The Royals picked up a total of 12 All-ODAC honors, with either an individual or relay team finishing in a top-three spot.
The men’s 4x400m relay team of Connor Faint (Winchester, Va./Millbrook), Josh Bishop (Louisa, Va./Louisa County), Tyler Denlinger (Perkasie, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) and Hunter Sampson (Salem, Va./Salem) dominated the meet’s final race, taking first place with a time of 3:22.09. Sampson ran a smoking 48.73 on the final leg as the team was more than five seconds ahead of second place. The foursome missed the meet record by a mere 0.13.
Senior Alec Thibodeaux (Mount Sidney, Va./Fort Defiance) showed his fine return to form after an injury midway through the cross country season last fall, winning the 3000m and setting a meet record in the process. Thibodeaux was in firm control in claiming the gold in a time of 8:40.89, four seconds better than the meet record and nearly nine seconds ahead of the second-place finisher in the race. Jared Nisly (Lancaster, Pa./Lancaster Mennonite) grabbed the final point in the event, taking eighth with a PR time of 9:00.46.
Earlier in the day, Thibodeaux took third in the 5000m and broke his own EMU record. He made up time over the final laps and crossed the finish in 15:23.83, just better than his 2016 time of 15:25.53.
Denlinger started out in second in the 800m and never let go of the spot. He made up a little time on the winner, VWC’s Trey White, and took home the silver with a season-best time of 1:56.86, just 0.30 behind White.
He had the same late effort in the mile to earn a second All-ODAC Second Team spot. Denlinger ran a blazing final split of 30.79, nearly catching W&L’s Ian McDonald. Denlinger broke the school record in 4:19.08 (Thibodeaux – 4:19.13), while McDonald held on in 4:18.64. Both men broke the meet record of 4:19.21.
Isaac Bryan, Director of Cross Country and Track & Field, said his two All-ODAC seniors are going out with a great final season.
“Alec ran a fantastic race,” said Bryan. “It was great to see him come back and win the race after a hard effort in the 5k. Tyler had a full day and ran his best times of the season. I’m very happy with how he competed.”
The men’s 400m had a thrilling finish, with Eastern Mennonite claiming second and third place. Sampson earned All-ODAC Second Team honors by finishing runner-up in 50.26. Faint was just off his teammate’s back, taking third in 50.45.
Grant Amoateng (Bristow, Va./Patriot) set his PR in each of his events on Sunday, highlighted by a runner-up finish in the triple jump for All-ODAC Second Team status. He already had his PR with a jump of 13.65 on this third effort, then topped it to jump into second at 14.01m (45ft 11.75in). Then in the long jump, Amoateng cleared his previous best by a foot, taking third place with a distance of 6.87m (22ft 6.50in).
Nuriddin Abdus-Salaam (Charlotte Court House, Va./Randolph Henry) ran a 7.09 in the prelims of 60m, and maintained his spot in third in the finals, clocking at 7.10. The 7.09 was a PR for the sophomore, breaking his own EMU record, as he claimed All-ODAC Third Team honors.
The men put three athletes into the top eight in the 60m hurdles. Josh Wolfe (Quakertown, Pa./Dock Mennonite Academy) was second overall in the prelims with a time of 8.57 seconds, and settled back at fourth in the finals in 8.64. Austin Hart (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) took sixth in 8.70 while freshman Darious Stover (Fort Carson, Colo./Mesa Ridge) was eighth in 8.83.
The distance medley relay team of Abrham Amine (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg), Diego Avila-Tejada (Harrisonburg, Va./Harrisonburg), Robert Cook (Lexington, Va./Parry McCluer) and Nisly finished sixth in a time of 10:58.61.
The Royals racked up 89 points, claiming third place out of nine teams. EMU was eight points ahead of Lynchburg in fourth. The Hornets were ranked seventh in the most recent regional rankings.
The women had a few shining performances.
In the triple jump, junior Oksana Kittrell (Bedford, Va./Liberty) had a handful of her best collegiate jumps, including her PR of 10.98m (36ft 0.25in) to grab second for All-ODAC Second Team honors. In the long jump, Kittrell took fourth by hitting a big PR jump of 5.33m (17ft 6in). She broke Wendy Driver’s 2004 school record of 5.26m (17ft 3in).
Head Track & Field Coach Brian Simpson said his jumpers were at the top of their game.
“Grant and Oksana set the tone early by opening up with strong and consistent jumps throughout their performances,” he explained. “I and their jumps coach Michael Allen emphasized consistently running fast down the runway on each jump. Their speed, along with proper technique, placed them on the medal stand this year.”
Tajah Miller (Waynesboro, Va./Waynesboro) ran a 7.98 in the prelims and the finals of the 60m, taking fourth at the meet. The sophomore sets the new EMU record for the event.
Freshman Hannah Nichols (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor) earned a pair of fourth-place finishes. She broke her PR in the mile by nearly seven seconds, crossing the finish in 5:09.58. In the 800m, she fought back from a tough start to clock a time of 2:20.40. Nichols passed a pair of runners over the final 200m.
In the DMR, Emma Hoover (New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh), Abigail Shelly (Collinsville, Va./West Lauderdale), Elizabeth Reist (Lancaster, Pa./J.P. McCaskey) and Megan Good (Harrisonburg, Va./Eastern Mennonite) took sixth with a combined time of 14:17.18.
Rachel Sturm (Denton, Md./North Caroline) tied for eighth in the pole vault, clearing the height of 2.67m (8ft 9in).
The women totaled 31.5 points to finish seventh as a team.
“I am extremely happy with the overall performance of the team,” said Simpson. “The jumps, sprints, and hurdlers stepped up in a big way. We are in a great position as we transition into the outdoor season. Finishing third overall on the men’s side despite having a thin team gives me a lot to be proud of.”
Eastern Mennonite’s Tyler Denlinger repeats his award as ODAC/Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Scholar-Athlete. This is Denlinger’s fourth Scholar-Athlete award after winning it each of the past two indoor seasons, along with last spring’s outdoor season. He is now an eight-time All-ODAC honoree who holds a 3.97 GPA as a biology (pre-med) major.