COLUMBUS, Ohio (Mar. 12, 2011)-- The North Central College men's track & field team's second straight national title came by the thinnest of margins, rallying from a 20-point deficit to earn the 2011 NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship on Saturday at the Capital Center.
The Cardinals amassed 45 points in the team standings to edge Central College (Iowa) by one point as three points separated first from fourth place. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse was third with 43 points while the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh was fourth with 42 points. North Central has now won eight national titles in track & field (three indoor, five outdoor).
"It was a great team effort. We weren't leading from day one like last year. We were behind and had to keep picking away at it," said head coach Frank Gramarosso.
Michael Spain secured the victory for the Cardinals, winning the team's lone individual title after crushing the field in the 5,000-meter run to obtain a vital 10 points. The senior was sitting in third before making a move with a mile to go, eventually winning the race by a comfortable four-second margin in a facility record time of 14:17.42. Neal Klein ran to a 10th place finish in 14:46.35 while Daniel Kerley was 11th in 14:46.95.
"Coming in here, it was a lot easier with the whole team was behind us," said Spain."I tried to run a conservative race and then push the second half when I felt I could move to the finish. You can't let times and numbers get in our heads. We try and focus on how we feel and intuition and feel the race, every race is different.
"The accolades, its nice but its really what I learned along the way that's the great part and the fact that I can be here with my teammates."
Four thousandths of a second separated Daniel Benton from claiming the national title in the 400-meter dash after winning the first of two heats to earn All-America accolades. Benton surged ahead of the field right after the cut-in and held off a late charge from Neumann University's Brandon Bennett-Green to win heat one in 48.27. Buffalo State College's Justin Allen claimed heat two, also clocking a 48.27 but edging Benton by four-thousandths of a second for the national title. It is Benton's second runner-up finish at the indoor championship, placing second in 2010.
Teammate Jon Howard finished third in his heat and fifth overall in the 400, clocking a 48.93 and earning All-America honors in the process.
The 4x400-meter relay team of Howard, Bai Kabba, Jon Caron and Benton looked to have secured their second straight national title in the event to close out the meet before getting disqualified after a protest was filed for cutting off another competitor.
Competing in his first track meet since the NCC Quadrangular on Jan. 28, Matt Borchardt opened up the day for the Cardinals on Saturday with a 12th-place finish in the pentathlon, scoring 3,079 points.
Robert Kapustka, competing in his second event in as many days, finished ninth in the shot put with a throw of 51 feet, 1/4 inch. Kapustka advanced to finals with a toss of 50' 8" before recording his best mark on his second attempt in the championship flight.
The Cardinals tallied five All-Americans after day one of competition. Peter Geraghty was second in the pole vault while Thomas Stacey and Josh Winderwere fourth and seventh respectively. Kaputska was third in the weight throw while Zachariah Heerspink finished sixth in the high jump.
"We've been doing the same thing for years, It's all about the process. They went out there and did the best they can do. It's a great coaching staff with a lot of head coaches in each event area. Were just trying to do what we've been doing in the 28 years I've been in the program," said Gramarosso.
North Central opens up the outdoor season on April 1 & 2, hosting the First Chance Invitational inside Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium.