From May 26-28, Wartburg will be hosting the NCAA Division III Track and Field National Championships. Wartburg began preparing for the national event three years ago when the athletic department put in a bid to host it.
“We wanted to host the 2012 Outdoor Championships, but they were doing a four-year plan,” said head track and field coach Marcus Newsom.
Newsom said that the four-year plan was the reason Wartburg was chosen for the 2016 national event. Once Wartburg discovered the bid was approved, Monica Severson, head women’s golf coach and senior women’s administrator began coordinating for the event. Severson was also the meet director when the Knights hosted the championships in 2005, for the first time. Ann Arns, professor of physical education, is working alongside Severson as well to coordinate volunteers for the event.
“Because of our traditions here at Wartburg, we have lots of volunteers who want to help,” Newsom said. Alumni, parents and athletes who do not qualify for the event have expressed their interest in helping with the event, said Newsom.
The biggest challenge Wartburg has had for hosting the National Championships has been preparing for it. While there are many volunteers and hands ready to help, there are certain other qualifications that must be met, including officials and timekeepers.
“The NCAA gives us a number of officials that they want to have, but then we have to find other ones,” said Newsom.
He added, “One of the head of officials working with the state of Iowa officials has two children who are alums of Wartburg, which is a real asset to Wartburg finding officials.”
Newsom said the connection to active membership allows Wartburg to find the best officials for the national event. They find many of their officials also officiate Drake Relays as well. In addition to student-athletes assisting with the Championships, Wartburg may have a few athletes participating as well.
National qualifiers have not been determined yet.
Newsom said he has been telling his athletes to look at the event as an opportunity, not as pressure to do well. He said his main focus has been to talk to the athletes about the excitement of having it here and not necessarily winning. The Knights have won eight national championships over the years. Having the event here not only means big things for the Cedar Valley, but also for current student-athletes at the college.
“Hosting the national meet at Wartburg is really exciting. I am looking forward to competing for another one in front of the home crowd, on our own, ‘turf,'” said Kailey Kladivo, a senior, dual-sport athlete for basketball and track and field.
While Wartburg needs to meet NCAA requirements as a hosting facility, some of those requirements include security specifications.
“We need to have a security officer and a police officer on the grounds when there is active competition,” said John Myers, of Wartburg Security.
Myers said Wartburg Security is working with Waverly Police for the event. Security has asked that the intersection of 5th Avenue and 12th Street be made no parking. Myers said hosting the national meet this year will be different than 2005 because the event was earlier in May Term that year, when students were still on campus.