Season Outlook

Joe Rumschlag
Joe Rumschlag

The Wittenberg men's and women's indoor track and field teams open up the 2005 season with a meet at Marietta College on Saturday. It will be the first competition for a team now missing many of its top performers from recent years but still with high expectations.

The men's team is coping with the graduation losses of Skip Ivery, one of just three NCAA track champions in Wittenberg history, and Tim Gaal, a three-time national qualifier and a two-time North Coast Athletic Conference Field Events Athlete of the Year, among several other personnel departures. The women's team is without graduated Geri Woessner, an all-conference performer in three sports during her Wittenberg career and the school and NCAC record-holder in the heptathlon, and middle distance specialist Kelly Zilli, who holds several school records and reached the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships in the 800 meters a year ago. 

All that said, the cupboard, as always, is hardly bare. With about a dozen returning letterwinners among both the men and women, both teams have high hopes they will once again be in the mix for the conference championships - indoor in early March and outdoor in early May.

The Tiger men are led in 2005 by senior Joe Rumschlag (Maumee, Ohio/Toledo Christian), an all-conference performer in each of his first three seasons in the Red & White and also a standout wide receiver for the football team last fall. Already the owner of several school records, Rumschlag will be a factor in the decathlon, sprints and jumping events, and he is aiming for his first berth in the NCAA Division III meet.

In the sprints, Rumschlag will have plenty of quality company, starting with a pair of returners in sophomore Gregg Carter (Wellsville, Ohio/Wellsville) and juniorDavid Bazzel (Tipp City, Ohio/Tippecanoe). Among the most prominent newcomers are senior LaMarr Lewis (Trotwood, Ohio/Madison), who has battled injuries in his career but appears healthy and ready to go in 2005, and freshmanSean Gouch (Columbus, Ohio/Mifflin).

In the hurdles, junior Tom Smith (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) is the lone accomplished returnee. Among the athletes expected to excel in this discipline are senior Greer Illingworth (Irvine, Calif./University) and freshman Bobby Mansour (Mantua, Ohio/Crestwood).

In the jumps, Rumschlag, Carter and sophomore Tim Lovett (Jeffersonville, Ohio/Miami Trace) are the holdovers. They will be joined by freshmen Aaron Robinson (Monroeville, Ohio/Monroeville), David Emrath (Lloyd, Ky./Elsmere) andD.J. Hlovchiec (Loveland, Ohio/Moeller), all of whom excelled in high school and have established marks that should translate well to the next level. In addition, junior Chad Kresser (Findlay, Ohio/Findlay) will be involved in a variety of events for the Tigers and is expected to be a factor in the conference decathlon chase.

The throwing events will feature sophomore Andy Karcher (Oceola, Ohio/Bucyrus Wynford), junior Thomas Dillingham (Cincinnati, Ohio/Princeton)and sophomore Glenn Taylor (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg). Karcher and Dillingham both lettered a year ago.

Finally, a strong group of freshmen are making the transition from cross country to track in 2005, and hopes are high that their dedication will pay off in the form of strong finishes. Leading the way is Mike Echols (Springfield, Ohio/North), the team's top cross country finisher all fall. He is joined by fellow first-year studentsDavid Wallingford (Bellevue, Ohio/Bellevue), Shawn Hils (Hiram, Ohio/Crestwood)Mike Wismer (Avon, Ohio/Avon)Darren Stough (Frazeyburg, Ohio/River View) and Jon Dewald (Mansfield, Ohio/Senior), while junior Bill Childers (Lebanon, Ohio/Lebanon) is also in the mix this year.

On the women's side, the returning athletes aren't quite as accomplished, but there is plenty of potential, starting with senior Tina Valerius (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) and sophomore Jessica McClish (Shelby, Ohio/Shelby), both of whom compete in sprints, hurdles and jumping events, and junior Anna Finkelstein (Whitehall, Mich./Reeths-Puffer), who hopes to pick up where Zilli left off in the middle distance events.

Freshmen Nicole Bailey (Cincinnati, Ohio/Summit Country Day) and Chastity Sandridge (Euclid, Ohio/Euclid) come in with high expectations in the sprints and hurdles. Bailey and freshman Michelle Kyle (Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) are expected to also make an impact in jumps.

In the throwing events, sophomore Lisa Nicholls (North Bend, Ore./North Bend)earned All-NCAC honors a year ago and hopes to improve upon her marks this year. Junior Michele Gardner (Bellevue, Ohio/Norwalk St. Paul), who lettered as a freshman, and first-year students Allison Walker (Columbus, Ohio/Columbus Academy) and Jennifer Graff (Middletown, Ohio/Madison) also will be counted on for production in 2005.

Rounding things out, the Tigers have a mix of experience and youth in the middle distance and distance events. Finklestein will be joined by sophomores Sarah Yehle (West Lafayette, Ind./West Lafayette) and Meredith Deitsch (Edgerton, Ohio/Edgerton) and freshmen Alissa Goble (Sunfield, Mich./Lakewood) and Mary Beth Lintz (Englewood, Ohio/Northmont). Lintz led the Tigers in all but one cross country event during the fall, and Goble was close on her heels.