One point isn’t much, but it might as well be a million when it’s the number of points a team loses the title by at the NCAA Division III national meet.
Wisconsin-Oshkosh lost 54-53 to Illinois Wesleyan a year ago, but the Titans are determined to make up for the shortcoming and bring home their first championship since 2007.
The meet begins Thursday at the Selby Field & George Gauthier Track in Delaware, Ohio, and wraps up on Saturday. The Titans go into the meet as the No. 1 team in the country.
“It was tough to fall short,” Ebel said. “We worked hard to have a chance to win it and it wasn’t easy finishing in second. But we have had another great season and we are looking forward to competing for the title again.”
Ebel took over as the head coach at Oshkosh in 2009 and has been at the school since 2002. So he understands what it takes to compete at a high level and understands how to prepare the Titans for the challenges ahead.
“We have to work on quality this week in practice,” Ebel said. “We’re focused on all of the little big things, which are getting enough rest, eating right and keeping the stress level low. If we take care of those things, we’ll be in good shape.”
Christy Cazzola will be the top contender in the 1,500-meter run as she comes into the meet with a time of 4:24.36. Holly Ozanich will be the favorite to win the shot put. She comes in ranked first with a throw of 48-feet-43/4.
Ozanich is also the defending national champion in the hammer throw and is seeded second with a throw of 189-11. Teammate Sue Trzebiatowski is the top seed in the hammer throw (190-11).
Breanna Strupp is the favorite in the discus, checking in with a throw of 161-2. Strupp was ninth at nationals last season.
Camille Davis is also among the top athletes competing for the Titans this week. She is ranked third in the 100 (11.92) and second in the 200 (24.24). Davis was an All-American in both events a year ago.
“I feel we have a strong group going out to nationals,” Ebel said. “We are going to be right in the mix for the championship, and if we go out and take care of business like we have all year, we’ll have a chance to come out on the good side of things.”
And that, of course, is why athletes come to Oshkosh.
“Every recruit I talk with is told that we are in the hunt for a trophy every year,” Ebel said. “We have a great program and athletes come here for the chance to win a national title.”
Other Teams to Watch
Wartburg: The Knights are ranked second in the nation and have had quite a run since 1999, finishing in the top 10 at nationals eight times, including winning championships in 2005 and 2009.
Nevada Morrison should provide a spark to the Knights’ title hopes. Morrison is ranked first in the 400 with a time of 54.92 while Brittany Melloy is the top seed in the 400 hurdles, checking in with a time of 1:00.68.
Nevada Morrison. Skye Morrison, Faith Burt and Kendra Kregel will lead the mile-relay team into action. They come in with a time of 3:40.41, which is more than eight seconds faster than second-seeded MIT.
MIT: Portia Jones will be among the nine athletes competing for third-ranked MIT this week. Jones is seeded third in the 200 with a time of 24.44 and will compete in a total of five events at nationals, including the 100 and 100 hurdles and 400 and mile relays.
Jamie Simmons is second in the 400 and 400 hurdles heading into the national meet. She has a time of 55.68 in the 400 and a time of 1:00.73 in the hurdles.
Anna Holt-Gosselin is ranked third in the 10,000 with a time of 35:18.82. Karin Fisher is third in the pole vault (13-11/2).
Williams: The Ephs have 12 athletes competing at nationals and sophomore standouts Annie Dear and Jen Gossels will be among the favorites to win titles. Dear is the top seed in the 5,000 (16:49.42) and Gossels has the best time in the 10,000 (35:18.92).
Tanasia Hoffler is the defending outdoor triple jump champion and is seeded fourth coming into the meet with a mark of (39-101/2).
Senior captain Lizzy Danhakl will be looking to repeat as an All-American in the 800. She has a time of 2:12.72, good enough for 15th in the field. A year ago, Danhakl took third in the 800.
Methodist: Ashlynn Chavis will lead the Monarchs into action in Ohio. Chavis is a five-time All-American and comes into the meet with the second fastest time in the 100 (11.67). Her mark in the long jump (20-61/4) is the best in the nation.
Ruby Blackwell has the best times in the 100 (11.66) and 200 (24.03) and is the defending national champion in the 200.
Chavis and Blackwell will team up with Marlena Rodriguez and Erica Powell to compete in the 400 relay. They team has the best time in the country at 46.62.
• Melissa Norville of Illinois College will be a top contender in two events this week. Norville is first in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.11 and is first in the triple jump (40-3/14).
• Ithaca standout Emma Dewart is the top seed in the heptathlon. She comes in with a season-best point total of 4,842.
• Catherine Street has the top height in the pole vault with a mark of 13-51/4.