Entering the Division II Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championship, defending champions Tiffin University expected to score around 38 points – likely not enough for a repeat win. They figured they were 30-point underdogs, their top two competitors just too deep.
But over the three-day competition, Tiffin athletes clawed their way to personal records, unpredictable finishes and three individual titles to secure the Dragons a second team title. Tiffin amassed 63 points, 11 points more than runner-up and top-seed Ashland. St. Augustine’s finished in third with 46, while Adams State, boosted by a record-shattering 3,000-meter run on Saturday by Sydney Gidabuday, claimed fourth.
“We came up with some unbelievable, unbelievable points,” said head coach Jeremy Croy. “Just being here is one thing, but going from 15th to 3rd in an event – we had several guys really step up and score unexpected points.”
Senior Coy Blair started the Dragons off strong on the first day of competition, claiming the weight throw title on his sixth and final throw with a 21.44-meter heave. Blair – who also won an individual title on Saturday in shot put, his primary event – surpassed three Ashland throwers who were seeded ahead of him coming into the meet. The throw was not only a new personal best for Blair, but it also was a new school record.
The senior was determined to produce big results for his team after falling short in last year’s championship and scoring just one point. “I came in with the mentality, don’t let what happened last year happen again,” Blair said. “Scoring 20 points wasn’t for me, it was for my team. Winning it for the team was all I wanted to do.”
Senior long jumper Marquise Corbett gave Tiffin another first-place finish in a school-record tying effort. Lincoln’s Sedeekie Edie challenged Corbett on his final jump, taking the lead with a mark of 7.66 before Corbett answered with a jump of 7.81 meters.
Reginald Thomas and Jonte Baker won 14 key points for Tiffin in the 60-meter dash with a second- and third-place finish, respectively. Cameron Burrows (5th in high jump) and Dylan Cornwell (8th in pole vault) also added to the Dragons’ total.
But it was senior James Ngandu who put the exclamation point on a string of clutch performances for Tiffin. After finishing second in the 5,000 meters on Thursday, Ngandu knew what was at stake when he toed the line for the 3,000 Saturday. Tiffin hadn’t qualified for the 4x400 relay, so the distance race was their last shot at crucial points.
Building the pressure even more? Ngandu went into the race with the 15th fastest time. Still, he wasn’t fazed: “I told myself I must score so we can win,” he said.
Ngandu stayed among the leaders throughout the race, which was one for the record books. Missouri Southern’s Vincent Kiprop, the 5,000-meter champ, and Gidabuday, the third-place finisher in the 5,000, pulled away in the final lap, barreling toward the finish at a pace that crushed a Division II record as well as the facility record set by Oregon distance star Edward Cheserek in 2016. Gidabuday came out on top with a time of 7:56.88. Kiprop ran 7:57.49, while Ngandu finished third in 8:03.29.
For Croy, the championship celebration began before Ngandu even crossed the line. “I had 16 texts from alumni before the 3K was even over,” the coach said. “People knew.”
Men’s Team Results (Top 5)
St. Augustine’s, 46
Adams State, 41
Academy of Art, 27
Day Three Event Champions
60 meters: Mobolade Ajomale, Academy of Art, 6.60
200 meters: Mobolade Ajomale, Academy of Art, 21.05
400 meters: Myles Pringle, Ashland, 46.39
800 meters: Shaquille Dill, St. Augustine’s, 1:49.96
Mile: Bastian Grau, Southern Indiana, 4:05.70
3,000 meters: Sydney Gidabuday, Adams State, 7:56.88
60-meter hurdles: Marshawn Scott, Limestone, 7.92
4x400-meter relay: St. Augustine’s, 3:08.76
Pole vault: Scott Greenman, Sioux Falls, 5.35 meters
Shot put: Coy Blair, Tiffin, 18.91 meters