Roundup: NCC’s Spain wins national title in 10,000 meters
May 27, 2011 5:14PM
Updated: May 27, 2011 9:58PM
The North Central College men’s track and field team put its best foot forward in its quest to win its second straight NCAA Division III Outdoor National Championship on Thursday, claiming an individual national title on the first day of competition at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Selby Stadium.
The Cardinals’ Michael Spain was victorious in the 10,000-meter run, adding an outdoor title to the indoor 5,000-meter crown he claimed in March. Spain led a 14-point effort for North Central in the event, as teammate Dan Kerley crossed the line fifth to also earn All-America honors.
North Central’s contingent in the 10,000, which also included Neal Klein, was content to stay in the middle of the pack early. Just past the midway point of the race, Spain surged ahead and took the lead, eventually stringing out the lead pack.
Thomas Breitbach of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire gamely held on and was the only competitor to stay with Spain over the next nine laps as the Cardinal senior attempted to break free.
Breitbach charged ahead and took the lead with two laps to go and made his bid for the win, but Spain fought back on the bell lap and finally worked himself free down the home stretch for the win in 29 minutes, 58.92 seconds.
“I had the toughest dual of my life on my hands,” Spain said. “I didn’t know at any point that I would win. I kept trying to break (Breitbach) and he wouldn’t give up. I took a gamble the last two laps taking the lead and relying on my kick. I didn’t know I had it won until 50 meters to go.”
Kerley worked his way through the pack and finished fifth in 30:34.45 to collect four points for the Cardinals and earn his first All-America certificate, while Klein placed 13th in 31:15.61.
Cardinals set school records — The North Central College women’s track and field team enjoyed an ideal start to the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships on Thursday, establishing a pair of school records in the first day of competition at Selby Stadium.
The Cardinals’ first record came in the preliminary heats of the 1600-meter relay. Seeded eighth in the event, the quartet of Lauren Brightmore, Linnea Higgins, Sheila Walsh and Krista Cota was clocked in 3:46.54 to qualify as the fourth-fastest team heading into Saturday’ final.
The time broke the previous North Central record of 3:49.90 by more than three seconds. The former record had stood since 2006.
Amanda Laesch followed by crushing her own school record in recording a third-place finish in the 10,000-meter run. Seeded eighth, Laesch bided her time in the middle of the pack early in the race before moving into sixth place and battling Carleton College’s Simone Childs-Walker for position for several laps.
Late in the race, as the lead pack began to break up, Laesch continued to improve her position and sealed the third-place finish with a strong last lap. She crossed the finish line in 35:28.44, smashing her previous record of 35:41.35, set earlier this season.
“I knew the girls up front weren’t getting any farther away, so I figured some of them would come back,” Laesch said. “I liked having people to run with and being able to pass people throughout the race. I had confidence in my kick, and I was able to use it.”