By: Andrew Knauff
Publication: Marietta College Office of Sports Information/Special to the Marietta Times
In what has been one of the most successful athletic seasons in Marietta College history, three Pioneer teams are poised to make its mark on the big stage.
For the first time ever, Marietta will have three teams competing for NCAA championships at the same time starting with track & field on Thursday and moving into Friday with baseball and women’s rowing.
While the Etta Express have made themselves a staple on the national scene with their 22 Mideast Regional Championships, it’s Marietta’s track & field and women’s rowing teams who have refused to be left behind.
Track & Field will send four athletes to the championships in Claremont, Calif. Ashley Bault will be making her second appearance on the national scene after finishing sixth in the heptathalon as a junior. Bault is seeded third in the heptathlon at this year’s championships.
“I’m not going to go out and chase numbers. In the heptathlon you have to take it event by event,” Bault said. “I think I have the potential to do something special if thins go my way.”
Sophomore Ryan Lopez-Jordan, who will be competing in the 110-meter hurdles, will be attempting to top his season best performace of 14.52. Lopez is seeded 10th and is the highest seeded Marietta male athlete.
After qualifying for the national championships in cross country his sophomore and junior year, Caleb Muller will be making his first appearance at the track & field national championships. With a 10K qualifying time of 30:16, Muller looks forward to the high level of competition.
“I’m really looking forward to running against the best in Division III,” Muller said. “I really want to show that I can compete on that level.”
Rounding out the track & field athletes is junior thrower Gaston Hayes. Hayes is also making his first national appearance. Hayes, a petroleum engineering major, will be trying to improve his personal-best discuss throw of 51.52m.
“What I think is really exciting is that we’re sending people from a variety of events. A lot of schools specialize in a certain events, but our recent success promotes a strong, complete, team.” Marietta College head track & field coach George Evan said.
After winning the Mid-Atlantic Rowing Conference, the No. 7-ranked women’s rowing team earned a bid to the NCAA Championships. While members of the women’s rowing program have gone to nationals before, this is the first time the pioneers will be vying for a national team title.
“We’re just really excited to be among the best of the best,” Marietta College head women’s rowing coach Kelly Harris said. “It’s a testament to our depth and the development of our program.”
The team competition is divided into two separate eight-person shell races. Rowing in the first baot is coxswain Megan Oxley, stroke Abigail Klicker, Haley Ellis, Kelli Barnette, April Pendergrass, Ricci Davis, Trisha Wendel, Bridget Dean, and Alyse McNeill in the box seat.
The second varsity eight consists of coxswain Laura Sterzinger, stroke Taryn Wilson, Alycia Kime, Stephanie Meinert, Shannon Johnston, Erika Gill, Kely Moses, Katherine Tedesco, and Hannah Platt in the bow seat.
“One of our goals all season was to get to the grand final,” Harris said. “That would prove that we’re one of the top six crews in the country.”
The women will head to West Windsor, N.J., as they look to unseat six-time defending national champion Williams College.
“The excitement is definitely building,” said senior Killi Barnette. “We have been consistently dropping our splits and fine-tuning some technical issues. We are in the best position we possibly could be to do well this weekend.”
The Etta Express will look to bring home their sixth national title, as well as defend their 2011 national championship, when they travel to Grande Chute, Wis. Marietta is scheduled to face Whitworth at 8:45 p.m.(EST) today in the double-elimination tournament at Fox Cities Stadium.
After an impressive, backs-against-the-wall, performance in the Mideast-Regional, the Etta Express hopes to carry that momentum into the Series.
“I think it’s important to not that although the momentum will help us, we have to focus on each game at hand and stay in the moment to play our best baseball,” Marietta College junior catcher Alex Toth said.
“Marietta will be welcoming the target on their back as they look to add to the national championship banners flying above Don Schaly Stadium.
“Winning back-to-back national championships has never happened to this historic program,” Toth said. “I think that it would be a testament to all the hard work and preparation that goes into every year, as well as the great group of guys that make up our team.”