By: Brandon Cooper > Junior > Journalism > University of Maryland, Photo by David Ehringer
College Magazine knows you might have been too busy listening to Charles Barkley to catch what teams won in the other March Championships (yes, there are sports other than basketball going on this month), so here is what you need to know:
Indoor Track & Field
Unlike the upset-laden tournament of college basketball, the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship was all chalk.
On both the women’s and men’s side, the teams who won last year repeated their excellence and took home the trophy again.
Oregon’s women’s team won their fifth championship overall and second in-a-row with their dominant performance at the title meet in College Station, Texas.
The Lady Ducks used a strong performance in the mile to take a commanding lead over their opponents. Runners Jordan Hasay, Zoe Buckman and Anne Kesselring finished first, third and fourth, respectively, in the mile. Hasay also helped lead her team to victory by placing first in the 3,000 meters.
Oregon ended the meet with 67 points overall, almost 30 more than second-place Texas.
Meanwhile, on the men’s side, the Florida Gators also won back-to-back titles.
With high expectations going into the meet, Florida held off second-place Texas A&M with individual first-place performances in the triple jump and 60-meter dash.
Junior Will Claye set an NCAA meet record in the triple jump, while Demps set a school record in the 60-meter dash. Demps had also won the event at last year’s championship.
As one of only three co-ed sports in the NCAA, the sport of rifling provides a unique opportunity for fans to see both men and women battle in a competition of focus and accuracy.
The National Collegiate Rifle Championship, which was held in Columbus, Ga., on March 11-12, featured two types of rifling: small bore and air rifling.
With eight teams competing, the Kentucky Wildcats walked away with their first rifle title. Assistant coach Stacy Underwood credits the championship to a change in focus.
“We didn’t focus on the goal of becoming national champions, but focused on the process of getting there,” she said.
The Wildcats got off to a strong start on the first day of the championship when Ethan Settlemires and Heather Greathouse finished first and second, respectively, in the small bore competition.
Kentucky’s lead would barely last during the second day’s air rifle competition. West Virginia, led by Nicco Campriani, who holds the No. 1 ranking in air rifle competition, stormed back into contention. With Campriani individually winning the competition, the Wildcats were able to hold on, winning the championship by three points over the Mountaineers, 4700-4697.
“We were all checking our math,” Underwood said. “Making sure it was right. When you have 4700 points and win by three, you are checking your score.”
The Div. I Wrestling Championship in Philadelphia provided a number of underdog stories that fans often hunger for in March Madness.
Arizona State senior Anthony Robles, who only has one leg, took home his first national championship. The three-time All-American has had success on the mat his whole career, winning two individual Pac-10 Conference Championships. However, the senior had never won a national title and became a big media sensation when he reached his goal on the last try.
Unfortunately for Arizona State though, aside from the school’s two individual champions in Robles and Bubba Jenkins, the Sun Devils could not beat the Penn State Nittany Lions for the team championship.
Penn State was able to edge out Cornell, a team which had been ranked No. 1 for much of the season, for their first wrestling championship since 1953.
Led by sophomore All-American Quentin Wright’s individual national championship, the Nittany Lions overcame an injury to freshman Ed Ruth and an unexpected pin by former Penn State wrestler Bubba Jenkins on freshman standout David Taylor to take the crown.
The NCAA Skiing Championship, held in Stowe, Vt., this year, was dominated from beginning to end by the Colorado skiing team.
The Buffaloes won their sixth championship under coach Richard Rokos and their first since 2006. The team had placed in second the past three years.
Aside from finally breaking the pattern of second-place finishes, Colorado’s run to the championship was also special because they dedicated their season to Spencer Nelson, a skier on the team who passed away this summer. Rokos said Nelson would have played a key role in the Buffaloes’ season this year.
“For all of us [winning the championship] meant a lot because [Nelson] made a certain commitment at the beginning of the year,” Rokos said. “It was something we were planning. The fact we accomplished it was a very joyful moment.”
With Nelson on their mind, the team grabbed hold of the lead early and never relinquished it. Led by its nordic skiers, Colorado beat out Utah for first place by 80.5 points, the fifth largest margin of victory in championship history.
The Buffaloes’ alpiners also gave a strong performance, including senior Gabriel Rivas, who finished second in the slalom.
“Our goal on the alpine side was to finish all our rounds,” Rokos said. “Typically in alpine you don’t finish all your rounds. This year everybody finished. I think that was a big part of [our victory].”
Colorado has the second most successful skiing program all time, trailing only the University of Denver in championships.