ALLENDALE, Mich. -- Drew Windle is no stranger to being atop the podium.
Windle, a middle-distance runner for Ashland, has already won four national championships and he’ll try to add a fifth this week.
The 2014 NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships are being held at Grand Valley State this week.
Windle, the reigning 800-meter national champion, is the No. 1 seed in the event with a blistering time of 1 minute and 46.91 seconds. That’s three seconds faster than his closest competitor.
There was some talk of Windle competing in the 800 and the 1,500 and that could take place in a year.
"He's a year away from the 1,500/800 double," Ashland coach Jud Logan said. "We didn't think that was best for our team. That will be motivation for him.”
Ashland, who will have 16 men and women at the finals, finished second last year in the team standings.
"We believe our men's team is a podium team," Logan said. "The point we'll try to get across is that every point has to be earned. The same goes for Saint Augustine's, Adams State, Ashland and Chico State. Each team has to earn its points. The thing about the NCAA meet is you can't earn points without bodies. We have one of the biggest teams there.”
Saint Augustine’s, which is the No. 1 ranked team in the nation in Division II, comes in as a heavy favorite. In the final poll, they had 329.76 points. Adams State was a distant second with 227.36 points, followed by Texas A&M-Kingsville (195.55) and Ashland (176.09).
Saint Augustine’s has two of the best athletes in the world on its team.
Roxroy Cato, a senior hurdler from Jamaica, and jumper DeJon Wilkinson, a senior from South Carolina, were named Men's Track Athlete of the Year and Men's Field Athlete of the Year, respectively. St. Augustine's also has the Coach of the Year in George Williams.
Cato is undefeated in the 400 meter hurdles and currently has the second-fastest time (48.67 seconds) in the world. He is the top-ranked 400-meter hurdler in Division II and is also part of the top-ranked 4x400 meter relay team in Division II.
Cato won titles in the 400 meter hurdles at the Penn Relays, CIAA Championships and Florida Relays, where he ran 48.67 seconds, at the time a world record.
Wilkinson enters the NCAA championships as the top-ranked long jumper and triple jumper. His triple jump of 53-11¼ at the Florida Relays is tops in the NCAA in all divisions. He is the CIAA champion in the triple jump and placed second in the long jump.
Wilkinson finished second at the Penn Relays with a career mark of 25-10¼, which placed him atop the Division II men's long jump rankings. He was named USTFCCCA NCAA Division II Men's Indoor National Field Athlete of the Year after winning both the long jump and triple jump at the 2014 NCAA Division II Indoor Championships.
Adams State is sending 13 men to the championships. Distance runner Kevin Batt is the No. 1 seed in the 5,000 with a time of 13:45.49. Teammate Tabor Stevens is the No. 2 seed (13:49.40). Jovanny Godinez is the No. 3 seed in the 10,000 (29:15.00). Aaron Dinzeo from California (Pa.) is the top seed (28:40.88). Carlton Lavong is the No. 2 seed in the triple jump (15.97m) and the third seed in the long jump (7.75m). His brother Wesley Lavong is the top seed in the shot put (19.80m) and Justin Bethea is the No. 3 seed in the high jump (2.20m). Jeron Robinson of Kingsville is the top seed (2.29m).