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Elizabethtown College Men's Track and Field
Elizabethtown Places 13th at NCAA Division III Indoor Championships; Kevin Clark Wins Pole Vault, Becomes First Individual National Champion from Etown in 25 Years; Drew Graybeal Places Fifth, Earns All-America Status in 800m; Patrick Donovan Finishes 10th in Nation in Mile
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. --- For the first time in a quarter of a century, there is an NCAA Division III individual champion from Elizabethtown College. Elizabethtown junior Kevin Clark (Horsham, PA/Hatboro-Horsham) won the pole vault competition at the 2007 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships in Terre Haute, Ind. Saturday afternoon to become the first Blue Jay individual national champion in any sport since 1982 and the first ever for the Etown track & field program. As a team, the Elizabethtown men finished 13th out of 57 scoring teams with a total of 14 points, marking the second year in a row that Elizabethtown has finished among the top 15 in the nation in the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships. Making the feat even more remarkable is the fact that Elizabethtown College does not have an indoor track on its campus. Both Clark and fellow junior Drew Graybeal (Woodbine, MD/Glenelg) earned All-America honors by placing in the top eight in their respective events at the meet. Graybeal finished fifth in the 800m. Additionally, senior Patrick Donovan (South Pasadena, CA/St. Francis) finished tenth in the nation in the mile run.
Clark won the pole vault in dramatic fashion, clearing the meet’s maximum height of 17’1-1/2” on his third and final attempt to win the national title. He and second place finisher Matt Novak of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse each cleared the previous height of 16’9-1/2” on their second attempts. However, had Clark not cleared the next height, Novak would have won the title, because he had cleared the earlier 16’5-1/2” mark in two attempts, while Clark took three attempts to clear 16’5-1/2.”
Clark’s winning height of 17’1-1/2” was also a new personal and Elizabethtown program record by 2-3/4 inches, and it was the first time he had ever reached 17’ or better in competition. It is the third time in his career that he has earned All-America status in the pole vault, having also achieved the feat in the 2006 indoor and outdoor seasons.
Clark’s national title is only the fifth individual national championship ever won by Elizabethtown College athletes. Eric Mast won two individual NCAA Division III national titles for Elizabethtown at 118 pounds in wrestling in 1974 and in 1977. Beckie Donecker and Jen Haifley won an AIAW national championship in women’s tennis doubles competition in 1981, and Donecker won an NCAA Division III national championship in women’s tennis singles competition in 1982, the most recent Etown individual national title. In recent years, members of the men’s and women’s track & field teams had come close to winning individual national championships on several occasions, racking up five national runner-up finishes since 2004, with the most recent being Clark’s runner-up finish in the pole vault at the 2006 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
In the 800m, Graybeal placed fifth in the nation with a final time of 1:54.68 to earn All-America status for the second time in his career. He had also been an All-American as part of Elizabethtown’s distance medley relay team at the 2006 NCAA Indoor Championships.
Saturday’s 800m final was a close race. National champion Jimmy O’Brien of Ohio Northern University edged out runner-up Geoff Lambert of Wabash College by just 0.36 second, and Graybeal, in fifth place, was just 1.20 seconds off Obrien’s winning pace and 0.01 second behind fourth-place finishing Brian Sames of the University of St. Thomas (Minn.).
In Saturday’s final of the mile run, Donovan finished 10th in a time of 4:17.50, missing All-America status by just over four seconds. He had also been an All-American in the 2006 indoor distance medley relay, as well as in the 800m at the 2005 NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships. Donovan entered the 2007 Indoor Championships seeded 12th in the mile, and he qualified for Saturday’s finals by running a personal best time of 4:13.77 in Friday’s preliminaries. Will Leer of Pomona-Pitzer won the 2007 individual title in the mile with a time of 4:08.19.
With another indoor season completed, Elizabethtown will now shift to the outdoor season. The Blue Jays’ first meet of the 2007 outdoor track & field season will be the Susquehanna University Jim Taylor Invitational Saturday, March 31.
At Terre Haute, Ind.