Spain, Flores Are Division III’s National Men’s Athletes of the Year
NEW ORLEANS – The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced on Wednesday that North Central College’s Mike Spain and Cal Lutheran’s Eric Flores was named the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field National Athletes of the Year. Spain led North Central on the track to a second-straight NCAA team title while Flores won his second-in-a-row NCAA crown with the hammer and doubled with a close win in the shot put.
NATIONAL MEN’S TRACK ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Mike Spain, North Central (Ill.)
Spain, a senior from Schuamburg, Ill., won NCAA outdoor titles in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters, leading the Cardinals to their second-consecutive NCAA outdoor team crown. Spain, outdistanced UW-Eau Claire’s Thomas Breitbach in both races. In the 10,000 meters, Spain and Breitbach were neck-and-neck and both sprinted home in a flurry, but Spain was the one-second victor in 29:58.92. Two days later in the 5000, Spain had control in the waning minutes, breaking from the pack with 200 to go to score the 14:41.15 winning time.
Spain was the first since Widener’s Macharia Yuot (2006) to pull the 5k-10k double at the NCAA D-III Outdoor Championships.
Spain was part of a North Central 1-2-3 sweep of the 10k at the CCIW Championships, and Spain was the trail of the trio as he finished third in the group that was within 59 hundredths of a second of each other.
2011: Mike Spain, North Central (Ill.)
2010: Steve Headley, Springfield (Mass.)
2009: Peter Kosgei, Hamilton
2008: Peter Kosgei, Hamilton
2007: Will Leer, Pomona-Pitzer
2006: Macharia Yuot, Widener
NATIONAL MEN’S FIELD ATHLETE OF THE YEAR: Eric Flores, Cal Lutheran
Flores, a senior from Custer, S.D., scored double national crowns as the NCAA’s top finisher in the shot put and hammer throw. The hammer title, won with a toss of 213-11 (65.21m) was Flores’ second-consecutive. The shot put crown was harder to come by as Flores would need his final toss of 57-5¾ (17.52m) to pass UW-La Crosse’s Andy Novak – who initially went from third to first on his final throw – by a mere centimeter.
Flores ended the season outpacing the rest of Division III this season by more than 20 feet in the hammer throw. Flores was also the SCIAC champ with the hammer and shot this season.
2011: Eric Flores, Cal Lutheran
2010: Eric Flores, Cal Lutheran
2009: Josh Lovell, Linfield
2008: Kyle Steiner, UW-Stevens Point
2007: Al Winsley, Mississippi College
2006: Matt Roberson, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps