WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — University of Findlay junior Justin Welch is a national champion.
Welch captured the individual championship in the men’s weight throw to get the Oilers’ indoor track and field team off to a solid start at the NCAA Division II national championships Friday at JDL Fast Track.
Welch, the top-seed entering the event, earned his first indoor All-American award and won the school’s fourth indoor NCAA individual title overall.
The Eastwood High School product’s final toss of the day, a throw of 73-¾, vaulted him past Ashland junior Zac Ball, who had taken the lead from Welch with a heave of 70-8½ on his final attempt.
His performance was the beginning of a big day for the UF track teams on Friday.
The Oilers’ Dillon Webster earned All-American honors in one event and made the finals in another.
He teamed with Elmwood grad Kyle Smithey, Jacob Hayes and Justin Eilerman to finish fourth in the distance medley relay in 9:56.99.
Ashland won the race in 9:49.14.
Webster also cruised to Saturday’s 5 p.m. finals of the men’s 800-meter run by winning his heat in a time of 1:51.15. He posted the fastest qualifying time of the eight finalists in the event.
Findlay freshman Alexander Zolotoglavyy made his NCAA debut and finished 15th in the long jump (22-11¾).
The Oilers will be busy today as well.
Triple jumper Demorrio Leggett will kick the final day of the meet off for the UF men’s team by competing in his specialty at 2 p.m. Marcus Vicars will throw the shot at 2:05 p.m. in addition to Webster’s 800-meter race.
In the women’s meet, the Oilers’ Pam Showman will compete in the pentathlon beginning at 9 a.m., Kendra Averesch (Leipsic) will enter the shot put circle at 4:40 p.m. and the 1,600 relay team of Maud Sanmiquel, Adrianna Powell-Lawrence, Shelby Stump (Hardin Northern) and Kirsten Gaerke will run at 7 p.m.
Through five events, Adams State leads Ashland 29-23 in the men’s team standings. Findlay, the No. 8 team in the latest Division II coaches rankings, is in fifth place with 15 points.
Roughneck duo in semis
CLEVELAND — University of Findlay seniors Ben Sergent and Adam Walters didn’t disappoint on Friday.
The Roughneck duo both went 2-0 to reach the semifinals at the NCAA Division II national championships at Cleveland’s Public Hall.
Both wrestlers scored easy victories to advance.
Sergent (21-6) whipped Minnesota State-Moorhead’s Blake Bosch 10-4 in his opener before knocking off Ouchita Baptist’s Garrett Evans 9-2 in his 125-pound quarterfinal bout to assure himself All-American honors for the first time in his career.
The three-time NCAA qualifier will take on Gannon’s Matthew Turek (27-5) in today’s semifinal round.
Walters, a two-time All-American, stopped St. Cloud State’s Clayton Jenissen in his opening-round 174-pound bout. He cruised to an 11-4 victory over Mercyhurst’s August Mizia in the quarterfinals.
He will take a 32-3 record into his semifinal match against Western State’s Elliot Copeland (14-2).
The Rouchnecks’ Bradley Metz fell to West Liberty State’s Mike Emery 1-0 on a riding-time point in the first round at 165 pounds. He rebounded to blank Newberry’s Blake Ridenour 8-0 in the consolations before losing to Central Missouri’s Ty Loether 12-1.
UF’s other NCAA participant, Dalton Nicely, dropped an 18-5 major decision to Central Missouri’s Frank Cagnina and a 10-5 match to Cal Baptist’s Alex Anunciation in his two matches.
The semifinals and consolation quarterfinal round begins at 10 a.m. with the championship matches set for 7 p.m.
Swimmers miss finals
GENEVA — Three University of Findlay athletes just missed All-American honors on Friday’s third day of the NCAA Division II swimming and diving championships at Spire Institute.
Ashley Weddington was one spot away from a top-16 finish in the women’s 1-meter diving event as the UF junior ended up 17th with a score of 391.1. She finished 18th in the 3-meter event on Wednesday.
Sophomore Kaley Holmstrom posted a 19th-place finish in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:04.34 while teammate Jessica Ward, also a sophomore, was 20th in the 100 backstroke with a time of 56.92 seconds.
The duo will be back in action on the final day of the event. Jessica Ward will compete in the 200 back while Holmstrom will race in the 200 breast when today’s preliminary swims begin at 10:30 a.m.