Naperville, Ill. — Wisconsin-La Crosse tied for first at the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships Saturday at Al B. Carius Track. The Eagles and host North Central College (Ill.) tied for the national title with 34.0 points while UW-Whitewater placed third with 30.0 and UW-Stevens Point fourth with 27.0.
It is UWL's NCAA III record 18th indoor title in school history, including 11 of the last 16 and first since 2014. The Eagles have a nation-leading 32 national championships overall (18 indoor; 14 outdoor). UWL has never finished lower than fifth at the NCAA III Indoor Championships since 1985.
Men's Track & Field Team Wins NCAA III Title; Relay Takes Crown... https://t.co/QWilDKCmbS— UWL Athletics (@UWLAthletics) March 12, 2017
UWL captured the national crown in the 4x400-meter relay (3:15.81) Saturday with Zak Wallenfang, Sam Smith, Joshua Desorcy and Ross Denman.
Denman also placed second (21.70) in the 200-meter dash Saturday while Joe Hinz was third (1:51.94) in the 800-meter run and Jonah Bauer eighth (7.20) in the 60-meter dash as each earned individual All-America accolades.
Denman now has eight career NCAA Division III Indoor All-America honors. He captured the 400-meter dash title in 2015 and placed fourth in 2014 and 2016. Denman was also sixth in the 200-meter dash in 2015 and a member of the third-place 4x400-meter relay in 2014 and 2016.
Wallenfang earned his fourth career All-America award in the 4x400-meter relay after being on the third-place relay in 2014 and 2016 and fourth-place relay in 2015.
In Friday's action, UWL's Andrew Jarrett and Christian Morzinski each earned NCAA III All-America honors in the weight throw with Jarrett placing third (62-0 1/2) and Morzinski seventh (60-8 1/2). It is the first career All-America awards for both.
The Eagles' distance medley relay of Michael Rosenberg, Ben Jordan, Christopher Cutter and Ian Ewers earned All-America honors on the track with an eighth-place finish (10:04.36) Friday. It is the second career indoor All-America award for Jordan and Ewers after both were members of the seventh-place distance medley relay in 2016.
UWL returns to action Saturday, April 8 starting its outdoor season hosting the Ashton May Invitational at 11 a.m. at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex.
After spending most of the day waiting to finish the quest it had set upon, the North Central College men's track and field team had just enough left in the tank to achieve its goal of a fifth NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship on Saturday, coming through in the meet's final event to record a historic victory at Al B. Carius Track.
The Cardinals finished with 34 points to tie the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse atop the team standings, marking the first time in the history of the indoor championship two teams had shared the title. North Central was also a part of the only shared national championship outdoors, tying Lincoln University (Pennsylvania) for first place in the 2000 national finals, also held in Naperville.
"It was nerve-wracking the whole day," said North Central head coach Frank Gramarosso after seeing his team win its first national track and field title since 2012. "We were anticipating getting some points at the end of the day, but anything can happen. It was great to have the whole team here and do this at home. and now we get to hang another banner."
Having rolled up 26 points in Friday's first day of competition to surge to a large early lead, North Central had three events left in which to take part on Saturday. Adam Poklop opened the day for the hosts with a 13th-place finish in the high jump (six feet, 3 1/2 inches), and the Cardinals were idle until Dhruvil Patel and Zach Hird took to the track for the 3,000-meter run near the end of the meet. Patel added a second All-America award to his haul for the weekend with a seventh-place finish (eight minutes, 23.62 seconds), while Hird placed 11th (8:25.78).
That left only the 4-by-400-meter relay, in which North Central and Wisconsin-La Crosse were both entered. The Cardinals held a four-point lead over the Eagles heading into the race, and North Central's quartet of Daniel Spaccapaniccia, Zach Kirby, Ben Nordman and Peyton Piron had been apprised of the situation facing them before the gun went off.
"I opened my mouth and went to the clerking area, and I told them, 'If La Crosse wins the 4-by-4, we have to be third in order to tie,'" Gramarosso said. "They said, 'Don't worry coach, we've got it.'"
The competitors showed no ill effects after being informed of the stakes, finishing with a season-best time of 3:17.20 which ranks them as the fourth-fastest relay squad in North Central's history indoors, though Wisconsin-La Crosse did finish ahead of the Cardinals in 3:15.81. With one final heat of the relay remaining, all North Central could do was wait and watch.
The University of Mount Union clocked a time of 3:16.97 in the second heat to place second, but the tie for first place in the team competition was sealed when Bethel University's team finished just shy of the Cardinals' time in 3:17.55.
"That was the longest three minutes and 17 seconds of my life," Piron said. "I don't think it's hit us yet. It's really unbelievable. I have no words for it."
The Cardinals' relay team earned All-America accolades for the third time as a group, having done so at the indoor and outdoor national championships in 2016. The North Central program now has an even 500 All-America awards in track and field in its history.
North Central now has 11 total team national championship in track and field (six outdoor, five indoor) and 33 team national championships overall. The Cardinals also won their 17th Division III national title in men's cross country last fall, a national record among all NCAA divisions.