DELAWARE, Ohio - Comprising Linfield's largest delegation to the NCAA Division III Track & Field Championships in three years, three Wildcats get the opportunity to go head-to-head against the nation's best beginning Friday at Ohio Wesleyan University's George Gauthier Track at Selby Stadium.
Kate Shear is the only Wildcat making a trip to the national championships, where she finished 12th in the javelin as a freshman in 2011. Fellow spear thrower Morgunn Ewing and rookie 100-meter hurdler Dallas Edge (Sr., Gig Harbor, Wash.) qualified for the meet for the first time in their young careers.
“It's really a testament of how hard they've worked all year,” said head coach Travis Olson of the three competitors. “They've really bought into the program.”
With the ninth fastest time of competitors entered into the 100-meter hurdles, Edge stands the best chance of earning All-America status, awarded to the top eight finishers. But Olson considers all three Wildcats to be very competitive, and as a six-time All-American during his time as a Wildcat, knows that anything can happen if his student-athletes perform up to their standards.
“If you can throw at your PR or a little bit farther, you're probably going to be an All-American,” he said. “There are a lot of people who wilt under pressure and don't compete as well as they did throughout the regular season.”
Kate Shear, javelin
Shear enters her second career national championship meet seeded 18th with a season-best throw of 137 feet, 4 inches (41.86 meters). That mark is a little more than four feet off her school record of 141-07 (43.15m) but the senior is arguably the healthiest she has been since her freshman year.
After essentially two years of not competing at all or playing it safe in terms of training since suffering an injury to her throwing arm at the start of her sophomore season, Shear is finally to the point of not constantly thinking or worrying about the health of her arm, Olson said.
“I'm really proud of her just because she started out so well and had an unfortunate injury, and now she's back to where we think she should be,” Olson said. “Hopefully she'll throw a PR when she's there.”
In addition to her good health and general experience of competing at the national championships, Shear has the added benefit of throwing at a site she is familiar with, and enjoys competing at. Ohio Wesleyan's javelin runway is located in a secluded area south of the stadium surrounded by trees. Should Shear, who took third at the NWC Championships, throw in the 140-foot range, she could place as an All-American.
Morgunn Ewing, javelin
Qualifying on his second-to-last throw of the regular season at the Whitworth NCAA Final Qualifying Meet, Ewing became the first Wildcat male to earn a spot at the national championships since twin brothers Josh and Jeremy Lovell qualified for the decathlon in 2010.
Ewing enters the meet with the 15th best mark of any Division III competitor this year at 198 feet even (60.36 meters). He posted his highest finish at the conference meet this season, placing fifth.
Like Shear, Ewing has had his share of injuries, and was not sure if he would be able to compete this season. Overcoming some occasional frustrations in working with coaches to break down his throw to eradicate certain habits from high school, the sophomore is putting it all together at the right time. Ewing's qualifying throw was a five-foot PR and 15 feet farther than his best toss at the NWC Championships, moving him from ninth to fifth on Linfield's Top 10 list. A throw of more than 200 feet could result in All-America honors.
“Javelin is a freaky event because you can make such big jumps. It's very technical and it's a very intense movement…putting that all together is sometimes hit-or-miss,” Olson said. “Big jumps are not uncommon. Just being able to get more and more consistent with things within the throw is where you'll find people that separate themselves in competition.”
Dallas Edge, 100-meter hurdles
Edge had a phenomenal rookie season despite getting a late start. After missing the fall season due to soccer obligations, not being on campus during January term and suffering from a nasty cold that only allowed her to compete in one indoor meet, Edge entered the outdoor season with little speed endurance background.
It seemed to make little difference. Edge broke a 13-year school record in just her fourth career outdoor meet as a Wildcat, and has consistently run 14.7 or faster since then, including a winning time of 14.27 seconds at the Northwest Conference Championships.
“She doesn't like to lose,” Olson said. After Edge ran up against some of George Fox's elite hurdlers and lost, “we fixed a few things with her trail leg, getting a little bit more efficient and not sailing over the hurdle as much and she's obviously made some huge strides.”
Only a freshman, Edge is making her first appearance at the national championships. But don't expect her to be happy just to be there.
“Dallas is very competitive,” Olson said. “She doesn't want to just go there to get the experience; she wants to do something when she gets there. She can go there and make some noise.”
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS (Eastern Daylight Time):
Women's 100-meter hurdles, prelims: Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Women's javelin, finals: Saturday at noon
Women's 100-meter hurdles, finals: Saturday at 2:25 p.m.
Men's javelin, finals: Saturday at 3 p.m.
A complete event schedule can be found here.
Live results, provided by the Ohio Wesleyan Sports Information Department, are available.