Mount Union men win indoor title on last event

Mount Union celebrates
The Mount Union men's indoor track team celebrates its first-ever Walnut and Bronze, joining the outdoor title it won in 2014.
Photos by Ryan Coleman, d3photography.com
 

Mount Union claimed its first-ever men's indoor track and field team title at the 2018 NCAA Division III Championships on at CrossPlex on March 10 in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Purple Raiders tallied 41 points to edge out North Central (Ill.) by a single point (40) while Rowan (37 points) and UW-Eau Claire (24) rounded out the top four spots.

2018 men's indoor track standings

1. Mount Union 41
2. North Central (Ill.) 40
3. Rowan 37
4. UW-Eau Claire 29
5. UW-La Crosse 28
6. Benedictine 26
7. UW-Stout 22
8. Christopher Newport 19

It is the 16th national title for the school as Mount Union has a record 13 titles in football, including this past year, the 1974 men's cross country title and the 2014 outdoor track and field title.

Similar to 2014, everything came down to the last event -- the 4x400 meter relay -- and just like 2014 the Raiders won the event and the title.

Senior Tyler Neff, juniors James Roth and Clark Etzler along with sophomore AJ Digby posted a season-best time of 3:13.77 to get the win and the final 10 team points, as the Purple Raiders foursome edged runner-up North Central by 0.71 seconds.

Mount Union also got a win in the 60-meter hurdles from sophomore Mason Plant, who posted a school-record time of 8.00 seconds. It was his second All-American finish in the event as he placed third in 2017.

The Raiders were just 0.01 from picking up another event win as Louis Berry was second in the 60 meter dash with a time of 6.79 seconds. It was his second career All-American place in the event as he was sixth in 2016. He also won Walnut and Bronze with the Purple Raiders football team this past fall, where he was a starting defensive back.

A pair of sophomores completed the scoring for Mount Union in field events in Sean Sherman and Matt Keim.

Sherman became an indoor All-American for the first time as he finished fourth in the shot put with a throw of 56 feet, 3 inches. Sherman also played for the Purple Raiders football team in the national championship game win vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor, on the offensive line. On Friday, Keim had a mark of 16-foot, 6.75-inches in the pole vault to place second and claim All-American honors for the first time in his career.

North Central's Dhruvil Patel emerged victorious in the 5,000-meter run. In third place for most of the final mile, Patel darted inside race leader Darin Lau of the UW-Eau Claire, the Division III national cross country champion last fall, and took the lead with one lap remaining. Patel surged away to win in a personal-best time of 14 minutes, 22.48 seconds.

Pentathlon duo pushes, helps each other

Degen and Sundstrom
St. Benedict athletics
 

The word 'compete' comes from Latin origins, meaning to meet or come together, or to seek together.
 
This past weekend, Megan Sundstrom and Jenna Degen proved that they truly know how to compete – how to seek together.
 
Heading into the last chance meets for the indoor track and field season, Sundstrom – a senior on the College of Saint Benedict track and field team – was ranked 17th in Division III in the pentathlon and Degen, a junior, had yet to compete. Degen, the 2017 MIAC pentathlon champion and indoor All-American, had been sick during the 2018 conference meet and hadn't completed a pentathlon this season.
 
Sundstrom, who finished in the top 12 in the nation in the pent at the 2017 indoor national championships, would be the last one accepted into the 2018 field – if no one recorded a better score than her at a last chance meet – so the duo headed to the Wartburg Qualifier to try to qualify.
 
Degen took third in the 60 hurdles to start the five-event competition and Sundstrom finished fifth. Degen got third again in the high jump while Sundstrom took sixth, and a fourth for Degen in the shot put – despite a new PR – and a sixth for Sundstrom meant they both needed big marks in the next event. Long jump is typically the best event for both athletes, but Degen fouled twice – including a big final jump – and Sundstrom also had a long foul, and they finished sixth and seventh.
 
With only the 800-meter run remaining, Sundstrom knew it would take an incredible time for her to improve on her season-best pentathlon score. Degen, however, had a shot. She would need a 2:28 to try and bump her score up where it would need to be to have a shot at qualifying for nationals. Sundstrom, who had competed in – and won – the MIAC pentathlon the week before and then several individual events and relays at the MIAC Championships, was still recovering and knew she couldn't run a full 800, nor was it worth it. But Degen could and, with some help, she could run the time she needed.
 
So Sundstrom agreed to run as a pacer for her teammate.
 
At the start of the race, Sundstrom told the other runners in the field her intentions: she would be running 36 or 37-second laps to pace Degen, but she was dropping out after 600 meters.
 
"It was hard when I realized that my chances of going (to nationals) this year were slim. Ultimately, though, it wasn't a hard decision to help pace Jenna because I would still be proud that anyone from CSB went to nationals. It doesn't have to be me. Since Jenna had a better shot, I figured that made more sense to help her," Sundstrom said. "I told the other runners what I was doing because it ultimately helped all of the runners because they knew I was running a 36-37 second lap pace, so it helped them to push themselves and shoot for their own PRs."
 
The gun sounded, and Sundstrom took off and quickly settled in ahead of the rest of the field. Head coach Robin Balder-Lanoue and assistant coach Julia Renner staggered themselves around the track to help her keep track of the pacing. Around each curve of the 200-meter track, Sundstrom would look back and shout words of encouragement to Degen. "Stick with me, Jenna! You have to stay up here!"
 
After three laps, Sundstrom pulled to the side of the track and watched the other runners pass. Degen held the lead for 100 meters or so, and ended up taking second in 2:30.22 – just shy of the 2:28 they were looking for, but an excellent time considering she had been fighting illness for several weeks.
 
"Jenna needed to run a 2:28 to score, and she has run a 2:26," Sundstrom said. "It is definitely a daunting feat, especially running alone. So I did what any teammate would do, and I did what I could to help Jenna. I know she would have done it for me."
 
Neither athlete ended up qualifying for the indoor national championships, but they came up just short. Degen's score of 3, 280 was 20th – just 12 points behind the 17th-place cutoff – and Sundstrom's score of 3,266 from the Bison Invitational in January left in her in 21st.
 
"I'm very proud of both Megan and myself to be able to compete like we did at the meet, especially considering the circumstances," Degen said. "I feel so grateful to be able to have a teammate like Megan who is able to push me to be the best athlete on the track, but also the best person and teammate every day. I don't think either of us would have the success we do if we didn't have each other.
 
"I think we are a truly special duo, and it makes for a very special thing when a teammate knows when to push you, but also knows when you just need a hug or to be left alone."
 
Both athletes look to make their return to the national championships in May at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor National Championships in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Degen finished third and earned All-American in the heptathlon as a sophomore, and Sundstrom finished in the top 15 in the nation. Balder-Lanoue knows that if one is there at outdoor nationals, the other one will be as well.
 
"Being a Blazer means you are in this program to be the best teammate and the best athlete you can be every day. Being a great teammate isn't just about always encouraging your teammate; some days, it is about giving a kick in the butt, and other days it's about giving a hug," she said. "As (Jenna and Megan) pursue the same goals, they understand that balance. They understand that to compete means to 'seek together.' They want to kick each other's butts and they don't take it personally. Rather than getting upset when one of them has a better day, it pushes them to want more from themselves and each other.
 
"If one of them hits the goal to be the top in the nation, the other one knows that she can be there, too."

-- Leah Rado, St. Benedict Sports Information Director

Atlantic East has name, formal announcement

Gwynedd Mercy athletics photo
 

Seven current Division III institutions received approval from the NCAA to form the new Atlantic East Conference and to begin competition beginning Sept. 1, 2018. The seven founding institutions of the Atlantic East include Cabrini, Gwynedd Mercy, Immaculata, Marymount, Marywood, Neumann and Wesley.

The conference's formation was first announced by D3sports.com in June of 2017. Five of the schools come from the current membership of the Colonial States Athletic Conference.

The Atlantic East is being formed to foster athletic competition and cooperation among academically selective, private colleges located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The geographic focus will bring together some of the top colleges in the region, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the student-athlete’s university experience. 

2017 story: New conference shuffle coming

The Atlantic East was a culmination of efforts by the presidents and athletic directors of the seven institutions and was an extremely collaborative effort. Matt Shank, president of Marymount and chair of the Atlantic East President’s Council said, “we are all excited to bring institutions together that share similar missions, values and beliefs along with the common understanding that athletics play an important role at our institutions.”

The combination of the AEC geographic footprint and the institutional focus of the schools offers each institution the opportunity to enhance the student-athlete experience. Charles Sack, athletic director at Neumann and chair of the Atlantic East Athletic Directors’ Council, stated, “The collegiality and vision of this group of institutions is very compelling. The geographic footprint combined with each institution’s effort to complement its academic mission with a vibrant and dynamic student-athlete experience is amazing and will be a point of difference as we move forward together.”

Arcadia, which was heavily involved in the conversations regarding the conference's formation, is still expected to join the AEC at a future date.

The Atlantic East will initially sponsor and host championships for 19 sports within the NCAA Division III. The search for a commissioner will begin on March 5, 2018.  

More news from D3sports.com

  • Mount Union men win indoor title on last event
    March 11, 2018
    The Purple Raiders won the 4x400 relay at the 2018 Division III indoor men's track national championship, and that win edged them past North Central (Ill.) for the overall title.
  • Pentathlon duo pushes, helps each other
    March 11, 2018
    The word 'compete' comes from Latin origins, meaning to meet or come together, or to seek together. This past weekend, St. Benedict track athletes Megan Sundstrom and Jenna Degen proved that they truly know how to compete – how to seek together.
  • Atlantic East has name, formal announcement
    March 01, 2018
    Back in June 2017, D3sports.com announced a new conference would be forming, and cited the members' names. Finally, the conference has made its announcement.
  • Seeking a level playing field
    January 26, 2018
    While Title IX increased opportunities for women to play college sports, there are actually fewer women's head coaches in college now than before the law passed. Why is that and what can be done to level the playing field for women in the coaching profession? Ryan Scott explores in Around the Nation on D3hoops.com.
  • Who is Claire Marburger?
    January 19, 2018
    If you follow the IIAC, you might know her as Luther's All-American who transferred from Central. There is a lot more to her story that you probably don't know, including her battle with clinical depression. Claire has decided to tell that story to help others going through the same struggle. More on D3hoops.com.
  • Benedictine looking to D2
    January 16, 2018
    Having gained approval from its board of trustees, and found a sponsoring conference in Division II, Benedictine has made its application and will await word from the Division II membership committee.
  • Transfers on the move to find their groove
    January 12, 2018
    Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions in a person's life. What happens when that first choice ends up not being the best fit for academic, athletic or other reasons? Ryan Scott shares the stories of some Division III basketball transfer athletes who have found a home in new places.
  • The secret to coaching success
    December 11, 2017
    What does it take to be a successful coach? Good players, of course. And preparation. And all the things you hear about in postgame news conferences. But what about trust, flexibility and consistency? Why are coaching's "soft skills" so hard? D3hoops.com's Ryan Scott talked to some of the best in the business to find out.
  • Middlebury back on top in field hockey
    November 24, 2017
    For the second time in three seasons, and the third time overall, Middlebury won the Division III field hockey title, defeating Messiah in record fashion.
  • CMS wins first volleyball title, in sweep
    November 21, 2017
    The Claremont-Mudd-Scripps women's volleyball team brought the program's first national title in any women's sport back to campus, sweeping past Wittenberg in three sets.
  • Cru's success is infectious
    November 02, 2017
    Mary Hardin-Baylor's 2016 national title may well have lit a fire under the rest of the Crusaders' fall sports, with the volleyball and both soccer teams having great seasons. Meanwhile, the 2017 football Cru are looking to keep the run going. More on D3football.com.
  • Wash U goalie named NCAA Woman of the Year
    October 23, 2017
    Lizzy Crist, a Washington University in St. Louis graduate, became the fifth Division III student-athlete to win the highest individual honor the NCAA awards a student-athlete.
  • D-III's No. 1 takes down D-II's No. 1
    October 11, 2017
    Messiah, the defending national champion in field hockey, took it to Division II top-ranked Shippensburg, thrashing the defending Division II champ, 4-0.
  • From refugee to survivor, Achol Odolla is running free
    September 28, 2017
    Achol Odolla nearly died in the genocide in Ethiopia in 2003 and her family was soon on the run for their lives. Coming to the U.S. as a refugee gave her a new lease on life, but meanwhile, she's still running, on the Stevenson women's cross country team. A #whyd3 story.
  • Record crowd sees Division III football game
    September 23, 2017
    St. Thomas defeated archrival for the fourth consecutive time and the seventh time in the past nine meetings, as the Tommies defeated St. John's 20-17 in front of more than 37,000 fans. Full coverage on D3football.com.
  • Division III alumni receive invites to NHL training camps
    September 13, 2017
    At least four former Division III players, including two players from Division III's Class of 2017, will have the opportunity to leave their mark at the highest level of professional hockey as invitees to 2017 NHL training camps.
  • CSAC restocks with two new schools
    September 08, 2017
    Over the summer, five schools announced they would be leaving the Colonial States Athletic Conference after the 2017-18 school year, leaving the conference with no schools that had ever won its all-sports title. But the CSAC is starting to patch the holes.
  • Division III gives the full college experience
    August 16, 2017
    Manchester sophomore women's cross-country runner Emily Lynn has made the most of her first year as a Division III student-athlete.
  • ODAC expands to add Ferrum
    June 27, 2017
    The Old Dominion Athletic Conference is adding another all-sports member, but perhaps most importantly, Ferrum brings with it an eighth football program.
  • A new conference shuffle coming
    June 06, 2017
    A decade ago, a Mid-Atlantic Shuffle created a new conference and remade six others. Now, the process looks ready to start again, with eight schools from three leagues in the process of signing on for another new group.
  • Thomas More to withdraw from PAC
    June 01, 2017
    After 12 years, Thomas More will be leaving the Presidents' Athletic Conference following the upcoming school year. And the school did not announce a new home.
  • Gettysburg women capture second lacrosse title
    May 29, 2017
    The Bullets scored the go-ahead goal with just under three minutes left and iced the game away, defeating TCNJ 6-5 to take home Walnut and Bronze in women's lacrosse.
  • Salisbury adds to trophy case
    May 29, 2017
    The Sea Gulls made it an even dozen men's lacrosse national titles, and they made it look easy with a 15-7 win vs. RIT.
  • Salisbury, RIT to meet for men's lacrosse title
    May 23, 2017
    No. 1 and No. 2 will meet for the title in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., sporting a combined record of 41-3.
  • Baseball postseason opens
    May 18, 2017
    Over the course of five days, the Field of 56 in baseball get whittled down to the eight teams who will advance to the Division III World Series in Appleton, Wis. Follow all of the action on D3baseball.com.
  • Salisbury moves on; Lynchburg posts upset
    May 14, 2017
    The top-ranked Sea Gulls had no trouble with Hampden-Sydney, while Lynchburg posted a road win at York (Pa.) as the third round of the D-III men's lacrosse tournament wasn't much more competitive than the second.
  • Castleton to join Little East in 2018
    May 04, 2017
    The Little East, a collection of state schools in New England, is expanding to Vermont for the first time with the addition of Castleton for the 2018-19 academic year.
  • Illinois Tech finds home in NACC
    May 03, 2017
    The Illinois Tech athletic department should be full members of Division III in two years, and its baseball team will play in the WIAC next spring, but the following year, IIT will become full NACC members.
  • Westfield State pitching: A family affair
    May 03, 2017
    For the past 44 years, Westfield State University has been a family affair for the Sullivans, culminating with senior pitcher Julie Sullivan.
  • Springfield back on top in men's volleyball
    April 30, 2017
    The Pride avenged last year's loss to SUNY New Paltz, defeating the Hawks in four sets to win the NCAA Division III national title in men's volleyball for the fourth time in the six seasons it has been awarded.
Load More

[archive]