May 29, 2010

By Chuck Murr
Special to NCAA.com

BEREA, Ohio - North Central College men's track and field team didn't come close to winning an event Saturday - but they didn't have to in order to complete a rare triple.

The Cardinals claimed the 2010 NCAA Division III Outdoor national championship - adding to its 2010 indoor title and 2009 cross country crown.

"I can't picture a better way to go out," senior Kyle Brady said. "It's just a magical experience that I couldn't have even imagined."

It was the 20th national title for the North Central program, but first in the men's outdoor since the 2000 squad tied Lincoln (Pa.) for the championship.

North Central (Naperville, Ill.) totaled 53 points in the three-day meet at Baldwin-Wallace College to easily outdistance Salisbury (Md.), runnerup with 36. Wisconsin-La Crosse had 28 points for third as 85 teams gained at least one point in the competition.

"It's been a year of really coming together as a team and finding out what that really means, changing it from a word to a feeling," coach Al Carius said. "Our guys have continuously regrouped and got back together and continued to go forward.

"So many times along the way, things happened that could have interrupted that process, but it's a real credit to everyone who has contributed to this effort. It's a tremendous finish for this meet and for the year."

North Central amassed 41 points in the first two days and was in control, though it hoped Brady or Michael Spain could add significant points in the 5,000 meters. Brady moved through the pack and into the lead with 1,000 meters to go, with Spain running fourth.

Connor Kamm of Williams College (Williamstown, Mass.) came on strong to win in 14:28.06, a second and a half ahead of Nick Karwoski of Dickinson College (Carlisle, Penn.). Brady and Spain were next.

"It feels great to win, I'm pretty happy, but surprised, too," Kamm said. "I had a lot of injuries the past two years, so I didn't really have the nationals in my mind when the season started. I looked around today though, and saw a bunch of other guys were doubling in other races, so I thought I'd be fresh. I just did good today and got lucky."

Chrys Jones of Centre College (Danville, Ky.) repeated as triple jump champ with a mark of 49 feet, 9¾ inches. The junior battled back from a hamstring injury to qualify, and though he fouled on each of his last three jumps, says his goal for next year is to gain the Olympic trials.

"I worked hard to get the repeat," said Jones, whose third effort won the event. "The last three jumps, I scooted back on the runway and was going for it. I fouled on all three. Two of them were really big and that's just the kind of mentality I have. Once I get a good jump in, I really start going for it.

"If I don't go 51 feet and above next year, I'll be disappointed. I'm going to put the work in and hope to get around the 52 or 53 range."

Monmouth (Ill.) College junior Tyler Hannam won the men's high jump at 6 feet, 11½ inches. Defending champ John Kimmel of Manchester (North Manchester, Ind.) also cleared that height, but lost the title for having more misses overall on a hot, sunny day in which the event took three hours to complete.

"It was a long competition and I was really nervous," Hannum said. "I waited four days to jump, then it didn't help that we had a 45-minute break between jumps today. But it was worth it. I'm really excited now."

Moravian (Bethlehem, Pa.) junior Eric Woodruff and Springfield (Mass.) senior Stephen Headley won exciting sprint titles.

Headley defended his 100 meters title with a time of 10.33 seconds. Delannie Spriggs of Salisbury was runner up for the second straight year, timed at 10.48.

"I felt him (Spriggs) and that gave me a spark," Headley said. "You work all year for a race that last 10 seconds. One split-second error can ruin it. And you definitely feel the pressure. When you are running, it seems like an eternity."

Headley was named the meet's outstanding men's runner. Stephen Morton of M.I.T., who won the long jump and finished third in the triple jump, earned outstanding men's field competitor.

Woodruff said he also felt pressure, but defended his 200 title at 21.04 with Headley second at 21.15.

"It was a matter of reassuring myself that I had it in me to repeat," Woodruff said. "Then I went out and ran my race. I was happy with my performance."

Salisbury senior Cory Beebe defended 400 meter hurdles title and became a four-time All-American. He finished sixth in the 110 hurdles, which was won by Edgar Townsend of Greenville (Ill.) for the second year in a row.

"Usually I go out early before the race, but it was so hot today I stayed behind and prepared mentally," Townsend said. "I just tried to stay clean, focus on each hurdle as it came up, and run my race."

Beebe had been a two-time All-American at Heidelberg (Tiffin, Ohio) before sitting out a season and transferring to Salisbury. He said winning back-to-back titles means more to him than his early career performance.

"I won early, then had injuries and didn't race," Beebe said. "To win last year was big, but this year I knew I had a target on my back as the champion and also the fastest qualifier. To win through that is exciting."

Max Hanson of Gustavus Adolphus (St. Peter, Minn.) kept Emmanuel Bofa of Whitworth (Spokane, Wash.) from a third consecutive victory in the 800 meters. Hanson ran a 1:49.50 to Bofa's 1:50.43 in one of the meet's most exciting finishes.

"I am just overwhelmed and it is going to take time for this to sink in," Hanson said. "The two-time champion is in the race, he had the quickest time and there were a lot of other great athletes in the field.

"With 200 meters to go, I thought I was fighting for second place because he (Bofa) was out there and pulling away. With 100 to go, I gave it one more shot and I started to edge closer and closer. With five meters to go, I gave it a push and it worked out. Tremendous."

Wheaton (Mass.) won the 4x100 relay in 40.77 seconds and also the 4x400 relay in 3:11.73. Merzudin Ibric was the only runner on both teams.

"The first race, we had three guys coming back from last year," Ibric said. "We believed in each other and we really came together at the right time today. In the 400 relay, we came in ranked number one and there were a lot of expectations, but we couldn't get too excited over anything. When I passed the kid on my left (in running the third leg), after that we were in front all the way and I passed it off."

Mark Williamson completed the winning 400 relay. "When I saw him (Ibric) coming down the stretch, I got a giant smile on my face and just made sure he gave me the baton. But I was nervous. I just wanted to hold on and over the last 200 meters, I gave it everything I had."