15 NCAA Div. III individual championships
DECORAH—Junior Eli Horton (Runnells, Southeast Polk HS) led the Central College men’s track and field team’s distance contingent with three individual titles en route to the track events MVP award, paving the way for a runner-up team finish at the Iowa Conference indoor track and field championships this weekend at Decorah.
Competing without multi-eventer Eric Larson (junior, Waverly, Waverly-Shell Rock HS), who missed the weekend due to injury, the defending champion Dutch men finished second with 169.5 points. Larson was an all-league honoree at last year’s indoor meet, winning the 55-meter hurdles and finishing second in the high jump, long jump and pole vault.
“We fought hard,” coach Joe Dunham said. “We had our backs against the wall, but we put ourselves in contention and gave ourselves a chance to win.
“It was inspiring to be a part of it.”
Wartburg topped the standings with 188 points. Loras was third with 117, followed by Dubuque, Buena Vista, championships host Luther, Simpson and Coe.
“Our assistant coaches did a spectacular job,” said Dunham. “Our athletes were ready and posted a lot of great times and marks. Our program would not be where it is today without our coaching staff. I’m very blessed to be a part of that and they deserve a lot of credit.”
Horton won the mile run, 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs, all in championship-record-setting fashion.
“Eli was great this weekend,” Dunham said. “It’s a tribute to his hard work, commitment and desire to win. Austin ran side-by-side with Eli in each race and should be really proud of his performances as well.”
In Saturday’s mile, Horton edged out teammate Austin O’Brien (senior, Bettendorf, Pleasant Valley HS) at the tape in 4:13.13. O’Brien finished in 4:13.46. Drew Jackson (junior, Johnston) was third in 4:18.86.
“Drew was not to be denied this weekend,” said Dunham. “He won at the tape in the distance medley relay and posted a great effort in the mile.”
Shortly thereafter, Horton set yet another championship mark in the 3,000-meter run, crossing the line in 8:24.56. O’Brien finished runner-up once again, crossing in what would have been a championship-record time of 8:24.68. Jackson and Cole Decker (sophomore, Des Moines, Dowling Catholic HS) placed seventh and eighth, respectively.
In Friday’s 5,000-meter run, Horton shattered the league championship record by more than 17 seconds, crossing the line in 14:27.80. The event proved even more fruitful for the Dutch, who finished 1-2-4-5 individually. O’Brien was second in 14:46.04, while Decker and freshman Isaac Steffensmeier (St. Paul, Fort Madison HS) finished in 14:54.19 and 15:03.28, respectively.
After all was said and done, the Dutch scored 72 points in the three distance events.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our distance runners,” Dunham said. “They stepped up, answered the call and scored a lot of points.”
Central’s distance medley relay team of Jamie Vander Veer (junior, Knoxville), Jordan Sump (senior, Grimes, Dallas Center-Grimes HS), Kyle Nuehring (sophomore, Waukee) and Drew Jackson (junior, Johnston) won Friday’s league title in 10:10.25, less than one second in front the second-place team. Vander Veer also earned all-league honors with a third-place finish in the 800-meter run in 1:55.80, while teammate LJ Lipscomb (junior, Johnston) placed seventh in 1:57.89.
Central’s 4x800-meter relay team of Lipscomb, Nuehring, Steffensmeier and Vander Veer placed fifth in 8:06.30 as well.
Thrower Steven Messerschmidt (senior, Neola, Tri-Center HS) placed second in Saturday’s weight throw after a second-place finish in Friday’s shot put with a personal-record toss of 51-1.75. Both performances garnered all-league honors.
Multi-eventer Jaemin Powell (sophomore, Wellman, Mid-Prairie HS) finished runner-up in the heptathlon with 4,376 points. He also finished third in Friday’s open long jump with a leap of 21-11.75, a personal-best distance for all-league honors.
“Jaemin had a phenomenal weekend,” Dunham said. “To do it in the multi-events and in the open long jump was terrific. He’s still learning, but it was a really good effort.”
Sprinter Mason Zimmerman (junior, Urbandale) was also a runner-up finisher, but in the 200-meter dash in 22.86, with teammates Mitch Wagoner (senior, Iowa Falls, Iowa Falls-Alden HS) and Spencer Hammack (sophomore, Ottumwa) coming in sixth and seventh.
“Mason’s finish in the 200 was cool, being as he was in the “slower” heat,” said Dunham “It was a great effort on his part.”
Zimmerman, Austin Roberts (sophomore, Bloomfield, Davis HS), Sump and Hammack combined for a third-place finish in the 4x400-meter relay in 3:27.17. Hammack and Roberts also finished seventh and eighth in the 400-meter dash, respectively, in 51.90 and 52.65 seconds. Hammack was seventh in the 200-meter dash as well.
Jake Forgie (junior, Le Claire, Pleasant Valley HS) and fellow hurdler Dan Roemerman (sophomore, Iowa City, City High HS) placed fourth and seventh in Saturday’s 55-meter hurdles final, respectively. Forgie finished in 8.14 seconds, while Roemerman finished in 8.45. Forgie was one of only two hurdlers to outpace his preliminary time. Roemerman also placed sixth in the 55-meter dash in 6.72 seconds.
“Jake had a great weekend,” said Dunham. “Making the finals was already a good effort, and finishing fourth was even better. He has a lot of potential and it was great to see him reach it and exceed expectations.”
High jumper Logan Mulford (freshman, Mount Pleasant) placed tied for seventh, clearing 6-1.5.
The Dutch will send a small group of athletes to Saturday’s Pointer Qualifier at Stevens Point, Wis., in hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Division III championships March 14-15 at Lincoln, Neb. Numerous Central athletes already own strong qualifying times and will stand pat over the next week.