The Captains traveled three student-athletes to Los Angeles to compete in four events at the NCAA Div. III National Championships. The weather was significantly cooler than expected for a Southern California weekend in late May, but the competition was hot.
The NCAA made a rare selection of a West Coast site for the 2012 Track & Field Championships. In spite of cooler than expected weather, hosts Claremont-McKenna College put on a great meet and the nation's premier student-athletes put on a great show. The night before competition got underway, the participants heard keynote speeches from Olympians Dwight Stones and Rafer Johnson and then applauded the years' Regional award recipients. CNU's Richard Roethel (Farmingville, NY) was again honored as the South/Southeast Region's top Field Athlete of the Year thanks to his high rankings in the High Jump, Decathlon, and Javelin - the first two on his competitive agenda at the Championships. Coach Barreau was named the Men's Assistant Coach of the Year for the region on the strength of the 61 points his distance corps scored at the Mason-Dixon Conference Championships (53 by freshmen and sophomores) and 31 PRs on the season. Three of his charges also qualified for the USATF Junior National Championships.
Coach Matthew Barreau & Richard Roethel
South/Southeast Region Asst. Coach & Field Athlete of the Year
Roethel opened competition for the Captains on day one of the meet. The first event in the Decathlon was the 100m where he and top seed Ethan Miller were lined up next to each other. Miller, also the defending champion, opened a big early lead on Roethel, but over the final 20m, the junior closed the gap and went by for the event win and a massive PR 10.85. That gave Roethel a 9 point lead and the #10 spot on the CNU All-Time List. Roethel relinquished his lead in the Long Jump in spite of a solid 6.75m/22-1.75 effort. Significant lead changes are not typical in the throws, but Roethel's 12.56m/41-2.5 was 6' better than Millers and moved him back ahead in the competition by 36 points.
In the High Jump, the field retired at 1.96m/6-5 while Roethel was just getting started. Though it took two attempts to clear that opening height, he passed to 2.02m and made it on his first try. Second-attempt clearances at 2.05m and 2.08m/6-9.75 added another 111 points to his lead. Asking what was needed for a round 4,000 point total on the first day, Roethel took aim at 49.61 - even though it was 1.2 seconds faster than his PR. His resolve showed in an event he usually does not prefer as he came through the 200m mark on target for his goal. At 300m, it was time to fight and he dragged himself to a 49.88 finish - best in the field and a PR by a full second for a 3987 Day 1 total and a 202 point cushion leading in to Day 2.
Roethel gave back some points in the 110m Hurdles in spite of posting a Decathlon PR 15.23. He extended his lead again in the Discus, however, with a 3' PR (37.18m/122-0). Miller averted disaster after two long fouls to get a legal, but sub-par 32.88m/107-10 dropped him another 86 points behind. With three good events to finish the day, Roethel had a shot at the Div. III Record (Kip Janvrin's 7528 from 1987) and an Olympic Trials qualifier (7600). Both targets required a great day in the Pole Vault. Entering the competition at 3.90m/12-9.5, the junior came up short on his first jump, though he nearly muscled himself over the bar as his pole stalled in a nearly vertical position. The second attempt came up short again as did the third and Roethel was left with no points in the Decathlon's 7th event. Shocked hardly described the atmosphere among the competing athletes and their fans on the hill across the track.
Unfortunately, it was also time for Roethel to start his open High Jump competition. While he was able to shake off enough of the disappointment to manage a second-jump clearance of his opening height (2.03m/6-8), he was simply too emotionally drained to negotiate the next and settled for a 12th place finish (a first-jump clearance at 2.03m would have tied him for 8th). After watching the end of the Decathlon Pole Vault, Roethel regained focus and launched the fourth best Javelin throw of the competition (52.86m/173-5) which put him back in 4th place over-all. He made another aggressive effort in a less-than-favorite event in an attempt to move further up the awards stand, but the day's roller-coaster ride only left him enough steam for a 4:56.48 in the 1500m. Remarkably, with only nine scoring events, Roethel earned 7th place in the competition and his 3rd All-America trophy in the event.
While Roethel was struggling through the vertical events, senior Dira Hansen (Culpeper, VA) lined up for the third heat of the 800m prelims. After getting herself in to good position by the 200m mark - 2nd place on the rail - and holding it through a 62 second first lap, the field started moving without her in the second turn. A week earlier, she was able to hold steady for her School Record run, but this time she was unable to hold on and faded to 2:14.07 for 15th.
Day 2 of the Championships had one very bright spot for the Captains and Nationals first-timer Jenna Elliott (Fredericksburg, VA). After missing the previous three Championships by 1cm each (twice Indoors and once Outdoors), the sophomore took full advantage of her opportunity to perform on the National stage. Some nervous energy was expressed on a opening-height miss, but she cleared easily on her second attempt at 1.55m/5-1 and repeated that jump to clear 1.59m/5-2.5 on her first attempt. With the bar at 1.63m/5-4.25, Elliott was now jumping over her head, unlike the rest of her much taller competitors. Though it took two attempts to clear that and the next height, 1.67m/5-5.75, the last was a huge clearance that drew "oohs!" from the crowd. Ten jumpers were still alive when the bar was set at 1.70m/5-7 and Elliott had the edge on five of them by way of a cleaner record. One of those managed to scrape over the new height and though Elliott made three great attempts, she was not quite able to get the PR elevation. That left Elliott in 6th place and on the podium with her first All-America trophy.
Jenna Elliott - CNU's 106th TFXC All-American Student-Athlete
Elliott and Roethel raised the Captain's All-America total to 489. Roethel has six to his credit and Hansen owns two from her junior campaign. Elliot is the 106th CNU TFXC student-athlete to earn All-America status.