One national championship would end the year on a high note. But four - in one weekend - culminated a fantastic year for Western Athletics.
The streak began on May 26 when senior Sarah Porter won the 10,000-meter race at the NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships. It was a sweet first-time national title for Porter, a senior studying Kinesiology-Sport Psychology, who has appeared at national meets a school record 12 times, four each in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track.
Porter's time of 33:17.39, the fourth-fastest in NCAA II history, broke her own school and conference records, and even broke meet and stadium records. Porter, who also holds school records in the 1,500, 3,000 and 5,000, recently signed with Reebok and ZAP Fitness and ran her first marathon in New York City, placing 22nd in the women's division.
Two days later at the same championship event Porter's teammates Ryan Brown ('11, Kinesiology-Pre-Healthcare Professions) and Monika Gruszecki ('11, English Literature, German) each won national titles. Brown's pole vault title was his fourth- he also won back-to-back indoor national titles in 2010 and '11. His winning height was 17-1 3/4 and he hopes to try for a spot on the 2012 Summer Olympic Team.
Gruszecki's javelin title was her second, after winning the national championship her freshman year. Her school-record toss of 163-6 was better than her previous best by more than 6 1/2 feet.
"You don't feel a thing when you hit it just right" says Gruszecki, who has dual citizenship and hopes to qualify for the Polish Olympic Team.
The next day, the weekend ended with a decisive victory by the women's rowing team, which brought home its seventh straight national title and continued the longest national title streak in any NCAA rowing division. For the first time in three years, both the four and eight shells won their grand finals, and by wide margins.
Western is now tied for the longest active string of NCAA II men's and women's national titles. Drury University in Missouri has also won seven straight national titles, in men's swimming and diving.