The Wittenberg University men’s and women’s track and field teams turned in a solid 2005 season, hopefully laying the groundwork for a return to the top of the North Coast Athletic Conference with a host of young athletes who showed a commitment to improving early in their collegiate careers.
The men’s team finished fourth in the North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Championships and third in the NCAC Outdoor Championships in 2005, a year after losing two of the most prolific performers in the program’s history in Tim Gaal and Skip Ivery. Most of the athletes who scored points at those two events will be back in the fold in 2006.
The women finished seventh in the NCAC Indoor and Outdoor Championships a year after two of its best athletes ever in Geri Woessner and Kelly Zilli, but several individuals shined brightly. Every athlete who scored at least one team point in the conference championship events was an underclassman.
Senior Joe Rumschlag (Maumee, Ohio/Toledo Christian) was named Field Events Athlete of the Year at the 2005 NCAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, fitting nicely alongside his 2004 and 2005 Indoor Field Events Athlete of the Year awards.
Track athletes earn All-NCAC recognition with a top-three finish in the NCAC meet. The Tigers claimed third place in the men’s NCAC outdoor championship meet, while the women finished seventh.
Rumschlag was outstanding, earning All-NCAC honors with a third-place finish in the 100 meters, second in the 200 meters, first in the long jump, first in the triple jump and first in the decathlon. In addition, Rumschlag ran a leg on the 400-meter relay and the 1600-meter relay, both of which placed second. Those seven all-conference finishes, exceeding his 2004 total by one, in combination with five All-NCAC honors at the 2005 Indoor Championships, brought Rumschlag’s total number of all-conference designations to an astounding 32. Six of those All-NCAC awards were earned with long jump titles, three each in indoor and outdoor.
Individually, the Tiger men turned in four other all-conference performances during the outdoor championship meet. Freshman David Emrath (Elsmere, Ky./Lloyd)placed third in the 400 meters, freshman Mike Echols (Springfield, Ohio/North)took third in the 800 meters, sophomore Andy Karcher (Oceola, Ohio/Bucyrus Wynford) placed third in the hammer and sophomore Mark O’Brien (Shavertown, Pa./Dallas Senior) took third place in the decathlon. It was the first all-conference award for each of them.
In the relay events, Wittenberg’s men placed second in both the 1600- and 400-meter events. In the 400-meter relay, junior David Bazzel (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe), junior Gregg Carter (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville), Rumschlag and Emrath teamed up for the All-NCAC finish. In the 1600-meter relay, Emrath, Echols, Rumschlag and senior Chad Kresser (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay) comprised the all-conference quartet for the Tigers.
On the women’s side, the team leader was precocious freshman Nicole Bailey (Cincinnati, Ohio/Summit Country Day), who earned three All-NCAC honors. Bailey placed second in the 100 meters, third in the long jump and second in the triple jump, all of which were good for all-conference designations.
In addition, freshman Allison Walker (Columbus, Ohio/Academy) placed third in the hammer throw for the first All-NCAC honor of her collegiate career.
The men claimed fourth place in the indoor championship meet, and the Tiger women finished seventh.
Rumschlag took All-NCAC honors with second-place finishes in the 200 meters and the triple jump and a first-place in the long jump for the third straight year. In addition, Rumschlag was a member of the second-place 800-meter relay and the third-place 1600-meter relay.
Rumschlag was the only member of the Tiger men’s team to earn an individual all-conference designation in the indoor meet. He was joined on the relay events by junior Gregg Carter (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville), freshman Sean Gouch (Columbus, Ohio/Mifflin) and senior Lamarr Lewis (Trotwood, Ohio/Madison) in the 800-meter relay and Echols, Gouch and Lewis in the 1600-meter relay, both of which were All-NCAC worthy.
On the women’s side, Bailey was simply outstanding in her first conference championship event, taking first place in two events and second in another. She wound up just barely on the outside looking in at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, ranking in the top 20 nationally in the 55-meter dash with a provisional qualifying time of 7.31, which is also a school record. She was not among the competitors selected for the meet, however.
Bailey earned a trio of all-conference honors as she finished second in the triple jump, first in the long jump and first in the 55 meters. In addition, freshman Michelle Kyle (Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) reached All-NCAC status with a third-place finish in the high jump.
A total of three records fell during the 2005 season.
Freshman D.J. Hlovchiec (Loveland, Ohio/Moeller) set a new mark in the indoor men’s pole vault, finishing fourth at the NCAC Championships with a mark of 13-8, breaking the old record by one inch.
As mentioned previously, Bailey’s time of 7.31 in the 55-meter dash was a school record and good for an NCAA provisional qualifying mark during the indoor season.
Rounding things out, the men’s indoor 4x200 relay set a school record of 1:31.75 at the Fred Wilt Invitational at Anderson University on Feb. 1. The runners who turned in that time were Rumschlag, Emrath, Gouch and Carter.
The Wittenberg men’s and women’s cross country teams finished ninth and eighth in the 2004 NCAC Championship meet respectively.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams were extremely young in 2004, but Head Coach Steve Shutt believes he has a core group of runners who are committed to the team and intent on improving their times in the future. That bodes well for 2005 and beyond.
On the men’s side, Echols paced the team in every meet in 2004. In most meets, he was trailed by freshmen in three of the next four scoring positions, with only junior Chris Petrik (Mayfield Heights, Ohio/Highland Heights) breaking up a string of college rookies in most meets.
Echols’ top time this season of 27:33 was turned in at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional meet on Nov. 13, a positive sign that he peaked at the right time. The team’s top three finishers in that race all had season-best times as Petrik posted a mark of 27:53 and freshman Shawn Hils (Hiram, Ohio/Crestwood) crossed the finish line in 28:22. Five runners on the team broke the 30-minute barrier in a race during the season.
On the women’s side, the team’s top two finishers in most of the regular season events were freshmen Alissa Goble (Sunfield, Mich./Lakewood) and Mary Beth Lintz (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont). Goble topped the squad in the first meet of the year and Lintz set the pace in all subsequent events until the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional meet. There, sophomore Sarah Yehle (West Lafayette, Ind./West Lafayette) topped the Tigers with a time of 25:29.6 on the 6,000-meter course at Alma College.
Six of the seven women runners to hit the course in the regional meet finished the race with season-best times. Yehle’s time was the best for any Wittenberg runner in the 2005 season, while Lintz posted her best mark of 25:45 at the Ohio Northern Invitational. The top five runners on the team all ran sub-27:00 times during the season, four of which came at the regional championships.
Steve Shutt (Allegheny '94) took over the coaching reins of the Wittenberg University men’s and women’s cross country and track & field teams in 1999.
Under Shutt, Wittenberg’s track & field teams have set dozens of school records. Wittenberg track and field athletes have claimed 69 indoor individual NCAC titles, 112 outdoor individual NCAC titles and two individual cross country conference crowns. In addition, eight track athletes and one cross country runner have been NCAA Division III national qualifiers and three track athletes have earned All-America honors (earning a total of seven awards) in Shutt’s six years at the helm.
Skip Ivery won the 2003 outdoor 110-meter hurdles national title and Ivery and Tim Gaal both turned in national runners-up finishes during their collegiate careers. Shutt also led the Tigers to a ninth-place finish in the 2003 outdoor national championships, Wittenberg’s best team finish ever in track and field. Fifteen student-athletes have made the Coaches Association Academic All-America teams in the last six years and a total of 10 NCAC Athlete of the Year honors have been claimed in indoor or outdoor track and field during Shutt’s tenure.
Shutt, the 2002 NCAC Outdoor Track and Field Coach of the Year, was a four-year letterwinner for the Allegheny indoor and outdoor track and field squads, earning all-conference honors in the pole vault. He came to Wittenberg after serving as the assistant coach at Hillsdale College, where he also served as director of the intramural program. While at Hillsdale, Shutt coached several national qualifiers and an All-American.