For Wartburg head coach Marcus Newsom, the final of three days at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships was the most fun.
After qualifying nine events for Saturday finals, Wartburg’s women’s outdoor track and field team became the fourth Division III program to win three straight NCAA championships with a dramatic victory in Delaware, Ohio.
Trailing Wis.-Oshkosh by six points heading into the final event of the day, Wartburg needed a first or second-place finish from its 4×400 meter relay to defend its NCAA championships.
Libbey Schubert took the baton for the final lap with the Knights in fourth and blew by three runners ahead of her before being passed at the finish line.
She hung on for second behind Wis.-La Crosse with teammates Tashina McAllister, Kayla Kregel and Kaly Adkins in 3:42.75, 1.43 seconds in front of Wis.-Eau Claire, to give Wartburg its fifth outdoor crown in program history and fourth in the last six years.
“There’s no Saturday if you don’t get through (preliminaries on) Thursday. There’s no Saturday if you don’t get through Friday. We were able to really have a good day on Thursday and a good day on Friday,” Newsom said in a live broadcast interview on NCAA.com. “You pray that the end was what your goal was and today, the end was what our goal was.”
Schubert embraced an underdog role, at least from a USTFCCCA rankings standpoint, tweeting May 14, “Rankings don’t matter! People keep asking how we feel ranked third, the answer is WE LOVE PROVING THE NATION WRONG!”
Rankings don't matter! People keep asking how we feel ranked third, the answer is WE LOVE PROVING THE NATION WRONG!
— Libbey Lou (@libbeyschubert) May 14, 2014
And they did — the third-ranked Knights edged No. 1 Wis.-Oshkosh, 65-63, for the team title. No. 4 Wis.-Whitewater was third with 44 1/2 while No. 2 Wis.-La Crosse stumbled to fourth with 28 points. Central tied for 15th and Luther tied for 28th.
“The best brings out the best,” Newsom said. “Our young ladies really stood up to the test and stayed focused and competed at their very best.”
Schubert added an individual national championship in the 200 meter dash with a time of 23.91 seconds earlier Saturday. She finished third in the 100 in 11.95, just 0.02 seconds behind the top two runners.
Also on Saturday, McAllister, who led off the 4×400, was the 400 meter hurdles runner-up for the second straight season in 59.33 and also took third in the 100 hurdles with a time of 14.22 seconds.
Haddie Vawter was third in the 1,500 (4:35.55), Sammi Bruett took fourth in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (10:37.61) for her third straight All-American honor and Taylor Moore finished fourth in the 800 (2:09.30).
Schubert and McAllister also helped the 4×100 relay take third along with Sarah Boraas and Erica Dynes. Their time of 46.79 seconds was 0.71 behind Wis.-La Crosse’s D-III championship record.
Ten of the Knights NCAA events, including nine Saturday, earned All-American status.
Wis.-Oshkosh was looking to sweep the 2014 NCAA titles after winning the indoor national championship in March with 67 points, but instead was runner-up behind the Knights for the third consecutive season. Wartburg finished third indoors with 46 points.
Newsom took over the program 20 years ago and watched Wis.-Oshkosh win three straight championships from 1995-97 and Wheaton (Mass.) do the same from 2001-03. Now, Wartburg joins that list of elites that also includes Christopher Newport (1987-89).
“To be in the likes of three in a row…is pretty special,” Newsom said. “I watched those teams compete at that level and to have our young women competing at this level right now is really special.”
On the men’s side, Colt Feltes took third in the discus throw and the 14th-ranked Knights finished 22nd with 13 1/2 points.
He’s the program’s first discus All-American and adds to his NCAA outdoor hardware after finishing third in the shot put Friday.
No. 3 Mount Union won the men’s NCAA championship with 47 points, five ahead of top-ranked Wis.-La Crosse. Dubuque was 26th with 10 and Central tied for 53rd with five.
Final Top 25 Teams
Women – 1. Wartburg (65), 2. Wis.-Oshkosh (63), 3. Wis.-Whitewater (44 1/2), 4. Wis.-La Crosse (38), 5. St. Thomas (27), T6. Washington (Mo.), Wheaton (Mass.) (23), T8. Carleton, St. Lawrence, Williams (21), T11. Cal Lutheran, Wis.-Stout (19), T13. MIT, Wis.-Eau Claire (16), 15. Amherst (14), T16. Central, Kenyon (13), T18. Concordia-Moorhead, North Central (Ill.) (12), T20. Dickinson, Hendrix, Illinois Wesleyan (11), T23. Johns Hopkins, La Verne, Misericordia, Ramapo, Tufts (10)
Men – 1. Mount Union (47), 2. Wis.-La Crosse (42), 3. North Central (Ill.) (35), 4. Wis.-Oshkosh (27), 5. Augustana (25), T6. Haverford, La Verne (23), 8. Greenville (22), T9. Baldwin Wallace, Whitworth, Wis.-Eau Claire (21), 12. Salisbury (20), 13. Wis.-Whitewater (19), T14. Christopher Newport, Oneonta State, Southern Maine (18), 17. Wis.-Stout (17), T18. Johns Hopkins, Penn State-Behrend, Washington (Mo.) (16), 21. Tufts (14), 22. Wartburg (13 1/2), 23. St. Olaf (13), 25. Carthage (12), 25. Moravian (11)