15 NCAA Div. III individual championships
DECORAH—Central College’s Eli Horton (junior, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) swept the 1,500 and 5,000 meters and came away with men’s most valuable track performer honors at the Iowa Conference track and field championships Saturday.
Horton’s efforts helped carry an injury-battered Central squad to a second-place finish in the men’s meet. Wartburg won with 231 points to Central’s 166. Loras was third with 145. In the women’s competition, the Dutch were fourth with 94 points. Wartburg was first with 281.5 points. Luther followed with 178 and Loras had 119.5.
Horton has taken both races in each of his three years at Central. He finished the 1,500 meters in 3:52.17 and the 5,000 in 14:57.28. He also helped the 4x800-meter relay team place second Friday evening.
“Eli did a great job,” coach Joe Dunham said. “That’s a tribute to his hard work. He’s Mr. Consistency even though he’s competing under a lot of pressure. Everybody expects him to run fast and sometimes that’s a hard thing to do. I’m really proud of him. He deserves all the credit for his success.”
Horton previously won league MVP honors in cross country in 2012.
Dan Roemerman (sophomore, Iowa City, City HS) was also a repeat winner, taking first in the 110-meter hurdles for the second time, winning in 14.75 seconds.
“That’s a pretty incredible thing,” Dunham said.
The Dutch got a surprise victory in the javelin where freshman Kody Dailey (sophomore, Iowa City) threw nearly 18 feet beyond his personal best, winning at 183 feet.
“Kody had a huge PR,” Dunham said. “It was amazing to see how he competed when it mattered. He didn’t have the best marks coming in but he was really dialed in.”
Drew Jackson (junior, Johnston) led three placewinners in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning in 9:39.29. Dunham was equally impressed with Timothy Shepherd (junior, Knoxville) who placed second in 9:43.59, 47 seconds under his previous best.
“Tim was ranked ninth or 10th and to get second is incredible,” Dunham said.
Cody Doughan (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley) also ran a career-best, finishing sixth in 9:53.51.
“That really got things going in the right direction for us,” Dunham said.
Steven Messerschmidt (senior, Urbandale), who was second in the hammer throw Friday, came back to finish third in the shot put (49-1.5) and fourth in the discus (139-7).
“He went out on a very high note,” Dunham said, noting that Messerschmidt has hopes of reaching the NCAA Division III meet in the hammer throw.
Dunham was also enthused about a pair of placewinners in the triple jump. Senior Jordan Sump (Grimes, Dallas Center-Grimes HS) was fourth (44-7.5) and Brian Zahnle (junior, Morrison, Ill., Fulton HS) was fifth (44-3.25). Sump soared more than four feet beyond his previous best while Zahnle’s career best was 42-11.
“The energy in that event was incredible,” Dunham said. “That was an enormous PR for Jordan. There were a lot of people around the event who were screaming. It got really loud. Neither of them was supposed to place but they were really competing for their team.”
Jamie Vander Veer (junior, Knoxville) was third in the 800 meters and second behind Horton in the 1,500 (3:53.48). In the 5,000 meters, Isaac Steffensmeier (freshman, St. Paul, Fort Madison HS) was third (15:04.44) and Austin O’Brien (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) was fourth (15:05.27).
The team of Mason Zimmerman (junior, Urbandale), Roemerman, Austin Roberts (sophomore, Bloomfield, Davis County HS) and Jackson was fifth in the 4x400-meter relay (3:22.25).
Women’s relay makes NCAA bid—The Central women may have landed a spot in the NCAA Division III meet in the 4x400-meter relay. The unit of Allie McBroom (junior, Runnells, Southeast Polk HS), Abi Davis (sophomore, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS), Camie Kibbee (junior, Mason City) and Monica Ruiz (sophomore, Hudson) placed second in 3:50.71, a time which likely puts the Dutch in the national top eight, Dunham said.
Kibbee had earlier pulled a surprise in winning the 400 meters in 57.52 seconds, a career best. Meanwhile Davis had another productive day, placing second in the 100 meters (12.00 seconds) and the 200 (25.08 seconds). She also anchored Central’s 4x100-meter relay team which placed fifth in 48.69 seconds. She was joined by McKenna Zimmerman (sophomore, Urbandale), McBroom and Ruiz.
But likely the meet’s most emotional performance was turned in by senior Emma Nelson (senior, Hedrick, Pekin HS). Nelson lost her mother in a tragic storm just a few days ago, but took third place in 12:09.03, 18 seconds under her previous best.
“That was an incredible performance, to be able to compete that hard,” Dunham said. “We all knew she was doing it for her mom. For her to be all-conference, coming in you would have said no way.”
Yet another personal best came in the javelin, where senior Whitney Pavlat (Pella) captured the title at 132-8.
“That was a huge PR for Whitney,” Dunham said.
Elin Phipps (sophomore, Boone) was fourth in the 800 meters (2:13.97) while Meredith Zimmerman (junior, Urbandale) and McKenna Zimmerman were fourth (15.17 seconds) and seventh (15.48 seconds), respectively, in the 100 meter hurdles. McKenna Zimmerman was also fifth in the triple jump (35-3.25).
Dunham liked the resiliency both Central squads showed.
“What a crazy year,” he said. “We’ve had injury after injury. We were disappointed in our first day yesterday, but for them to turn it around and come back on the second day like they did was tremendous. Both the men’s and women’s teams really fought hard and got back to what Dutch track and field is all about. I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Several Central athletes will make NCAA qualifying attempts at last chance meets this week. The Dutch will likely compete at the Wis.-La Crosse Eagle Open Thursday and the Gregory Invitational at North Central in Naperville, Ill. Friday.