11 NCAA Div. III national team championships
PELLA—A strong spring campaign vaulted Central College to a 42nd-place finish in the Learfield Sports Division III Directors’ Cup standings.
It’s Central’s 12th top-50 finish since the Directors’ Cup was first awarded following the 1995-96 season. There are 447 Division III schools and 330 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.
The Dutch racked up 359 points, up from 299 in 2011-12, when Central placed 58th. Central was 88th after the fall season and 64th following the winter. In the spring campaign, the Dutch tied for seventh in Division III in softball, were 12th in men’s golf and, sparked by a national decathlon title from Eric Larson (sophomore, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS), were 22nd in men’s track and field.
Earlier, Central was ninth in indoor men’s track and field, fueled by Larson’s national heptathlon crown. The Dutch finished 13th in men’s cross country after winning the first Iowa Conference championship in the program’s history, 22nd in men’s track and field, 46th in wrestling and 58th in women’s indoor track and field.
Williams (Mass.) claimed the Directors’ Cup title for the 16th time in 18 years, with 1,273.75 points. The Ephs scored nationally in the maximum 18 sports and won Division III titles in women’s rowing, men’s tennis and women’s tennis. Emory (Ga.) was second with 986.5 points, followed by Middlebury (Vt.) and Wis.-Whitewater.
Wartburg was the top Iowa Conference finisher, placing 18th with 592.75 points. Central was next, followed by Luther in 44th, Loras in 69th, Coe in 72nd, Simpson in 211th, Dubuque in 241st and Buena Vista in 328th.
In 2012-13, which was Eric Van Kley’s first year as athletics director, Central claimed Iowa Conference titles in men’s cross country, men’s indoor track and field and men’s golf, while sharing a league crown in softball.
Central’s highest Directors’ Cup finish in the 18 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 447 members representing 43 conferences. More than 80 percent are private institutions and the schools are diverse, with enrollment ranging from 363 to 20,483. The average Division III school enrolls 2,625 students. Central’s enrollment is 1,500. 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.