Monday, May 11, 2015

MIAC Championships News and Notes

Cherae Reeves wins the MIAC women's
Shot put. Photo by Jim Ferstle
The lights were on Friday night as Day 1 of the MIAC Championships came to a close.  All along the final curve team members of many of the teams gathered for what is now a day ending ritual.

The last event of the meet, on both days, is the "Mile Relay" or 4 by 400.  As each of the four runners sprints through the turn, the decibel level on noise vibrates across the track.  Chants or merely loud cheering fills the air as the relay runners, no matter how fatigued, are launched down the final straight by a cacophony of sound.

As far as those who've been around long enough to remember the tradition started with rivals St. Thomas and St. John's, who would have their team members cheer on their 4 by 400 teams at the end of the meet.  The practice caught on with the other schools so now more than merely the rivals for team titles line the curve to inspire their teammates to new heights.
Carleton's Hart Horner didn't need a cheering section to get him going in the meets two longest races.  Horner started Friday's 10,000 meters like he was running a much shorter distance.  He was expecting the main competition to come from St. Olaf's 2014 NCAA DIII cross country  champion Grant Wintheiser, so he decided to try and get away early and build up a lead even Wintheiser couldn't cope with.

Unbeknownst to Horner, Wintheiser was dealing with stress reactions(that are a prelude to a stress fracture) and was hoping his legs would be able to handle the relatively slow pace of the longest track race on the program.  It didn't work out that way.

Horner opened up a lead that was at least a straightaway early in the race with Wintheiser and teammate Phillip Meyer taking turns setting the pace in an attempt to close the gap.  By halfway, Horner's lead had been cut some, but only by about a third.  Unfortunately for Wintheiser, his legs could not take the stress and he was forced to drop out.  Horner was starting to feel the effort, and Meyer was all alone in pursuit.  Gradually, he made up the gap on Horner and broke away from his rival to win by six seconds.

In Saturday's 5K Horner decided on a different strategy.  He hung with the lead pack until a little over five laps to go, then burst from the others opening a gap on all but another St. Olaf senior, Jake Brown, who shadowed Horner until the beginning of the backstretch of the last lap before launching into a final lap sprint that put five seconds between him and Horner by the finish.   Next year Horner, a junior who was third at 10K in 2014, will presumably get another chance to figure out a way to win

NCAA DIII indoor mile champion Paul Escher wore two long black stripes of kinesio tape on the back of one leg.  "They don't cause any harm," he said, "So why not."  He'd "tweaked" a hamstring recently, he said, and the tape was just a precaution.  Escher wasn't the only athlete using the tape as others could be seen climbing the top eight podium award stand with kinesio tape somewhere on their bodies.

The tape certainly did no harm, as Escher won the 1500 in 3:51.80, beating his two St. Olaf teammates, Jake Campbell(second 3:55.10) and Joe Coffey(third 3:55.34).


Just as St. Olaf's men scored a lot of points in the distance events.  Concordia Moorhead's women lived up to their T-Shirts by scoring a boatload of points in the throws.  Wins from NCAA DIII indoor shot put champion Cherae Reeves in her event and teammate Hillary Birchem in the discus was well supported by their teammates and justified the slogan on the back of their warm up T-shirts that proclaimed the school as Throws University, as well as a bit more tongue in cheek declaration on the front.
Hillary Birchem psyched up to her turn in the
throwers circle for the shot put. Photo by Jim

Concordia Moorhead's women shot putters took four of the top seven places in the shot, five of the top eight in the discus, and three of the top four in the javelin.

Reeves and Birchem are both qualfied for DIII outdoor nationals and throws coach Dave Reuter hopes they can duplicate their success in the MIACs at NCAAs.

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