The North Central College men’s track and field team is focused on the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships, after a rough day at the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Outdoor Championships.
“We lost the conference championship by the score, but we competed really well and we were actually winners that day,” says Coach Frank Gramarosso. “We had a fall in the 4×400; [Josh Martin] broke his elbow so we didn’t score any points in that event so we lost by three and a half points. But we were winning the meet after coming back from a 34-point deficit and we had a great championship.”
Martin was filling in for Ben Nordman for 4×400 relay, but he collided with another runner mid-race, causing him to fall and break his elbow.
“That was very unfortunate, Josh definitely showed a lot of potential,” says Daniel Spaccapaniccia. “He wasn’t originally in our 4×4, but he was someone who could have been. We gave him an opportunity to run that race and he was looking really [good], but he fell and got hurt.”
Despite the setback, the Cardinals are still confident. “We have an idea called quiet confidence where you respect yourself, your teammates, and your opponents,” says Zach Kirby. “At a national meet, everyone’s good and we need to be respectful of that and display quiet confidence; we know our training got us there and we have to rely on that.”
As far as preparation goes, nothing will change for the Cardinals. “We try to stay in the process of training and competing and not worrying about your performance, but the performances will come if you do the right things day-in and day-out,” says Coach Frank Gramarosso.
North Central’s team is currently ranked No.1, nationally by the United States Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, but that doesn’t mean much to them. “The rankings don’t really mean much,” says Kirby. “It all comes down to performance and competition at the end of the day.”
Athletes competing in nationals are: Aron Sebhat for the 800; Tim Vazquez and Zach Plank in the 5,000m; Peyton Piron for the 400m hurdles; Ethan Adlfinger, Ken Hoffman, and Dan O’Keefe for the Steeplechase; Daniel Spaccapaniccia, Ben Nordman, Zach Kirby, and Piron for the 4x400m relay; and Luke Winder, Dylan Kuipers, and Spencer LaHaye for Pole Vault.
The Cardinals are comfortable with the number of athletes they will likely send to the national meet, but they would like to send as many as possible.
“We need more bullets in the gun; more soldiers on the ground,” says Kirby. “Getting more people there gives us the opportunity to score more points.”
Bringing home the championship would be great, but as always the Cardinals want to go out and perform to their best ability. “Hopefully as a team we can bring home that national title, but the main goal would be to go out there and compete and have no regrets,” says Spaccapaniccia.