Three athletes receive national recognition at Boston meet

Hallie Hocker

Sunlight and wind are new elements to the Lions as they enter the outdoor track season.

The NCAA Division II Indoor Championships March 10 and 11 put an end to the indoor season, but not without the Lions placing ninth overall and bringing home three All-Americans – seniors Matt Campbell and Kyle Rutledge and junior Marcus Walton.

Campbell and Rutledge both cleared 16-08.00 in pole vault at the national event. Campbell took the championship on misses and Rutledge was the national runner-up.

“Our pole vaulters continued to dominate,” said Tom Rutledge, head men’s track and field coach.

He did say they were disappointed with their height because 16-08.00 is nothing to them.

“I didn’t like jumping 16-8, but winning is always good,” Campbell said.

As a whole, there weren’t jumps from anyone like the marks that got the athletes into the competition.

“It seemed like when we got there everyone was not looking very good. Nobody

popped off any big ones,” he said.

This was Campbell’s first indoor championship. He was runner-up in 2005 as well as outdoor national champion.

Rutledge earned his second indoor All-America award at the end of his NCAA eligibility and will compete unattached in the outdoor season.

Sophomore Russell Ellis also competed in the pole vault event.

“I hope the younger pole vaulters continue the tradition established,” Rutledge said. “They’ll have to try very hard because they have big shoes to fill.”

In the 800-meter run, Walton ran his way to a fourth place All-America finish with a time of 1:52.74, a half-second behind the leader.

“Marcus ran a very intelligent race,” Rutledge said.

He said if it had been the 810-meter run, Walton would have been the national champion.

Walton said his goal for the outdoor season is to drop time somehow to go to nationals.

“It’s the same thing, but just as exciting as the first time you do it,” he said.

Also at the national meet, the distance medley relay team took 10th with a time of 10:12.22. The team consisted of Kyle Davis, sophomore; Kyler Rushing, senior; Walton; and freshman Brett Musser stepping in for freshman Dustin Dixon due to an injury.

With two meets behind them, including Southern’s Track and Field Festival, the Lions are into the outdoor season.

“Everyone is excited about the outdoor season,” Campbell said. “Once we started practicing outdoors attitudes were a lot better.”

The Festival was delayed two hours Saturday due to inclement weather.

However, when the weather cleared Southern’s pole vaulters had a strong showing.

Campbell took first with 16-10.75. Rutledge took second with 16-06.75. Ellis cleared a fourth place 16-02.75, good for a provisional qualifying mark.

In the 100-meter dash, freshman Justin Franklin ran a 10.95 for second place.

“Franklin and McPeak ran two very good quality times in the 200-meter,” Rutledge said.

Freshman Ryan McPeak finished the event in 22.15 for third place. Franklin was right behind with 22.16.

McPeak also took second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.04.

“We’ve got a lot of young sprinters that if they keep improving, could be really good by the end of the year,” said Neil Hombs, assistant men’s track and field coach.

Walton continued his success in the 800-meter with a win for 1:52.91.

Musser took second in the 5,000-meter run, followed by junior Dustin Miller with times of 15:26.26 and 15:28.63, respectively.

Miller also took first in the 3,000-meter steeple chase with 9:47.10.

The 4×400-meter relay took second in 3:18.22.

Senior Mike Hines threw the discus 141-06 for second place. He also had a second place shot put throw of 52-08.25. The week before, he hit 53-00.25 in the shot put.

“Mike threw a provisional in the shot put and isn’t even close to what he can do,” Rutledge said.

Freshman Adam Sims took fifth in the shot put event with 47-09.25. Sophomore John Isenman took fifth in the hammer throw with 149-08.

Jeremy McCadney, senior who played for the Lions’ basketball team, debuted in the long jump. He took second with 21-00.50. Freshman Joe McDevitt took fourth with 20-05.75.

“We couldn’t control the weather, but with everything else I was pleased,” Rutledge said.

He said the team had good efforts and good improvements.

“Anytime you can see improvements, it helps everywhere,” he said.

The Lions compete Saturday at Pittsburg State University.