2010 NCAA Outdoor T&F Championships

 

Ohio Athletes Day Two Recap


Case's Obinna Nwanna took the decathlon
national title.

By: Norm Weber
Special to the Plain Dealer
May 28, 2010

Harrison Dillard Audio Interview with Norm Weber
Obinna Nwanna Audio Interview with Norm Weber
Kyle Faris Audio Interview with Norm Weber

BEREA, OHIO –
One decathlete from a Cleveland college was competing to become the national champion in the 10-part event while another from another Cleveland college was making the climb to at least attain All American status through the second pentathlon held today here at Baldwin Wallace.
 
As it shook out, Case Reserve’s Obinna Nwanna wound up making the city of Cleveland and local area proud by winning the decathlon in the NCAA Division III Track and Field Nationals here on the Tressel Field Track in the George Finnie Stadium.
 
Meanwhile BW’s Steve Price, a North Olmsted native, made it two local college representatives in the top 10 spots in the decathlon by finishing 10th.
 
Nwanna started the day in third place after Thursday’s first five events, while Price sat in ninth, one spot away from earning a spot on the podium and an All-American trophy.
 
“I am usually a first-day guy,” said Nwanna. “I usually get most of my points in those first five events and if I am sitting in a decent spot in the middle of the whole event, I have a good shot at winning. Winning this title is the highlight of my career.”
 
Price took sixth place in today’s first event, the 110-meter hurdles, and then threw a lifetime personal best 119 feet-7 inches in the discus in the second event of the day, earning him fifth, leaving him still ninth after seven events but only 51 points out of eighth and 61 out of seventh with a 4,887 total.
 
He is the first to admit that his worst events are the shot in discus, but paradoxically those were the two events he did best in here at nationals.
 
Nwanna took third in the hurdles, but it was not until the discus was completed that he moved into second place. His 126-3 throw gave him second in the discuss and only 10 points behind the overall leader Central College’s Kurtis Brondyke, with 5,185 points.
 
“I have been getting a little better in the throws so that helped me get a lot of points today,” said Nwanna, a biomedical engineering major. “I try to block out what the other guys are doing but it is hard not to know what is going on in the whole thing. I just kept my focus and made sure I would not explode in the 1,500.”
 

1949 BW graduate and four-time Olympic
Gold Medalist Harrison Dilliard.
By the time the pole vault, the eighth event, was finished, Nwanna took over the lead and Price moved into the No. 8 spot. Nwanna took fifth and Price 10th  in the pole vault to pick up enough points to move up a notch. Nwanna had 10 points on the No. 2 man, Central’s Ethan Miller, while Price had was 13 points above no. 9 and eight away from No. 7.
 
Nwanna maintained the lead after the ninth event, the javelin, walking off the field with the fourth best throw total, one spot ahead of Price, who dropped back down to ninth with only the 1,500 meter race to go.
 
Price was 66 points out of eighth while Nwanna was nearly 200 points ahead of No. 2 man after nine, Brondyke.
 
Then he finished in last in the 1,500, his worst event, but still had gained enough in the first nine events to not lose the top spot, finishing with 7,056 points, 34 ahead of Linfield’s Josh Lovell.
 
The biggest local surprise of the day was BW distance runner Kim Chinn, who finished second in the steeplechase despite coming in seeded 10th and having little experience with the race, just taking up the event for the first time this season.
 
“Just getting here in this event was enough of a thrill for me since it is still a new event to me,” said Chinn. “I was hoping to finish no lower than 10th and if I had a good race would have been happy taking eighth. The whole race I knew it could be my best race ever since I jumped out and was at least fifth most of the race. By the middle, I was hoping to finish at least eighth, and if I could get in the top five that would be great. I really surprised myself with a second place. Hearing all my friends yelling my name throughout the 7 ½ laps was a big help.”  
 
The shot put championships had three local men vying for national honors, led by BW’s Greg Patrick, who wound up earning All American laurels for finishing seventh in the nation. Mount Union’s Judd Lutz finished 10th and Olmsted Falls High alumnus Kyle Faris 11th for Ohio Wesleyan.
 
“It was not one of my better days, but I at least finished 11th after coming in seeded 16th so I guess I did better than I was supposed to do,” Faris said. “I have been bothered by a sore shoulder so that had something to do with it, but I have had that for quite some time so that is no excuse.”
 
National champion Brandon Fugett nailed it on his last throw, a 17.91 meters heave, which was the best throw for the whole year for anyone in Division III, in or post season.
 
Patrick finished eighth and made All-American last year and followed that with a third in the indoor nationals in March.
 
“It is an improvement to go from eighth to seventh in a year, but after taking third at the indoor meet, I was expecting a little more,” Patrick said. “I am still happy to be on the podium again. It was nice to be able to sleep in my own bed and come right over to the meet, but I still did not throw well. I was not getting enough of a push off my left foot than I should have.”
 
Patrick finished higher that Fugett at the indoor meet, realizing that a first certainly was do-able.
 
In the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Cloverleaf High alumnus Cory Beebe qualified to Saturday’s finals by winnings his heat in 52.13, the second best time among all three heats, giving him a middle lane for the finals. The Medina native also qualified in the 400 hurdles Thursday for Salisbury University.
 
Cleveland native and Trinity High alumna Elise Johnson qualified to tomorrow’s 100 hurdles by having the second best time overall in the prelims with a 14.11, .04 off the best mark going into the finals. Johnson also qualified to nationals in the 100 dash, but finished fourth in her heat today to just miss qualifying for two finals tomorrow.
 
“The hurdles race is my better race,” said Johnson, who runs for Williams College, the alma mater of Bay Village native and current New Yorker George Steinbrenner. “It was nice to have a cheering section here for me and coming back this week allowed me to see my new nephew for the first time. Knowing that the nationals would be here gave me the extra push to do well enough in the other meets this season to get here.”
 
Johnson also ran on the 400 relay team for Williams that qualified to here but failed to make it out of the prelims Thursday.
 
Mary Mahoney, the only freshmen in the country to advance to the nationals in the 400 dash, finished 14th in the prelims today for Mount Union.
 
The event was blessed with a special guest today. Nineteen-forty-nine BW graduate Harrison Dillard came to watch some of the races. Dillard, also an East Tech grad, of course is still the only man ever to win the Olympic Gold in both the hurdles and sprints during the same year.
 
Dillard sat with his friend Ted Theodore, a teammate and classmate of his at East Tech and BW in the 1940s, and long-time Cleveland sports writers Chuck Murr and Norm Weber in the infield on Tressel Field Track.
 
Dillard discussed the old times in comparison to the new and how he might have done on the synthetic surface instead of the old cinders, how specialization has taken over in the sport, the various levels, the half dozen high school meets he attends each year, how much he enjoyed fielding calls from children on Saturday’s and Sundays in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s on his Sportswatch Show on WERE and how excited he was that his alma mater was holding a national meet like this.
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