Oshkosh throwers put Titans on top
Hoffler became three-time national champ with her triple jump
DELAWARE, Ohio – Ohio Wesleyan’s campus could have easily doubled as Wisconsin-Oshkosh’s Friday at the NCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships. The Titan throwers obviously felt at home and packed the top of the standings in a pair of events to build a big lead by the conclusion of the second day.
A rain delay postponed the hammer throw from Thursday, but it couldn’t derail Holly Ozanich’s quest for a second-consecutive title as she led a dominating effort for Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the event. Ozanich tossed the hammer an even 200 feet (60.95 meters) to outduel teammate and fellow senior Sue Trzebiatowski (58.96m, 193-5). Wisconsin-Oshkosh claimed two more top-six placements when junior Alexia Child went fourth with a 55.15m (180-11) effort and sophomore Samantha Loew claimed sixth with a 53.47m (175-5) heave.
“I think (competing against each other in practice) definitely helps us relax,” Trzebiatowski said. “We can push each other in practice and then when we get to a meet we can also support each other. That kind of helps us relax and just fire each other up to go after it.”
Ozanich came back later in the day to take second in the shot put (14.82m, 48-7 1/2), but yielded the spotlight to fellow Titan Jecel Gerner. Gerner hurled the shot 15.11m (49-7) and gave Wisconsin-Oshkosh its second championship of the day, as well as first place in the team standings with 48 points.
“I have a really good coach that pushes us and I have teammates that are really strong, which makes it nice to compete against them at high-level meets,” said Gerner.
With 26 points Williams was next in the team rankings behind Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Illinois College (16 pts.), Wartburg (15 pts.), Gustavus Adolphus (14 pts.), and Ithaca (14 pts. each) rounded out the top-five placements with one day of competition remaining.
Though only a sophomore, Tanasia Hoffler of Williams became a three-time national champion and a five-time All-American with her triple jump victory. Hoffler, the 2010 indoor and outdoor titlist in the event, leapt a distance of 12.32m (40-5) to successfully defend her crown.
“You just have to treat every jump like it’s your last and you try to get on the board,” Hoffler said after her final jump solidified her win. “You just keep giving it your all regardless of what everybody else is jumping.”
Gustavus Adolphus’ Janey Helland took the heptathlon crown thanks to a thrilling come-from-behind finish. Helland entered the day in third, 205 points behind leader Emma Dewart of Ithaca. Helland, a senior, narrowed the gap in the long jump and javelin throw and finally overtook Dewart in seventh event, the 800-meter run.
Helland’s time of 2:19.47 was good for second place and 49 more points than Dewart scored with her 2:23.07 finish. That point differential catapulted Helland into the top spot on the podium by a slim, 5,061-5,015 margin.
“I’m kind of speechless. It feels awesome,” Helland explained. “I definitely worked really hard for this. I really wanted it bad. At indoors, I got second and ever since then I was like, ‘I can do this.’ It’s just one of those things where you realize your true potential.”
Moravian junior Abby Schaffer certainly had some momentum on her side entering the women’s pole vault finals. Schaffer claimed the 2011 indoor championship title and had previously cleared the four-meter mark three times in the outdoor season. Schaffer added the outdoor title with a NCAA championship record-setting clearance of 4.14m (13-7).
“I worked a lot harder this year, working with my coaches at Moravian. They put me through a lot more rigorous practices,” said Shaffer, the fourth-place vaulter in 2010. “I just had my eye on doing better this year. I lifted, I ran, I practiced a lot harder and eventually it all paid off.”
Runner-up and fellow junior Catherine Street of Linfield shared the record, but the championship went to Shaffer because she cleared the bar on her first attempt while it took Street two tries to land cleanly on the mat.
“It was the best competition that I’ve had all year,” Street said. “I came in going 13-5 and went 13-7 (for a personal record), so I can’t ask for any more. I’m pretty sure I screamed right after I made the bar. It was wonderful.”
Baldwin-Wallace senior Kimberly Chinn, the runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase a year ago, captured her first title in the event with a 10:24.22 finish, which was a six-second improvement on her 2010 championship time.
“I just think it’s the perfect top to a great season,” said Chinn of her final collegiate run. “I’ve had a lot of success this season and I feel that this is the best way to go out.”
The final day of the 2011 NCAA Division III Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championship begins Saturday.