By Justine Espersen
For the first time the school’s history, Olivet’s men’s track team won the 2012 NCCAA National Championship.
The Tigers finished first out of 19 teams, scoring 140 points at the national meet hosted at Cedarville University (Ohio).
“All of the training and great coaching staff led our team to victory,” said sophomore Ross Johnson.
Johnson placed first in the 400-meter dash and anchored the win in the 4×400 meter relay. He also was one of the 15 nominated All-Americans.
“I am proud to be a part of this team and to represent Olivet. Being an All-American and national champions is a huge accomplishment and privilege,” Johnson said.
Junior Marcus Reynolds placed second in the 55-meter high hurdles, bringing seven points to the team’s score.
“This is the best team I think Olivet has ever put together in the sense that we have athletes who can score in just about every event from sprints, to jumps, to throws, and long distance,” Reynolds said.
Senior Justin Jones brought in eight points for the team with his second-place finish in the mile run.
“I think the team did incredible. We had a lot of big performances from a lot people and had so many people step up and do their part,” Jones said. “To win a track meet, it takes the contribution of all the parts of a team, and everyone did so well.”
Although the team consists mainly of underclassmen, there are great expectations for the team to continue to dominate meets.
“I’m a junior, but the core of our team are all sophomores and freshmen and we keep bringing in great recruits, so there’s no reason they can’t defend our indoor title for the next three years at least,” Reynolds said.
To complete their indoor season, the Tigers will be at the NAIA national meet March 1 to 3, hosted by the Geneva Area Recreational Education and Athletic Trust in Geneva, Ohio. They will then look to repeat their winter success in their spring outdoor season.
“We have a great shot at winning the outdoor NCCAA national championship this year, as well as winning our third straight conference title,” Reynolds said.
Their indoor national title has served to reinforce the team’s high hopes for the rest of the season.
“I think this could certainly be the best track season that ONU’s men’s team has ever had,” Jones said. “We have the depth and personnel this year like we never had before.”