Tigers Claim NAIA Runner-up at Nationals
The Doane men's track and field team had a historic weekend, finishing second at the NAIA National Championship meet in Marion, Indiana. The runner-up placement is the highest outdoor finish and ties for the best finish regardless of season.
Doane posted 59 points in the meet, falling shy of Shorter College's 66 points to win the meet. The Tigers had three event champions and 10 All-American honors recorded.
Picking up the first national title was Virgil Mitchell in the 110m hurdles. Mitchell ran a school record time of 13.84. He also broke the school record in the 400m hurdles during the semifinal race as he blistered the track with a time of 51.06. However, on the final day, he was unable to ride the momentum and placed ninth.
"I knew after the second hurdle it was my race to win," Mitchell said about winning the 110m hurdles. "I just needed to hang on at the end."
Mitchell said he was spurred on by his teammates. Their encouragement was the reason he wanted to do well.
"I wanted to win for my teammates. I didn't care if I won for myself but I see how much this team encourages and I didn't want to let them down."
The Tigers nearly had a fourth event champion as BJ Lawrence was edged out in the 100m dash. In a photo finish, Lawrence was defeated by 0.002 seconds in a debate that will continue to grow. Two cameras had a look at the finish and each camera had a different winner with the primary camera awarding the title to another runner.
Lawrence appeared motivated on Saturday afternoon as he posted a school record time of 20.58 in the 200m dash to win the title. He won the race by nearly a half a second.
"Overall, I'm pleased," Lawrence said. "Yesterday didn't go the way I wanted in the 100m but I'm satisfied with the 200 and the 4x100 titles, it was a great season for me."
The physical demands wore on Lawrence but he said he was just glad to make it through after running in eight races in three days.
Anchoring the 4x100m relay team, Lawrence helped the Tigers set the school record in the race on Friday afternoon with a time of 39.95. He was joined by Ben McCaleb, Thomas Hodges and Chris Busby.
On Saturday, the group was out to prove that the race was not a fluke as some may have speculated according to the runners. They came out and not only broke the record again with a time of 39.92, the won the national title.
"No one really thought we could post that time again after yesterday so we had something to prove today," commented BJ Lawrence.
Trust also played a factor in the race for the Tigers.
"We trusted our coaches and we trusted each other," said Chris Busby. "That is what pushed us through the race and put us on top."
Ben McCaleb said this four-some is looking forward to repeating next year as they will all return.
Friday afternoon saw the Tigers post 39 points on the day. Fifteen of those points came in the discus were Doane took three of the top five spots. Zack Lindsley took third in the meet after placing sixth a year ago. He had a throw of 51.36m. Darin Smith placed fourth with a throw of 50.18m. Smith set a person best with two of his throws. Vince Krejci placed fifth with a toss of 49.20m. Alvin Voss was held off the board with three fouls.
Rob Keeney added to the point total on Friday as well with a third place finish in the decathlon. He had to battle his way through less than ideal conditions and posted 6,751 points.
Doane had some near misses from the Top Eight as well. McCaleb took ninth in the 200m dash by 0.1 seconds. Nate Teten placed ninth in the pole vault with a mark of 4.75m. Edwin Ronoh took 10th in the 800m run with a time of 1:52.17.
Byron Evans placed 11th in the triple jump as he leaped to a mark of 14.75m. Brian Hubbert finished in 19th place with a mark of 14.33m.
In the shot put, Chase Trecek took 14th place with a throw of 15.74m. Lindsley was 16th overall with a toss of 15.65m. Kyle Bartlett took 26th with a mark of 13.56m and Jacob Clouse fouled on this three attempts.
In the 100m dash, Hodges placed 12th with a time of 10.91 in the semifinals. McCaleb took 14th with a time of 10.96 in the semis.
Micah Marvin placed 15th in the javelin with a throw of 53.36m. Ben Wolfe took 20th with a toss of 50.32m.
Andrew Christen, participating in his first national meet, was unable to hit the opening height in the high jump.
"I'm extremely proud of all the athletes, men and women," Coach Ed Fye commented. "We put together some outstanding performances and even though some performances did not go the way we hoped, it was overall an excellent effort. On the men's side, we battled but it was just short. It's tough when you know there were some points out there but at the same time we received points from athletes not expected to place, let alone finish as All-Americans. The efforts of so many will not go unnoticed when this team is looked at because it was a complete team effort."