Over spring break, athletes from two winter teams represented Elizabethtown College at the national level. Four male runners from the track team competed March 9 in the distance medley relay (DMR) at Grinnell College in Iowa. In addition, senior wrestlers Bill Meaney and Quint Eno finished in seventh and eighth place, respectively, at the NCAA Division III wrestling tournament in La Crosse, Wis. March 9-10.
Seniors Chris Niles, Mark Weber and Russell Speiden and sophomore Matt Rever comprised the DMR team that placed ninth at the NCAA Division III indoor track and field tournament with a time of 10:27.25. The DMR relay is composed of four legs: 400m, 800m, 1200m and 1600m. Originally Rever was to run the 800, but he replaced a sick team member, senior Aaron Focht, in the 1200. Weber, the alternate for the team, came in to run the 800.
According to Speiden, the changes to the line-up definitely affected the team’s performance. “[Weber] drove out as an alternate and found out he was racing a mere hour before the actual race,” Speiden said. “The combination of a 16-hour drive and the lack of mental preparation wasn’t ideal, but he had a decent race.”
Speiden also mentioned that Rever was extremely sick the week prior to the race. These complications heavily affected the team’s potential to place higher in the competition. “I came into the meet with the expectation to win,” Speiden said. “I think if nationals were a week earlier, before half our team got sick, we would have been in contention for the national title.”
While the DMR team was racing, Eno and Meaney were in the preliminary rounds of the NCAA tournament, competing in the 165 lb and 197 lb weight classes, respectively. Their performances and finishes entitled both wrestlers to All-American status, and Eno was also awarded as an Academic Scholar All-American. Eno and Meaney are the 15th and 16th All-American wrestlers in Blue Jay history.
“Heading into the tournament, I had extremely high expectations,” Meaney said. “I trained for the last two years to become an All-American and try to win a national title.”
On Friday, March 9, both Eno and Meaney fell to their competition once during the day. However, the two continued wrestling in this double-elimination tournament. Both progressed to the next day’s sessions.
“After Billy and I won our consolation matches Friday night,” Eno said, “there was a feeling of relief and a feeling of excitement. We did it; we were going to accomplish a goal we set out at the beginning of the season to do. We were going to be All-Americans and have a place on the podium; it was just a matter of how high.”
After the two won the Metropolitan Conference Championship for their weight class Feb. 26, Eno and Meaney had about two weeks of practice until nationals. Although only the two were training, they had enormous support from their fellow teammates and friends.
“Coach Bechtold drove over an hour multiple times to work on the little things that would make a huge impact on my performance,” Meaney said. “This commitment by my coach helped build my confidence and keep my wrestling sharp.”
Eno agreed with Meaney, attributing his success largely to his supporters. “Our achievements are as much ours as they are the friends, family, coaches and teammates that stood beside us, behind us and supported us from the beginning,” he said.