I won’t lie, that ring was super slick, especially when you add water. People were going down left and right,” said Flores, who set the NCAA Division III championship record last year with a 66.35m (217-8) toss.  “I did one throw just to see what it felt like and it was rough, but I was able to at least get a 200-foot throw in there.”

La Verne sophomore Paul Turner wasted no time staking his claim to first place in the long jump. He landed a 7.17 meter (23-6.25) effort on his first attempt and it held up as the eventual winning mark.

Turner’s victory was a narrow one, though, after Kellen McCrary, a junior at Wisconsin-La Crosse, recorded a 7.16m (23-6.00) jump on his final try. Overall, Turner moved up seven spots in the standings after placing eighth as a freshman.

In the only running event of the night that wasn’t a preliminary, senior Michael Spain gave North Central (Illinois) its second-consecutive title in the 10,000-meter run. Spain, last year’s runner-up in the event, took the torch from former teammate Kyle Brady by stopping the clock at 29:58.92.

“I try not to let individual placement interfere with trying to run a safe, conservative race for the team,” Spain said. “I didn’t want to sacrifice anything by letting an individual goal get in the way of a team goal, which is to win a team national championship first.”

Christopher Newport’s Richard Roethel grabbed the decathlon lead by accumulating 3,889 points through the first five events. Roethel’s best placement came in the high jump, which he won with a clearance of 6-8 3/4.