by Josh Sandin
Posted on 3/5/2012
CHARLESTON, Ill. - The Iowa Central men’s and women’s track and field programs cemented their spot as a track and field powerhouse this weekend as both squads won titles at the NJCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships in Charleston, Ill.
“We had so many great performances this weekend that I know once I start talking I’m going to leave someone out or forget something,” said head coach Denny Myers. “It was a total team effort this weekend. We had so many people finish higher than they qualified. This is really special.”
Iowa Central claimed nine individual national champions and one relay title at the meet. Three individuals received Athlete of the Meet awards. Stanley Kebenei was named the Male Track Athlete of the Meet and James White was named the Male Field Athlete of the Meet. Ebeissa Nyandwi was named the Female Track Athlete of the Meet.
The men’s program overcame a bad opening day to rally for a repeat championship. The men scored 107 points to hold off Barton (82 points) and Rend Lake (62 points). The Tritons also had eight All-Americans.
“Quite frankly, we wanted to pack it in and go home on Friday with the guys,” said Myers. “Anything that could go wrong went wrong. We met that night and told the guys we needed to step it up and some sophomores spoke too. Saturday we came out and we did everything right.”
Iowa Central was boosted on the men’s side by national titles from White in the high jump and Kebenei in the 5,000 and 1,000-meters. White set a NJCAA Indoor Championship, track and school record with a 7-05.00 jump to earn All-American honors. Kebenei was a four-time All-American and he won titles in the 5,000-meters (14:48.71) and 1,000-meters (2:30.45) in addition to runner-up finishes in the mile (4:15.63) and 3,000-meters (8:35.14).
“Stanley was a huge catalyst for our showing on Saturday,” said Myers. “After finishing second in the 3,000-meters he turned right around and immediately ran the 1,000-meters. He was exhausted and we hoped to get a few points out of it, but he sucked it up and delivered. There is no way he should have won that race.”
Myers also listed the 4x800-meter relay team as another reason for Saturday’s turn around. After a less-than-stellar showing in the open 800-meters as a program, the 4x800 team of Namer Ray, Kevin White, Tor Gach and Kuaniyal Chol finished second (7:49.92) to start the Triton rally and earn All-American honors.
“That was huge for us. We didn’t do very well in the open 800 on Friday and I didn’t expect much out of us in the 4x800 on Saturday. They turned it on and started the momentum on Saturday,” said Myers.
Iowa Central had several more surprises on Saturday. The first came in the 600-meters where Zach Gearman finished fifth in 1:21.79, jumping three spots from where he qualified. In the 60-meter hurdles, Chris Williams qualified fifth, yet finished second (8.14) to become an All-American and in the high jump White led a trio of Tritons that scored points as Aviance King and Troy Bullard tied for fourth (6-08.75) in the event.
Leonard Overstreet also earned All-American honors in the heptathlon as he finished second with 4,700 points. He finished first in the long jump (22-01.5) during the event.
On the women’s side, the Tritons dominated the weekend to earn the program’s first indoor title. Iowa Central scored 187 points to easily beat Central Arizona (91 points) and Barton (60). The Tritons had 12 All-Americans, five national champions and set five school records.
“I would like to say that the women just went in and did their job, but wow! They did their jobs really well,” said Myers. “I thought we would win the indoor title on the women’s side, but they still exceeded my expectations.”
Ebeissa Nyandwi was named Female Track Athlete of the Meet. She won the 5,000-meters (10:18.46) and the 3,000-meters (18:07.52). She was also fourth in the mile (5:16.22).
“Ebeissa was great for us; obviously she gave us a huge boost,” said Myers. “That whole group of distance girls was great this weekend.”
Starting with the 600-meters, Iowa Central dominated in the mid- and long distance events. Te’shon Adderley and Chantal Duncan each broke the school record in the 600-meters. Adderley set the record in the prelims (1:33.41) then broke it in the finals (1:33.08). However, she finished second to Duncan who was even quicker in 1:32.33 in the finals. Duncan then won the 800-meters (2:18.80) and Adderley got her school own record and title in the 1,000-meters (2:57.38).
Fiona McKenna finished second in the mile (5:11.47) and Nyandwi won the 3,000 and 5,000-meters.
The Tritons also dominated in the relay event as Duncan, Reyare Thomas, Dominque Kimpel and Adderley won the 4x400-meter relay (3:51.56) and McKenna, Cetrena Simmons, Cecilia Kumalalamene and Laura Condon finished second in the Distance Medley (12:38.94).
It wasn’t just the distance events that had success however. Reyare Thomas won the 60-meters in 7.37, tying a school record set by Kimpel in the prelims. Kimpel finished third in 7.43 in the finals. Thomas and Kimpel also scored in the 200-meters as Kimpel was third (24.66) and Thomas was fifth (24.89).
“The women ran great both days,” said Myers. “I thought Friday was great, but Saturday was even better.”
The Iowa Central cross country and track and field programs have won five team national titles so far this season. The women won the title in cross country and the men and women both won the half marathon in addition to the indoor titles. Iowa Central now sets its sights on its sixth and seventh titles this year as the outdoor season begins Saturday, March 24, in Des Moines at the Viking Relays hosted by Grand View University.
“We have had an amazing season so far,” said Myers. “Obviously we have a chance to compete for titles at the outdoor championships, but we still have a lot of work to do between now and then. Everyone will be coming for us.”