By Graham Lucas
Ohio Wesleyan dominated at this year’s Division III Indoor Track and Field championships where five Battling Bishops earned All-American honors. The distinguished two day event from March 8 and 9 was held at North Central College’s facility in Naperville, Ill.
Senior Emily Amburgey received her All-American honor by clearing 5’5” in the high-jump that tied for sixth place. Amburgey also earned the All-American title her freshman year by placing fifth in the outdoor high jump. She said earning the honors this time around was even more special than the first.
“I think it meant a lot more to me because it had been such a long time since I was an All-American my freshman year,” Amburgey said. “I was able to see my hard work finally pay off again. It was well worth the hard work and the wait.”
Amburgey’s efforts gave the OWU women’s track team two and a half points, earning them 54th place at the Championship meet. Amburgey said she deals with the pre-meet pressure in a whole different way.
“I always go into every meet with the same competitive mindset, no matter what the stakes are, and I always get nervous no matter where I am,” Amburgey said.
“All my coaches know I love to laugh and joke around, and that helps me get my mind off matters at hand. It’s quite the sight to see at a meet like the national championship. Everyone is so serious and focused and here my coaches and I are laughing and joking around. We get a lot of weird looks from competitors, but we get the job done.”
Seniors Ethan Freet and Silas Jolliff placed third and fifth respectively in the 400-meter dash. Head Coach Kris Boey told the athletics website two All-Americans in one event is a rare occurrence.
Freet, a transfer from Cincinnati University two years ago, has built a successful career at OWU. Freet is a five-time All-American as a Battling Bishop and was just recognized as the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) regional Track Athlete of the Year.
Senior Matt Martin and sophomore Brian Cook teamed up with Freet and Jolliff to earn second place in the 1600-meter relay. The finish was an all-time best for OWU, something Cook said is a “great honor.” Freet told the athletics website the experience has been incredible.
“To finally be able to go out and put a race together at the national championship meet with those three guys was a little overwhelming,” Freet said in an interview.
“We have been working for years to do what we did, and it felt great being able to finally have the four of us on the podium together.”
Those efforts, along with sophomore Matt Hunter’s ninth place heptathlon finish earned the men’s team 18 points and seventh place in the final standings, an OWU best. Martin said the senior aspect intensifies the whole experience.
Coach Boey, who has produced 15 All-Americans and 271 NCAC champions during his career at OWU, told the athletics website he is proud of his team.
“The thing that was most impressive was that each of our athletes bettered themselves in spite of the nerves associated with the championship,” Boey said in an interview.
“Simply stated, they competed like champions at a national championship meet. We’re proud of what we accomplished over the last several days at the indoor NCAA championship. Our men’s and women’s programs were well-represented by first-class student-athletes.”