News Photo
Men's Indoor Track & Field - Fri, Feb. 24, 2017

The St. Ambrose men proved they're a force to be reckoned with in the Chicagoland Athletic Conference after narrowly missing out on the team's first conference championship.

The Bees finished third in the CCAC, finishing just 21 points behind conference champion St. Francis and just two points behind the CCAC-dominating Olivet Nazarene University in the first-ever indoor championships. SAU finished 119 points ahead of fourth place Cardinal Stritch in the 10-team meet.

Thanks to eight conference champion performances and six national qualifying marks, the Bees nearly pulled off the massive upset in a conference with four teams ranked in the top 15 in the NAIA.

Cole Connell (SO/Delmar, Iowa) was named CCAC Field Athlete of the Year after the sophomore won the heptathlon with an NAIA qualifying point total. He also won the high jump, took all-CCAC honors in pole vault and 60m hurdles, and also scored in the long jump. Matt Svoboda (JR/Peoria, Ill.) added to the Bees haul with an all-CCAC, third place finish in the heptathlon.

Michael Ohioze (SR/London, England) also scored more than 30 points, thanks to his three conference crowns. The 6-time All-American took home the title in the 200m and 400m dashes and won the long jump in his first competition of the year. He also scored points for the Bees in the 60m dash and triple jump. The senior's times in the 60m and 200m dashes were school records.

In the hurdles, sophomore Jack Reemtsma (SO/Davenport, Iowa) took home the title with an NAIA national qualifying time, and also finished runner-up to Ohioze in the 400m dash.

In all, Ohioze (38), Connell (37) and Reemtsma (25) combined to score more than half of the Bees total of 193 points.

Rane Nichols (JR) pulled off a big upset for SAU when he sprinted to the conference championship at 600m with an NAIA nationals qualifying time. The junior transfer came into the meet ranked sixth in the event.

NAIA National Champion Anthony Peters (JR/Bartlett, Ill.) cemented his place in CCAC history by winning the inaugural 3,000m Race Walk with the top time in the NAIA this year. He led an SAU sweep of the Race Walk podium with Emilio Mancha (JR/Elgin, Ill.) and Casey Gerczak (SO/Rockford, Ill.) finishing silver and bronze. Mancha's time was also a top 10 NAIA time this season.

In all, 15 Bees earned all-CCAC honors. Skylar Mitchell (JR/Dixon, Ill.) ran a personal best to secure a podium spot in the 5,000m run, while Matt Ferris (SR/Crystal Lake, Ill.), Jonah Kuntz (SR/Solon, Iowa) and Denni's Fontenot (SO/Riverview, Fla.) teamed with Nichols to take runner-up honors in the 4x400m relay. On the first day of the competition, the 4x800 relay of Alex Bala (JR/Batavia, Ill.), Clay Colborn (FR/Pecatonica, Ill.) and Jonah Niedermeier (SR/Rockford, Ill.) ran with Nichols and finished third.

"We're more prepared than we ever have been before to go to the national meet," SAU head coach Dan Tomlin said. "We competed against some of the best athletes in the NAIA in our conference and went toe to toe with them. We can compete with anyone and our men have that confidence right now."

Heading into the meet's penultimate event, only six points separated the top three schools.

"We're clearly headed in the right direction," Tomlin said. "Hard work, determination and commitment are the foundation of our program and our seniors have done one heck of a job helping us build this team to be great today and in the future."

The Bees will next take to the track at the NAIA Indoor Track & Field National Championships on March 2-4 in Johnson City, TN.