Division III Indoor Championships Preview

NEW ORLEANS – With the final positioning in the battles for the team titles at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships this weekend (March 14-15 in Lincoln, Neb.) having been determined earlier this week in the USTFCCCA National Team Computer Rankings, it’s time to look at the meet on a smaller scale.

Get out those performance lists and/or heat sheets because we’re diving into some of the main individual event plot points.

The Warm-Up Lap takes a quick look at each discipline for both men and women to highlight some of the main storlyines of the individual competition. For more detailed information, including schedules, heat sheets, and links to the live online broadcasts, be sure to check out the USTFCCCA National Championships Central page.

Quick Links: Sprints & Hurdles | Distance | Jumps | Throws | Combined

Sprints & Hurdles

Bruce Gray of Greenville or Thurgood Dennis of UW-Eau Claire? The question could lead to answering another question: who will win the 60 and/or 200 meters events?  Defending 60 meters champion Dennis is tied atop the 60 meters list at 6.75 with in-state rival Corey Broussard of UW-Whitewater, while Green is just .05 back in the No. 4 seed.

In the inaugural year of the 200 meters at the Division III indoor championships, Gray is the man to beat with a 21.36 qualifying time to No. 2 Dennis’ 21.39, which are both nearly .2 of a second faster than the rest of the field.

The women’s 60 meter race is also shaping up to be tight, with St. Thomas (Minn.)’s Mallory Burnham the top seed at 7.62 and six others within .1 of a second. Burnham is also the top seed in the 60-meter hurdles at 8.66, where she will square off with Ashante Little of Wheaton (Mass.).

Speaking of little, she is far and away the top seed at 400 meters in 54.82 by more than a second, and is No. 2 both at 200 meters and in the 60-meter hurdles. If all goes well, she could be the second woman in meet history to win three titles in a meet, with another, Sheila Trice of Christopher Newport in 1989, having won four. Melissa Norville of Illinois College accomplished the feat last year with titles in the 60-meter hurdles, long jump and triple jump.

A 200 meters title for Little could be tricky with UW-Whitewater’s Lexie Sondgeroth the heavy favorite by a third of a second at 24.33. She is also going for the triple with top seeds at 200 meters and in the long jump, and a No. 8 seed at 60 meters.

The men’s 400 features two sub-48 men at opposite ends of their careers in senior Matt Melton of Amherst and frosh Ross Denman of UW-La Crosse.

In a women’s team title race that is one of the closest in history, the deciding factor could well be the 4×400 relay finale. At 3:47.79, No. 3 Wartburg is the top seed by nearly two seconds over No. 1 UW-La Crosse, with defending national champion UW-Oshkosh just another second back in the fifth seed.

While the men’s team title race isn’t projected to be as close as the women’s, the 4×400 will likely still play a significant role in positioning with each of the top five teams represented in the meet’s final event – all separated in seed time by less than two seconds. No. 2 UW-Eau Claire at 3:14.56, No. 1 UW-La Crosse and No. 3 UW-Whitewater are all separated by less than half a second.

Southern Maine is the top seed by nearly a second over the remainder of the field at 3:13.56.

Distance

Could the men’s distance events be a chance for John Crain and the No. 5 North Central (Ill.) men to even the score after narrow defeats in both the individual and team cross country races this fall?

Apparently not content with how the cross country season ended in a runner-up finish, North Central (Ill.) is treating the men’s 5000 like a cross race with a full five-man scoring lineup set to compete, lead by fifth-seeded Crain. He will lead the Cardinals against a field that includes top seed Tim Hartung of York (Pa.) and cross country individual champ Mike LeDuc of Connecticut College, who out-sprinted Crain to the line during the fall.

Crain in 8:05.77 is the top seed at 3000 meters by a comfortable six-second margin over Grant Wintheiser of St. Olaf, which narrowly edged out Crain’s Cardinals during the cross season. He will also get another shot at taking down LeDuc.

As the all-time fastest miler in Division III indoor history, Bowdoin’s Coby Horowitz is the favorite in the mile by nearly six full seconds with his 4:00.41 record-setting performance earlier this season. He will also compete at 3000  meters.

Two young sub-1:50 men top the 800 meters list in Tufts sophomore Mitchell Black and UW-Oshkosh frosh McKena Ramos.

No. 4 UW-Oshkosh is the top seed in 9:47.47 in the distance medley relay by two seconds over No. 5 North Central, with No. 1 UW-La Crosse and No. 4 UW-Whitewater another two seconds back.

If the UW-Oshkosh women are to defend their national crown, they will lean heavily – as they did last year – on Christy Cazzola, the defending mile and 5000 meters champion. The difference this year is she has only about a month of training after a late start to her season.

She is the sixth seed both in the mile and at 3000 meters, and will have to wrangle the top honors from Luther’s Tricia Serres in both events. At 4:50.06 she is the top seed in the mile by two seconds and at 9:35.28 at 3000 meters she is clear of the field by nearly six seconds.

Cazzola will not attempt a defense of her 5000 meters title, leaving Lenore Moreno of La Verne as the top seed by six seconds in 16:45.51. ,She will be up against a potent field that includes cross country champion Chelsea Johnson after a relatively quiet indoor season and last year’s runner-up Nicole Michmerhuizen of Calvin.

Gabriella Gaudreault of Springfield is the top seed at 800 meters at 2:09.57 by more than a second over No. 2 Maggie Shelton of Johns Hopkins and the rest of the field, which is only separated by a little more than three seconds.

Cazzola and UW-Oshkosh are the top seeds in the distance medley relay by more than a second at 11:43.60. Wartburg is two seconds back followed by UW-La Crosse another two seconds later.

Jumps

Only James Wilson of Monmouth (Ill.) returns as a defending champion among all the men’s and women’s jumps events. He is the top seed in his signature event. Also in the field is 2012 champion Jonas Elusme of Wartburg.

A number of competitors are back after finishing runners-up a year ago, however.

Sondgeroth of UW-Whitewater is the top seed in the long jump after a second-place showing a year ago, while Divya Biswal of St. Lawrence is seeded third in the triple jump following last season’s runner-up finish. Emilia Scheemaker of Ithaca is the top seed.

In the women’s high jump, Emily Tysma of Monmouth (Ill.) is seeded No. 6 after a 2013 competition that saw her lose the title on misses after tying for the highest clearance.

On the men’s side, Trevor James of Carthage also lost the title on misses a year ago, and is slated for an equally close competition in 2014 with Elusme of Wartburg seeded just half of an inch lower than his 7-½ (2.15m).

Rob Rohe of UW-La Crosse was runner-up in the pole vault a year ago, but has some work ahead of him in 2014 as the No. 9 seed entering the championships.  Rick Valcin of Dubuque is the top seed by nearly half a foot at 16-8¾ (5.10m).

Jamie Ruginski of Southern Maine at 50-9½ (15.48m) is the favorite by more than a foot over the rest of the field in the triple jump.

Rounding out the women’s events is the pole vault, where Marissa Kalsey of Westminster (Pa.) is the top seed as the only DIII woman over 13 feet this year.

Throws

Sean Donnelly, the No. 2 man in Division III weight throw history on the all-time performers list, is by more than two feet the top seed in the 2014 weight throw championships. Top 2013 returner Grant Havard of UW-La Crosse is the second seed after finishing fourth a year ago.

The men’s shot put could be the closest competition of any throwing event at the meet, if the seeding translates into performance. Wartburg’s Colt Feltes is the top seed at 58-½ (17.69m), with three other men within about a foot of him – all of whom, including Feltes, are juniors. Donnelly sits at No. 3 hoping to pull off the throws double.

The roles are reversed in the women’s competition with a significant favorite in the shot put and what looks to be a tightly contested weight throw event.

Jecel Klotz of UW-Oshkosh is the top woman in the shot put by just about two feet with her 49-9¼ (15.17m) toss two weekends ago.

Meanwhile in the weight throw, Klotz’ teammate Melanie Brickner is the top seed at 61-4¼ (18.70m) by just less than half of a foot over Amina Avril of Williams and by another four inches over in-state rival Shelby Mahr of UW-Whitewater.

Combined Events

The women’s pentathlon and men’s heptathlon at the beginning of the weekend could very well end up being the most outstanding competition of the entire weekend.

Newly crowned Division III pentathlon record holder Amelia Campbell of Carleton is the top seed at 3936 – better than anyone in Division II – but she will still have her work cut out for her with five of the next nine best women in Division III history also in the field.

Here’s a list of just some of her top competition:

  • Jana Hieber, Tufts – 3644 (No. 5 on the all-time DIII performers list)
  • Jessika Smith, UW-Stout – 3616 (2013 runner-up, No. 6 all-time)
  • Meagan Ward, UW-Stout – 3610 (No. 7 all-time)
  • Allie Boudreau, Illinois Wesleyan – 3609 (No. 8 all-time)
  • Charity Arn, George Fox – 3547 (No. 10 all-time)

Needless to say, the meet record of 3725 might be in jeopardy.

On the men’s side, Brandon Zarnoth of UW-Eau Claire is the favorite by more than 100 points at 5409, but lurking at No. 10 on the performance list is Richard Roethel of Christopher Newport – the 2012 champion and Division III record holder.