By Joe Krivit
The NCAA Division III men’s and women’s outdoor track and field national championships where hosted by Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, on May 22- 24. Wartburg College took home the women’s national title, while the University of Mount Union claimed the men’s title.
For Wartburg, it was their third consecutive national title and fourth in six years. They finished the weekend with 65 team points, which was enough to edge UW-Oshkosh, who finished with 63 points. It was the fifth overall national championship for the school’s program. Wartburg, which resides in Waverly, Iowa, promoted Marcus Newsom to be the head coach of the track and field team in 1998.
Since then, the women’s team has finished in the top 15 at nationals in all but three years under Newsom’s coaching. The most noteworthy individual performance for Wartburg came from Libbey Shubert. Shubert’s took first-place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 23.91 and became Wartburg’s first individual national champion of the tournament.
For the men, Mount Union earned their first national title in program history. It was also only their second national title in school history for a sport other than football, for which they have 11. Their victory was only decided by the final event: the 4 x 400m relay. The Mount Union Purple Raiders needed to beat UW-LaCrosse in order to secure the national title.
The quartet of Chase Swisher, Tyler Mettille, Tyler Sparks and Chad Gentry won the race with a time of 3:09.81, and set a school and stadium record in doing so. “I’m kind of speechless. This just means so much to our program,” said head coach Kevin Lucas. “We’ve never won a championship in track and field, so it is incredible.”
The NCAA Championships also featured big story from a local angle. Appleton native Christy Cazzola finished an incredibly distinguished career at UW-Oshkosh. Cazzola won three individual national championships this year, which brought her total national championships in her career to 17.
Not only has she reached unprecedented success on the track, but she’s done so after having two children, Noah, born in 2006, and Kaya, born in 2009. She graduated from Oshkosh this spring at the age of 29.
Cazzola’s illustrious career has been noticed by various national news outlets including Running Times Magazine, and ESPN.com. On top of all this, Cazzola was honored by throwing out the first pitch at the Fox Cities Stadium before the Division III Baseball College World Series game between the University of St. Thomas (MN) and UW-Whitewater.