Jan. 7, 2011-- The Al Carius Program of the Year Award returned home on Friday evening as United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Chief Executive Officer Sam Seemes presented North Central College with the award for the 2009-2010 academic year during the 27th Annual Alumni Track & Field Meet at the Al B. Carius Track.
The Al Carius Program of the Year Award, created in 2008, is awarded annually to the most outstanding NCAA Division III men’s cross country/track & field program. The award honors the institution that has achieved the most success in each academic year (spanning the cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field seasons) based on the institution’s finish at the NCAA Division III Championships.
"Two years ago our association created an award to recognize colleges and universities that had a complete program. In creating the award we wanted to recognize those who were a symbol for the award's ideals and the great colleges and coaches over the years," said Seemes.
"We looked to identify coaches who pulled off the trifecta and the men's award for Division III is named after Al Carius, the first coach to lead a college to a national championship in all three sports. Miraculously he has done it more than once and its fitting that tonight were able to present the second award to North Central College and Al Carius."
North Central earned a rare triple crown in 2009-2010, capturing the NCAA Division III National Title at the cross country, indoor track & field and outdoor track & field national championships. The Cardinals became just the second team to earn a triple crown since Division III was formed in 1973, securing a perfect score (three points) in the Program of the Year standings. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was second in the final standings with 16 points.
Establishing a championship record for margin of victory, the Cardinals opened up the year with a dominating win at cross country nationals, scoring 50 points to edge runner-up Williams College (Mass.) by 131-points on Nov. 21 in Cleveland, Ohio as all seven varsity runners earned All-America accolades. Shifting gears to indoor track & field, the Cardinals didn't miss a beat, claiming two individual national champions and nine All-Americans to capture the team title in Greencastle, Ind. on Mar. 12 before securing the sweep on May 29 in Berea, Ohio with nine earning All-America certificates.
The award is named in honor of longtime North Central College coach Al Carius, who in his 45th year has guided the Cardinals to unparalleled success, winning 20 National Championships (13 cross country, 5 outdoor track, 2 indoor track). Under Carius' watch, North Central has won 37 straight College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin cross country titles along with 23 straight CCIW Outdoor Track titles from 1985-2007 and 10 straight indoor crowns. Along with the team success, Carius has developed over 350 All-Americans and over 40 individual national champions in both cross country and track & field.
Carius has been named the NCAA Division III Cross Country Coach of the Year six times (1993, 95, 97, 98, 99, 09) and in 2006 was inducted into the USTFCCCA Hall of Fame.
"It represents the philosophy and the people that made it become a reality. Your only as good as the people your surrounded by. Through the many many years I told people our philosophy is that god comes first, family comes second, academics comes third, and then we hope athletics comes somewhere after that," said Carius.
"The award is for all the athletes since when I came here in 1966, the founding fathers, to now that helped build this program. When I look at that trophy, that's what it means to me. It's not my trophy, it's not my name, it's theirs."
The Cardinals officially open up the 2011 indoor season on Saturday, Jan. 15 at the Carthage College Private College Invitational in Kenosha, Wis.