Blast From The Past: Vikes grab third place

Author: Kevin Rettelle

Published: May 26. 1976

The Lawrence University men’s track team competed in its final meet of the year this past weekend with a third place finish at the Midwest Conference meet. This year the two-day event was held at the University of Chicago’s Alonzo Stagg Field.

The Vikes did well on the first day, as finals were held in four events. Ron Wopat continued his domination of the discus with a winning throw of 164’10’’. Wopat’s javelin throw of 183’7 ¾’’ earned him second place in that event, only ¼’’ behind the winner. In the long jump Rob Stevens came through with a jump of 22’6’’ to win despite the fact that he was injured for much of the season. Jim Miller ended Carleton’s domination of the six mile run by breaking the conference record, winning in 30:51.2. Bob Eddy added another point with a sixth in the discus, giving Lawrence 39 points and the lead going into the second day of competition.

Unfortunately, the second day did not yield the same kind of performances as the first, but the Vikings finished in good form. Wopat ran into trouble in the shot put but still finished second with a throw of 51’3”. Eddy also had problems, but his involved the high jump. Eddy also took a second place at 6’2” with one miss more than the winner. He had a fine day in the shot however, placing third with a throw of 46’10”. Miller ran a fine race again in the three mile in 14:40.2, this time placing second to Carleton’s All-American Dale Kramer. Jo Socha hopped 42’10’’ for fifth place in the triple jump. Kevin Retelle finished fifth in the mile in 4:24.6 and finally, Jeff Hawley took sixth in the three mile in 15:53.3. Lawrence ended up with 74 points, well behind second place Carleton, who had 116, but safely ahead of Monmouth, who finished fourth with 59.

For two Lawrentians, competition will continue through this weekend with Wopat and
Miller competing in the Division III National Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich. To enter this meet they had to meet qualifying standards set by the NCAA. Wopat has qualified in the shot put and discus and Miller in the six mile, run as 10,000 meters.


My Response

This past weekend, two records were broken by the track team. Senior Jackson Straughan broke the hammer throw record, set in 2012 by Nick Kerkman. Sophomore Josh Janusiak broke a 39-year-old record in the 10,000 meter run, set by Jim Miller at the 1978 NCAA Division III national championships. The breaking of records is a testament to the continuing growth and development of Lawrence University athletics, and also a reminder of the generations of athletes who are immortalized in the history of Lawrence Athletics.

Each athlete on all of Lawrence’s sports teams strive to fill large shoes. Generations of athletes have come before, leaving their marks, their places and their times on Lawrence Athletics. While not all are immortalized on the record board, all have had an impact on the Lawrence Vikings. Echoes of former teammates ring through each and every sports team, carrying a sense of tradition and continuity that defines athletics. In the same way, current athletes shape the future of Lawrence Athletics. Their actions define not only themselves, but also the future of the teams for which they compete. In this way, the athletic tradition of Lawrence is carried forward.

Just as Miller and Kerkman’s records have fallen, so too, someday, will Janusiak and Straughan’s. But the impact these athletes have had on Lawrence Athletics will be passed down, from one athlete to the next, into the future.

All athletes strive to be the best they can be, but rare is the athlete who can best all who have gone before. As old records fall and new names grace the lists in Alexander Gymnasium, we celebrate our champions, new and old. With each performance, victory or defeat, we look forward to the next game, meet or record to be toppled. Miller was not alone at the 1978 National Championships—Ron Wopat also competed in both shot put and discus. Wopat still holds the Lawrence record in the discus. It is this record, and others, at which the Lawrence Vikings now take aim.