15 NCAA Div. III individual championships
PELLA—The Central College men’s track and field team is ranked No. 8 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) preseason Division III outdoor national rankings released Wednesday.
Following last season’s 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Division III 2013 Outdoor Track & Field Championships, the Dutch finished 10th at this year’s national indoor championship meet behind their national champion distance medley relay team of Austin O’Brien (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS), Spencer Hammack (sophomore, Ottumwa), Drew Jackson (junior, Johnston) and Eli Horton (junior, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS).
Central returns three NCAA outdoor meet qualifiers from last year’s top-25 squad, including decathlon national champion Eric Larson (Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS). Larson racked up 6,969 points to best Wis.-Eau Claire’s Brandon Zarnoth, who scored 6,860. Larson also competed in the open long jump, finishing 11th. Cole Decker (sophomore, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) finished 16th in the 10,000-meter run, while Horton ran the prelims of the 1,500-meter run.
Wis.-La Crosse, the 2013 outdoor national champion, is the preseason top-ranked team. Wis.-Eau Claire, Wis.-Oshkosh and Wis.-Whitewater are Nos. 2, 3 and 4 after finishing in that order last season. Whitworth (Wash.) rounds out the top five while No. 6 Mount Union (Ohio), No. 7 Whittier (Calif.), No. 9 Salisbury (Md.) and No. 10 Christopher Newport (Va.) fill out the top 10. Wartburg is the only other league school in the top 25 at No. 11.
The Dutch are scheduled open outdoor competition at this weekend’s Washington-St. Louis Invitational at St. Louis, Mo. Start time is set for 10 a.m. Friday and Saturday.