GENEVA, Ohio — Led by Seth Nonnenmacher's national championship in the javelin and Jacoby Wolfe's runner-up showing in the high jump, the George Fox men's track and field team placed a program-best seventh place at the NCAA Division III national championships Saturday at the Spire Institute.
Thanks in large part to Nonnenmacher's 10 points on the opening day May 25 and Wolfe's eight points Friday, the Bruins led the men's competition with 23 points after the first two days of competition. George Fox did not, however, have any athletes competing Saturday and slid into a tie for seventh place with Rowan, as Wisconsin-La Crosse edged Wisconsin-Whitewater 47-45 for the national championship.
Caleb Dalzell added a fourth-place finish in the discus to give the Bruin men three All-Americans, while Annie Wright was one of three George Fox women to earn All-American status en route to a tie for 17th place as a team with 14 points.
"Our men put together a great meet and pulled off a top-10 finish, which is what our goal was coming in," GFU coach John Smith. "We will hope to qualify even more athletes next year and come back to challenge for a team top five. The future looks bright with only one of this year's qualifiers graduating."
Nonnenmacher entered the meet with the second best throw in the nation at 226-9, trailing only conference rival Andrew Bloom of Whitworth, but had to scramble after falling to fourth place prior to his fifth throw.
The junior responded by taking the lead with a throw of 224-0, then topped it off by clearing 227-1 on his sixth and final attempt to not only break his own personal and school records, but set a new Spire Institute Stadium record as well.
"It wasn't his easiest day of throwing, but coach Gabe Haberly kept his head in the game and Seth launched a couple throws in rounds five and six that nobody else was able to touch," Smith said. "Nobody has worked harder and we couldn't be more proud of Seth."
Nonnenmacher has now earned All-American honors for the third consecutive year and continued a back-and-forth pattern with Bloom. A year ago, Nonnenmacher won the Northwest Conference title before Bloom went on to win the national title. This year, the order was reversed, with Bloom claiming the league crown but placing third at nationals (217-10).
Dalzell gave the Bruin men a big boost on the first day of competition with a surprising finish in the discus. Dalzell was not seeded to make the finals with his runner-up mark of 149-6 from the league meet, but uncorked a throw of 161-5 to place fourth.
"He performed well above expectation and he is going to be back next year to chase the national title," Smith said.
Wolfe was seeded second entering the high jump competition Friday, but stepped up his game as well, clearing 6-11.75 to add an inch to his personal-best.
That jump locked up second place, so when Worcester State's Justin Lewis successfully jumped 7-1 on his second attempt, Wolfe passed on his final attempt at that height, instead opting for one shot at 7-2.25. When he didn't clear that, Lewis secured the title.
"It was a battle down to the wire and super exciting, but the other jumper just had a better day in the end and got the 7-1 clearance," Smith said. "So much work and preparation went into this year and Jacoby will no doubt be back to chase the title next year."
Also competing for the Bruins were Alex Canchola and John Koch, who placed 17th (5,571) and 18th (5,488) in the decathlon, respectively, and Chris Polk, who finished 13th in the 400 (48.97).
Asia Greene got the GFU women off and running May 25 while at the same time wrapping up her stellar career with a fourth-place finish in the long jump (19-0.5). It was her third consecutive outdoor All-American honor and her sixth overall.
"I know she wanted more than that, but at the end of the day, she is one of the most decorated athletes and record holders in George Fox history, and she will be greatly missed," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Wright racked up 2,800 points through four events of the heptathlon, then moved up to second with a fifth-place showing (17-5.5) in the long jump in the first event Friday. Wright added a sixth-place finish in the javelin (121-1) and finished the 800 in 2:27.64 to hold on to second with new personal-record of 4,779 points.
"She has put in so much work to get to that spot and it was awesome to watch it all unfold," Smith said. "The next two years she has a target lock on a national championship."
Sarah King wrapped things up for George Fox with an eighth-place showing in the 400 hurdles (1:01.78), with Dakota Buhler finishing 16th in the triple jump (37-1).
King's single team point helped the Bruins finish in a tie with Wisconsin-Platteville and Wartburg at 14 points. Washington University cruised to the team title with 56 points, which was 19 more than runner-up Ithaca.