Once junior Eli Horton grabbed the baton, there was little doubt that Central College was on its way to the school’s 32nd individual NCAA Division III championship.
Competing in the men’s indoor track and field finals in Lincoln, Neb., Horton was anchoring Central’s distance medley relay team, joined by senior Austin O’Brien, sophomore Spencer Hammack and junior Drew Jackson. Horton began the 1,600-meter leg a few steps behind, immediately grabbed the lead and wouldn’t let go as the Dutch won by a wide margin and set an NCAA meet record of 9 minutes, 54.8 seconds. That’s nearly 5 seconds better than the old mark and easily surpassed the previous school record as well.
“It was an incredible effort,” coach Joe Dunham said.
Horton came back to place third in the 3,000-meter run the following day while O’Brien was eighth and sophomore transfer Abi Davis was second in the women’s 60-meter dash, as they each received all-America honors. The Dutch women were 23rd in the team standings.
Central finished 10th in the national team standings, despite being without junior Eric Larson, the 2012 national pentathlon champ who was sidelined by injury.
Horton earlier was named Iowa Conference MVP, capturing the mile, 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters. But without Larson, the Dutch were 18.5 points out of first place, taking second. The Central women were fifth overall.