Grace Men Claim NCCAA Track and Field Title, Women Finish 2nd
Grace’s track and field team enjoyed success at the national stage at the 2022 NCCAA Outdoor Track and Field National Championships.
The men’s team repeated as the NCCAA national champions, and the women finished as the national runners-up to match their finish from a year ago. The men’s title is their second-ever in track and field team history.
It marks the 11th overall title in the history of Grace Athletics. It comes on the heels of Grace’s 10th championship as the Lancers’ men’s tennis squad claimed the NCCAA title hours earlier on Friday afternoon.
Grace’s coaching staff was named the NCCAA National Coaching Staff of the Year for the men’s side at the conclusion of the meet.
The men’s team used a dominating performance in the middle distance events and strategic finishes in a wide variety of areas to capture the national crown.
The women’s team also had a number of stellar results, finishing just two points behind the overall winners.
“This was an awesome day for everyone,” said Grace head coach Michael Moffitt. “This is a very deserving group. They put it out there and sacrificed for each other. They represented Grace and Christ well with their hard work and dedication. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
The men’s team took the lead in the meet after capturing four spots in the 1,500-meter race. Dimitri Margaritidis won the event in 3:53.94, followed closely by Logan Rufenacht in 3:54.84. Kyle Smith claimed fourth in 3:58.38, and Korry Hamlin finished seventh in 4:03.68.
Margaritidis came back to finish second in the 800 at 1:54.35. Five more Lancers followed as Grace runners claimed six of the eight places. Bryan Hernandez-Rios (1:54.36), Kyle Smith (1:54.85), Isaac Beatty (1:54.94), Rufenacht (1:55.62) and Luke Smith (1:55.69) helped score 28 points in the event.
Hernandez-Rios won the 5,000 race earlier in the day, finishing in 15:29.69. Brandon Kleber was sixth in the event (16:07.41).
The women also jumped into the championship hunt in the middle distance events. Kylie Sauder (4:49.93), Heather Plastow (4:53) and Anna Hulstedt (4:55.18) captured the top-three spots in the 1,500, while Elizabeth Moore (5:12.74) was sixth. Moore added a third-place finish in the 5,000 (19:55.99).
Sauder also won the 800 in 2:15.17, followed by Plastow (2:16.75) and Tara Friesen (2:16.93) to sweep the three All-American spots. Makenzie Adams (2:22.53) was sixth, and Hulstedt ended eighth (2:23.52).
The meet ended in exciting fashion as both the men’s and women’s 4×400 squads established new school records. The women’s foursome of Friesen, Zoe Huley, Sauder and Lyne Camara won the event in 3:55.67, which is also a NAIA “B” qualifying mark.
The men’s relay made a late charge, but fell a fraction short of the event title. The group of Michael Williams, Luke Smith, Beatty and Kyle Smith finished in 3:18.27 to finish second by .02.
Many other Grace athletes contributed to the success of both teams. The women’s 4×100 relay (Camara, Nordia Campbell, Huley, Gracious O’Connor) finished second (47.45); the men’s 4×100 relay (Williams, Josh Pike, Myles Frohling, John Green) ended fifth in a season-best 42.22; Camara was third in the 400 (58.14); O’Connor ended second in the 100 (12.23) and third in the 200 (24.71); Campbell finished third in the 100 (12.36) and fourth in the 200 (24.79).
Green ended eighth in the 100 (11.05) and third in the 200 (21.68); Emma Conrad bettered her own school record to finish fifth in the 100 hurdles (15.01); Connor Kitson placed sixth in the 110 hurdles (16.39); Michael Williams was sixth in the 400 (50.29); Mackenzie DeLong ended seventh in the shot put (40-feet-2); and Emma Lehman finished sixth in the pole vault (9-6.25).
The Lancer men scored 147 points to outscore Bethel (132.33), Greenville (127.67) and Campbellsville (92). Bethel won the women’s competition with 150 points, with Grace scoring 148. Greenville (118) and Campbellsville (107) rounded out the top four. A total of 23 teams competed in the meet.
Grace will now set its sights on the NAIA National Championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., May 25-27. The Lancers have four relays and several individuals qualified to compete at nationals.