Division III Championships Preview

Division III Championships Preview

NEW ORLEANS – It has been an unseasonably cold spring up in La Crosse, Wis., but the weather has turned the corner just in time for the Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships at UW-La Crosse Thursday through Saturday.

Temperatures in the 60s and 70s are projected throughout the meet and though Saturday’s finals might see some rain, it should not dampen what are shaping up to be excellent races for the team titles. Individual storylines also run thick, as well, with a number of former champions attempting to defend or reclaim their titles and a few all-time top-10 matchups.

The Details

May 23-25 | Full Schedule | Host: UW-La Crosse | La Crosse, Wis. – Roger Harring Stadium
Follow Live: Live Stream | Live Results
Entries: MEN | WOMEN
Start Lists: Combined
Entry Leaders: By Team | By Conference
National Championships Central

Team Races

Spring cleaning will be on the mind of a pair of Wisconsin programs, as the UW-La Crosse men and the UW-Oshkosh women will look to complete sweeps of both the indoor and outdoor Division III track and field team titles.

The UWL men are in good position entering the championships to make that a reality, pacing the pack at No. 1 in the USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings, but the No. 1 defending outdoor champion Wartburg women will have a significant say in UW-Oshkosh’s plans.

According to the computer projections, UW-La Crosse is favored over the No. 2 Oshkosh men to take the title, while the Wartburg women are similarly favored over No. 2 Oshkosh. Both are favored by approximately 40 points in terms of the computer rankings — which do not use the same scoring system as the championships — meaning it is certainly within the realm of possibility that the difference can be overcome depending how the championships play out.

Each of those four teams, in addition to the UW-La Crosse women, have been No. 1 at one point or another this season.

Men’s USTFCCCA Top 5

Rank Team Score
1. UW-La Crosse ^ 244.81
2. UW-Oshkosh 218.11
3. UW-Eau Claire 178.03
4. UW-Whitewater 121.66
5. Whitworth 120.67

Women’s USTFCCCA Top 5

Rank Team Score
1. Wartburg * 169.94
2. UW-Oshkosh ^ 126.81
3. UW-La Crosse 102.23
4. Illinois College 99.46
5. Wheaton (Mass.) 86.12

* defending outdoor champion
^ 2013 indoor champion

Historically speaking, a breakthrough to win the title after two consecutive runner-up showings for the UW-La Crosse men would be their first since 2007 when they claimed their sixth in seven seasons. Three of the past four Division III track & field seasons have ended with a men’s team sweeping both the indoor and outdoor titles — North Central (Ill.) in 2011 and 2010, and Oshkosh in 2009 after splitting the indoor crown with La Crosse — and 2013 indoor champ UW-La Crosse would continue the trend with an outdoor team title of their own.

As the host of the meet, UW-La Crosse would be the first men’s team to win on its home track since North Central (Ill.) split with Lincoln (Pa.) in Napersville, Ill., in 2000. The Eagles previously won while hosting in 1997.

Oshkosh’s men would claim the title for the first time since their indoor-outdoor 2009 sweep, which is their only outdoor title in program history. Defending men’s champion North Central (Ill.) is No. 7 in the USTFCCCA rankings entering the championships.

The battle between the women’s squads are Wartburg and Oshkosh has roots stretching back to 2009, when Wartburg took down Oshkosh for the outdoor title. Since then each team has claimed an outdoor title — Warburg last season and Oshkosh in 2011 — and Oshkosh hasn’t finished lower than runner-up. A title for the Knights of Wartburg would be their second straight, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since, you guessed it, Oshkosh in 2006 and 2007.

For Oshkosh, its first outdoor title since 2011 would complete the season sweep, adding them to a long list of nine teams that have done so since 2000. The last time a season sweep didn’t occur was 2010 when Illinois Wesleyan denied Wartburg the honor.

UW-La Crosse would win its first title since 1984 when the Eagles claimed two of the first three women’s track & field titles after the sport became sponsored by the NCAA. Their best finish since was a runner-up showing in 1997.

The battle for positioning gets very tight after No. 4 in the latest rankings, with 10 teams separated by 20 points in the rankings.


Event-By-Event Preview

Championship experience is in no short supply among the student-athletes in the field this weekend, with 17 competitors bringing a combined 22 NCAA titles into competition this weekend — 15 of which will be title defenses. A full breakdown of active NCAA champions is listed below.

Active Division III Outdoor Individual Champions

Men   Women
Name/School Event (Year)   Name/School Event/Year
Sean Bernstein/SUNY Oneonta 200 (2012)   Mary Mahoney/Mount Union 200 (2012)
Dan Sullivan/UW-Stevens Point 1500 (2012)   Christy Cazzola/UW-Oshkosh 1500 (2012)
Trevor James/Carthage HJ (2012)     1500 (2012)
Jonas Elusme/Wartburg HJ (2011)   Tiarra Goode/Birmingham-Southern 100h (2012)
Isaac Vazquez/UW-La Crosse LJ (2012)   Heather Gearity/Montclair State 400h (2012)
  TJ (2011)   Keri Lambert/Amherst 3000s (2012)
Paul Turner/La Verne LJ (2011)   Elizabeth Evans/Rose-Hulman HJ (2012)
Carter Comito DT (2012)     HJ (2011)
  DT (2011)   Melissa Norville/Illinois College TJ (2012)
Pete Delzer/UW-Oshkosh HT (2012)   Tanasia Hoffler/Williams TJ (2011)
Tim VanLiew/Rutgers Camden JT (2012)     TJ (2010)


Former champions will square off in both the women’s and men’s triple jump and the men’s high jump. Melissa Norville of Illinois College is the defending champ in the women’s triple jump, but she has been in fierce competition against Williams’ Tanasia Hoffler since their freshman seasons in 2010. Hoffler won the crowns in 2010 and 2011, but Norville enters as the top seed this season looking for a two-title streak of her own.

The men’s triple jump competition will feature the past two long jump champs in La-Crosse’s Isaac Vazquez, who also won a triple jump title in 2011, and La Verne’s Paul Turner, who took the long jump crown in 2011.

The third champions challenge will be defending men’s high jump winner Trevor James of Carthage against 2011 champ Jonas Elusme of Wartburg

100 Meters
This is the first of two likely clashes between No. 1 Thurgood Dennis of UW-Eau Claire (10.30) and No. 2 Sean Bernstein of Oneonta State (10.32), who are both seeded more than two-tenths of a second fastest than the field — which itself is only separated by two-tenths of a second between No. 3 and No. 20. On the women’s side Sasha Henry is the top seed at 11.86 with five other sprinters seeded faster than 12.00.

200 Meters
Bernstein of Oneonta State is the defending champion in this event, but again he will face stiff competition as the No. 2 seed (20.97) from top seed Dennis of UW-Eau Claire (20.96) and Greenville’s Bruce Gray at No. 3 (20.98). The women’s race also features a defending champion in Mount Union’s Mary Mahoney, who is seeded No. 2 at 24.28 behind No. 1 Tiarra Goode of Birmingham Southern at 24.22. Goode could potentially triple with titles at 100 and 200 meters and in the 100 hurdles, where she is the defending champ.

400 Meters
Mahoney of Mount Union is the top seed in the women’s race at 54.73 with No. 2 Jaimee Dorsey of RIC the only other sprinter sub-55 at 54.95 among four student-athletes within a second of Mahoney. On the men’s side Whitter freshman German Fabela is the pre-meet favorite with the only sub-47 time in 46.94. The pack is bunched up tight behind him, with the top 13 seeds all within a minute of one another.

800 Meters
Three of the all-time top-10 DIII outdoor 800 meter runners will be in action in La Crosse in No. 2 all-time and top-seeded Christy Cazzola of UW-Oshkosh (2:05.22), No. 4 all-time and No. 2 seed Tara Clemens of Illinois Wesleyan (2:06.60) and No. 10 all-time and No. 3 seeded Juliet Ryan-Davis of Middlebury (2:07.73). While those top three on the women’s side are separated by just over two seconds with the remainder of the field at least two more back, the entire men’s field is within 2½ seconds of top-seeded Luke Vance of Wheaton (Ill.) at 1:49.91.

1500 Meters
Cazzola of Oshkosh has had a stranglehold on the women’s competition with two consecutive titles in the event, and with the second-fastest time in division history earlier this season at 4:18.22 seeding her nearly seven seconds faster than No. 2, she may well be on her way to a third. No. 2 Sheena Crawley of Franklin & Mary (4:25.10), No. 3 Annie Monagle of Johns Hopkins (4:25.49) and No. 4 Tricia Serres of Luther (4:26.39) will also battle for the top spots. Defending men’s champion Dan Sullivan of UW-Stevens Point is also back to reclaim his title as the No. 1 seed in 3:46.66, up against a quartet of sub-3:49 runners.

3000 steeplechase
Defending women’s champion Keri Lambert of Amherst is the top seed by nearly six seconds at 10:26.16 with a group of 10 within 15 seconds of one another between seeds No. 2 and 11. The men’s race should be very tight with the entire field separated by 15 seconds from No. 1 Jack Davis of Middlebury at 8:52.12 and No. 2 Michael LeDuc of Connecticut College at 8:54.80 to No. 20 Jordan Kremer of North Central (Ill.) at 9:09.44.

5000 meters
The men’s race is setting up to be very tight, starting with the narrow gap between No. 1 Eli Horton of Central (Iowa) at 14:12.40, No. 2 John Crain of North Central (Ill.) at 14:12.80 and No. 3 Jordan Schilit of Haverford at 14:13.58 and working down through the entire field only seeded 18 seconds back of Horton. The top women’s seeds are Taylor Berg of St. Thomas (Minn.) at 16:34.51 and Hannah Oneda of Johns Hopkins at 16:35.56, but keep an eye on Calvin’s Nicole Michmerhuizen, who equalled her seed time of 16:55.03 in the second-half of her top-ranked 10,000 meters race, and Cazzola of UW-Oshkosh at No. 14, who owns the DIII indoor 5000 record. Cazzola and Michmerhuizen finished 1-2 at the indoor nationals.

10,000 meters
Both the men’s and women’s races have clear favorites with all-time DIII top-10 performers in William Jones of Franciscan (Ohio) at No. 2 all-time in 29:11.37 and Michmerhuizen of Calvin at No. 7 in 34:09.96. No. 2 Lenore Moreno (35:00.43) is the only runner seeded within a minute of Michmerhuizen, while Jones will have to contend with 14 other runners seeded within 60 seconds, including No. 2 Aaron Easker of UW-Eau Claire who is just outside of the all-time top 10 at 29:33.37.

100/110 hurdles
Another trio of all-time top-10 performers will take the track in the women’s 100 hurdles, where defending champion Tiarra Goode — the No. 5 seed at 14.19 and No. 6 on the all-time list with a 13.87 PR — will have to deal with top-seeded and No. 9 all-time Ashante Little of Wheaton (Mass.) at 13.89 and No. 3 Norville of Illinois College at No. 3 in 14.00 with her fifth-fastest DIII PR of 13.84. Wartburg’s Camesha Goods is also sub-14 at No. 2 in 13.96. Adam Scalesse of Coast Guard is No. 1 on the men’s side at 14.16, followed closely by No. 2 matt Bundy of Wesley at 14.26.

400 hurdles
Defending women’s champ Heather Gearity of Montclair State is back as the top seed and the only student-athlete in the division to break 1:00 this season at 59.80, placing her in a tie for No. 10 on the all-time DIII list. No. 2 Tashina McAllister of Wartburg (1:00.23) and No. 3 Amanda Coglianese (1:00.79) are the only two within a minute of Gearity. The men’s race should be very tight, with the top 10 seeds within a second of top-ranked Tyler Mettille of Mount Union’s 51.48.

4×100 Relay
In the race between UW-La Crosse and UW-Oshkosh for the men’s title, the No. 1 Eagles posses the top-ranked 4×100 relay at 40.52, while the No. 2 Titans are seeded No. 7 at 41.35. Whitter at No. 2 or UW-Whitewater at No. 3 are both also sub-41 this season. Between the three women’s teams UW-La Crosse holds the advantage in this event as the top seed at 46.10, with Wartburg at No. 3 in 46.89 and Oshkosh without a team.

4×400 Relay
Should No. 3 UW-Eau Claire be challenging for the men’s title at the very conclusion of the meet, the squad will be boosted by its top-ranked 4×400 team at 3:08.31, more than a second faster than No. 2 Augustana (Ill.) and four seconds faster than No. 3 MIT. La Crosse (3:12.46) and Oshkosh (3:12.68 are the No. 4 and 5 seeds, respectively. The Mount Union women are the top seed at 3:46.36. La Crosse (No. 5, 3:48.91) has the advantage over Wartburg at 11 (3:50.36) and Oshkosh at 13 (3:50.88), but anything goes if the team title is on the line in the final event.

High Jump
Having tied or broken the DIII outdoor high jump record three times this season, it would only be fitting for Rose-Hulman’s Elizabeth Evans to go out with three consecutive outdoor titles in her senior season. She is the top seed with her all-time mark of 6-0 (1.83m), a full four inches higher than No. 2 Abena Boamah-Acheampong of Wooster. Meanwhile in the men’s competition, Carthage’s No. 2 James (6-11½/2.12m) and Wartburg’s No. 5 Elusme (6-10¾/2.10m) — both of whom are juniors — will wrangle for their second NCAA outdoor title, but sophomore Carl Joseph of UMass Boston enters as the favorite as the only DIII student-athlete to clear seven feet this season at 7-1 (2.16m).

Pole Vault
The women’s championship record has been broken in each of the past four seasons, most recently by Catherine Street of Linfield in 13-9¼ (4.20) last season. Ramapo’s Michelle Favre is the top seed at 13-5¼ (4.10m), but she surpassed Street’s mark indoors this season. Can she surpass it again outdoors to keep the record-setting streak alive at five? Josh Winder is the favorite on the men’s side, with a division-leading mark of 17-¾ (5.20m) as the only vaulter to clear 17 feet outdoors this season.

Long Jump
The men’s event features defending champion Isaac Vazquez of UW-La Crosse as the top seed at 25-2 (7.67m), about half a foot ahead of No. 2 Justin Bowers of UW-Whitewater at 24-6½ (7.48m) and a field that includes 2011 high jump champ Elusme of Wartburg at No. 4. Norville of Illinois College is the top seed on the women’s side as the only DIII woman to surpass 20 feet this season at 20-4¼ (6.20m). Lehman’s Tobi Alli at No. 2 (19-8¼/6.00m), No. 3 Sarah Bonnell of Cortland State (19-5¼/5.92m) and No. 4 Lexie Sondgeroth (19-4¾/5.91m) are the only other jumpers within a foot of Norville.

Triple Jump
Norville again headlines the women’s triple jump at 41-11½ (12.79m), looking for a second straight title after winning in 2012. In winning her title last season, Norville broke Williams’ Tanasia Hoffler’s streak of two titles from 2010 to 2011. Both are seniors now, with Norville ranked No. 1 and Hoffler No. 3 at 41-6 (12.65m). Claremont-Mudd-Scripps’ Reny Colton is also heavily in contention at No. 2 at 41-8 (12.70m). The past two long jump champs will go head-to-head on the men’s side in La Crosse’s No. 2 Vazquez — who won the 2011 triple jump — at 50-2½ (15.31m) and 2011 long jump winner Paul Turner of La Verne, No. 19 at 47-5¼ (14.46m). Both are looking up at top seed Marcus Smith of UW-Whitewater at 52-11 (16.13m), the No. 2 mark in division history.

Shot Put
The women’s competition is shaping up to be very close, with three throwers past 48 feet this season, led by top-seeded Kayla Hemann of Wartburg at 48-9½ (14.87m). LeAnn Spesard of Millikin at 48-8 (14.83m) and Chelsea Tavik of Salisbury at 48-4¾ (14.75m) are right behind her. David Pless of Bates is the favorite on the men’s side at 61-10½ (18.86m), joining No. 2 Nick Baatz of Oshkosh 60-4¾ (18.41m) as the only two throwers farther than 60 feet this season. Pless is seeded in the top five in the shot, discus and hammer. Sitting back in No. 3 is Whitworth’s Carter Comito, who could potentially take both the shot put and discus throws.

Discus Throw
Comito of Whitworth — going for a third straight NCAA title in the event — is the heavy favorite in the men’s event as one of just three men in division history to surpass 200 feet in the event, No. 2 all-time at 203-5 (62.00). Defiance’s Tom Postema — himself has a chance at a discus/hammer double — is a distant No. 2 at 184-7 (56.27m). The women’s competition also has a strong favorite in Tufts’ Kelly Allen at 162-5 (49.52m), leading by nearly six feet over No. 2 Bailey Soucie of Nebraska Wesleyan.

Hammer Throw
Continuing the theme of dominant favorites in the throws events, Postema of Defiance is the top seed in the hammer at 215-10 (65.80m) for the No. 3 mark in DIII history, more than four meters clear of Pless of Bates at No. 2 (201-11/61.54m) and No. 3 Josh Kuusisto of Greenville (201-10/61.53m). Defending champion Pete Delzer of Oshkosh is No. 7. The women’s competition is much tighter, with Krista Chauvin of UMass Dartmouth the top seed at 188-10 (57.57m), followed by No. 2 Allison Devor of Monmouth (Ill.), No. 3 Becky Huberty of St. Scholastica and No. 4 Amina Avril of Williams less than a meter-and-a-half back.

Javelin Throw
Rutgers-Camden’s Tim VanLiew will be going for his second consecutive title in the event as the top seed at 226-9 (69.11m) by more than four meters over No. 2 Jared Minori of Susquehanna at 216-0 (65.84m). Seeds No. 2 through 9 are all within two meters of one another. The top six in the women’s competition are all within a meter of one another, with a tight battle at the top between freshmen Allie Hadley of Cal Lutheran at 149-5 (45.54m) and Kerry Wright of Whitworth at 149-0 (45.42m), with senior Beth Stam of George Fox at No. 3 at 147-8 (45.00m).

Eric Larson of Central (Iowa) is the top seed in the men’s decathlon at 6,717, leading No. 2 Zach Anderson of UW-Stout (6,597) by more than 100 and the rest of the field by more than 200. A little less than 500 points separates Larson from the No. 20 qualifier. Stam of George Fox is the favorite on the women’s side with a score of 4,815, but the entire field is separated by fewer than 400 points with 10 having scored 4,600 or better — three of whom are within 100 points in Kaari Jensen of Concordia-Moorhead (4,760), Elizabeth Krug of Hendrix (4,733) and Theresa Ford of Emory (4,729).