M Indoor Track & Field
News Photo
Indoor Track & Field - Sat, Mar. 5, 2016

To say that the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships is a marathon to the finish as opposed to a race to the crown would be an understatement. The Doane women's track and field team scored points on all three days of the meet, from the first event to the last event and every where in between as they posted 61.5 points to bring home the NAIA National Runner-up trophy, finishing in 2nd Place. Wayland Baptist was the team champion with 72 points and the Tigers edged out the favorite entering the meet, Indiana Tech, by half a point as they finished with 61 points. Siena Heights took fourth with 59.50 points.

The Tiger men also faired well, bringing home a fifth place finish after posting 45 points at the national meet and narrowly being edged out of the hardware. Indiana Tech was the team champion with 105 points and Wayland Baptist took second with 77 points. Siena Heights finished with 47 points for fourth place, edging out the Tigers on the final race of the day as they scored five points in the 4x400m relay.

In total, the Tiger athletes brought home 32 NAIA All-American honors by placing in the Top 8 of an event. The runner-up finish for the Tiger women was their best indoor finish since a runner-up finish in 2003.

"This was an amazing and unbelievable weekend," said Doane head coach Ed Fye. "We had to roll with the highs and the lows. Someone was always there to step up and pick up their teammate. In every event the kids fought and competed, they believed they belonged here."

For the women, action started on Thursday in the pentathlon, the first scored event of the meet. The Tigers took early control with a 1-2-4 finish to collect 23 points. Paige Hervert (FR/Ravenna, Neb.) won the national title with Breanna Fye (SR/Crete, Neb.) taking second and Kylie Gokie (JR/Lincoln, Neb.) finishing fourth. (SEE THURSDAY RECAP)

"Paige answered the call as a freshman and that is impressive," Fye said. "Either you have the heart to do it or you don't and she really stepped up the last three events. I was so proud of the ladies and my proudest moment came with seeing my niece (Breanna Fye) go from not placing in the conference meet as a freshman to earning national runner-up."

Doane's only points on the women's side on Friday came in the 4x800m relay where Marissa Moore (SR/Norfolk, Neb.), Logan Sieck (JR/Martell, Neb.), Sarah Kottwitz (SO/Lincoln, Neb.) and Marissa DeWispelare (JR/David City, Neb.) teamed up for a 6th place finish. Doane was in second place following the second day of action.

Looking for a quick start on Saturday, the Tigers opened in grand fashion. Tameca Wallace (JR/Mandeville, Jamaica) posted a personal best jump of 40-04.00, two inches off the school record, as she won the triple jump national championship by half an inch. The victory would signify how close of a race to the end the day was going to turn out. Hervert was edged out of the finals as she placed 10th with a top jump of 37-02.25.

"She had high expectations when she came to Doane but was hurt last year and struggled," Fye commented. "We changed her training this year and limited her action to see where she would be towards the end of the season. She kept improving and stayed healthy and came into nationals with the mind set to win."

The Tigers turned to the track where Rachel Bramhall (JR/Papillion, Neb.) was the last to qualify in the 60m hurdles on Friday. Showing why every race counts, Bramhall won her heat of the finals and posted the fourth best time as she was clocked in 8.88 seconds and edged out for third place by 0.01, yet another close finish.

In the 600m run, Sydney Holtmeier (SR/DeWitt, Neb.) posted a fourth place finish as she ran a personal best time of 1:34.93, being edged out for third by 0.17. In the 3000m run, Marissa DeWispelare ran a personal best time as she cracked the 10-minute mark with a time of 9:59.65. She edged out the third place runner by 0.22 to earn an extra two points to the Tigers' team score.

As the individual running events were concluding for the Tigers, they returned focus to the field events one last time. In the high jump, three Tigers were battling for placing at a height of 5-05.00. Only one Tiger, Haley Nast (SO/Bellevue, Neb.), would get a tie-breaker based on jump attempts and she tied for eighth place to score 0.50 point (1 point split between two competitors). Shay Brown (FR/Roca, Neb.) tied for 10th with a height of 5-05.00 and Fye tied for 14th at 5-05.00 as previous jump attempts pushed them off the leaderboard. Hervert finished tied for 17th with a mark of 5-03.75 and Claire Sintek (FR/Norfolk, Neb.) took 20th with a height of 5-03.75.

The women saw Indiana Tech and Siena Heights vault them in the team standings prior to the final two relays as both teams scored points in the shot put, high jump and 200m dash. With only the relays left, the Tigers had one more burst to try and make a move as Siena Heights was done for the meet and Indiana Tech had a 4x400m relay team.

First up was the distance medley relay which featured the Doane team of Moore, Kalyn Brannagan (JR/Shelton, Neb.), Kottwitz and DeWispelare. The Tigers didn't have the race they wanted, running a time of 12:15.08, to place eighth but it did earn them one team point.

The final race of the championships was the 4x400m relay and Doane was paired in the same heat as Indiana Tech. The Tigers needed to finish two spots ahead of the Warriors to vault them in the team standings, as well as a fourth place or better performance to jump Siena Heights.

Due to the size of the track in Johnson City, Tennessee, the finals were run in two heats. The final heat, which featured Doane, was won by Southern University with Wayland Baptist taking second. Doane's team of Gokie, Emily Harsin (SO/Syracuse, Neb.), Holtmeier and Bramhall posted a season-best time of 3:48.10 to place third. Indiana Tech was fourth in the heat with a time of 3:50.02, however, Carroll College won the first heat in a time of 3:49.46 to slide in between the Tigers and Warriors in the final 4x400m standings to give Doane the edge in the overall standings against Indiana Tech.

"You should be running head to head in the finals at national championships and it may have been the different either way for us," Fye said. "I think in the final race it was to our benefit to be in two heats because Indiana Tech was gauging itself off of us and not Carroll. Our kids kept the right mindset to give their best in each event and not worry about the multiple heats during finals."

Following Friday's performances that featured two national titles and 30 team points (SEE FRIDAY RECAP), the men used three All-American performances in the pole vault on Saturday to collect 15 points to move up the team standings. Andy Tatum (SR/Lincoln, Neb.) finished second with a height of 16-04.75. Drew Klein (FR/Papillion, Neb.) took third as he hit a height of 15-09.00 and Kale Wolken (SR/Tecumseh, Neb.) finished eighth with a height of 15-05.00. Holden Oelke (SR/Hickman, Neb.) placed 11th with a vault of 14-11.00.

"Kale (Wolken) is one of the most amazing athletes and people I've been around," Fye said of his senior. "He has fought through a nagging injury over the last month that has prevented him from competing at a high level but he is so competitive and pushes himself for his teammate. His efforts from the heptathlon to the final event in the pole vault were an amazing feat."

Joining Wolken with a national title was Kevin Murphy (SR/St. Paul, Minn.) in the long jump. Fye recalled that after last year's meet where Murphy fouled on his three jumps that he apologized for letting his coach and team down. Murphy envisioned being on the podium as his motivation and he persevered all the way to the title.

Doane also had competitors on Saturday in the shot put and triple jump. John Clouse (SR/Friend, Neb.) advanced to finals and finished ninth with a throw of 52-02.75 in the shot put. Ben Berreckman (SO/Holdrege, Neb.) took 23rd with a throw of 48-02.50. In the triple jump, De'Andre Miller (JR/Los Angeles, Calif.) was edged out of the finals and finished 10th with a jump of 46-08.00.

In addition to the success on the track, the team also received the NAIA Champions of Character Award for their efforts in displaying the five core values the NAIA embraces.

"The atmosphere on the weekend was so surreal, from the team support to the fans who attended to the fellow GPAC schools that were supporting each other," remarked Fye. "This is a weekend that won't soon be forgotten."