11 NCAA Div. III national team championships
PELLA — Strong winter and spring campaigns pushed Central College to a 50th-place finish in the Learfield Sports Division III Directors’ Cup standings.
It’s Central’s 13th top-50 finish since the Directors’ Cup was first awarded following the 1995-96 season. There are more than 450 Division III schools and 326 landed spots in this year’s final rankings.
The standings are developed by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded on each school’s national finish in up to 18 sports. Each national champion receives 100 points.
Under athletics director Eric Van Kley and associate athletics directors Alicia O’Brien, John Edwards and Mona Roozeboom, Central racked up 358.75 points, nearly identical to last year’s 359-point total when the Dutch placed 42nd. Central had 299 points in 2011-12.
Central was 76th after the fall season on the strength of a sixth-place finish at the NCAA men’s cross country championships, but climbed to 40th after the winter campaign. Central reached the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, placed 10th in men’s indoor track, finished 23rd in women’s indoor track and tied for 55th in wrestling. Central's men's indoor track squad was fueled by a national title in the distance medley relay. In the spring, the Dutch were 16th in women’s outdoor track and field and 53rd in men’s, while also reaching the NCAA softball tournament for the 26th time.
Williams (Mass.) captured the Division III title for the 17th time in 19 years. The Ephs rolled up 1,225.25 points, scoring in the maximum 18 sports. Wis.-Whitewater, which claimed NCAA championships in football, men’s basketball and baseball, was second with 1,134.75.
Iowa Conference rival Wartburg was 11th with 674.5 points, while Luther was 38th with 394.5. Following Central were Loras (64th), Coe (102nd), Dubuque (119th) and Buena Vista (243rd),
Central’s highest Directors’ Cup finish in the 19 seasons the standings have been compiled was 12th in 2000-01. The Dutch have been in the top 25 three times.
Division III is the NCAA’s largest division, with 448 members representing 43 conferences. More than 80 percent are private institutions and the schools are diverse, with enrollment ranging from 335 to 20,674. The average Division III school enrolls 2,620 students. Central’s enrollment is 1,400. Division III stages championships in 28 sports. Central offers 19.
More than 178,000 student-athletes compete in Division III, about 40 percent of all those in the NCAA.