FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Mansfield to Send Four Athletes to National Championships
RELEASE DATE: 3/11/2008
MANSFIELD, Pa. -- Four members of the Mansfield University track and field team will represent the Mountaineers at the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Mankato, Minn. next weekend, as announced on Wednesday when the official acceptance lists were released.
For the first time in Mansfield history, a relay squad has earned a berth in the National Championships. The PSAC Champion and school record-setting distance medley relay team of Dave Sanford, Bryan Falcone, Victor Garcia and Chris Cummings posted the seventh-fastest qualifying time in the nation en route to earning the trip to Minnesota.
“It’s a great feeling to take this team to the National Championships,” said head coach Michael Rohl. “Having a DMR at the NCAA meet is one of the most prestigious and most difficult accomplishments for any team based on mid-distance strength. I can’t think of a more deserving or harder working group of guys than these four individuals.”
Last weekend, the distance medley team became the first men’s relay team from Mansfield to ever win a PSAC Championship, while seniors Dave Sanford and Chris Cummings both won individual conference titles, the only two men in Mountie history to do so.
Cummings will be busy while in Minnesota, as the senior will also run individually in the mile. In 2006, Cummings became the only Mountaineer to earn All-America honors during the indoor season when he took home the honor in the mile. After sitting out last season, the Mansfield native will look to repeat as an All-American in the mile. He enters the meet with the seventh-best time in the country.
While focusing on his individual goals in the mile, Cummings will also race the mile leg of the DMR in hopes of earning All-America honors for the squad.
“Chris is a special athlete,” adds Rohl. “There aren’t a lot of runners in the country that can do the things he does. Having him here this year gave us the opportunity to get three more athletes into the National Championships.”
Sanford has turned heads at Mansfield since transferring into the program at the beginning of last season. He became the second individual in Mansfield history to win a conference title when he won the 800-meter run last weekend at the PSAC Championships. Sanford will run the 1,200-meter leg of the relay.
“Dave has been incredible for us,” says Rohl. “He came into the program and immediately started improving. He’s become one of the best mid-distance runners in Mansfield history in the two years he spent here.”
Falcone, a junior on the team, will run the 400-meter leg of the relay. In his three years at Mansfield, Falcone has become the leader of the sprints group and has improved steadily on the track throughout his career.
“Bryan has come a long way for us,” says Rohl. “He has battled injuries throughout his career and keeps coming back stronger for us. He’s becoming a true leader for our sprinters.”
Garcia, a junior transfer, will run the 800-meter leg of the relay. Garcia entered the program this year and immediately gave the Mountaineers a spark at the mid-distance events. He posted the third-best 800-meter time in Mansfield history (only Sanford and Cummings have run faster) in his first year with the Mounties.
“Vic has really been outstanding for us this season,” said Rohl. “We knew he was fast when he came in and he has held up to that all year. We needed that one extra spark in the mid-distance group to push this relay over the top and he provided that.”
Rohl is no stranger to the National Championship meet. In the last five years, five Mansfield athletes have earned berths into the NCAA indoor or outdoor meet. Under Rohl, Mansfield has seen its first two All-America performers in the likes of Cummings (indoor and outdoor) and Jeremy Confer (outdoor, javelin).
The NCAA Division II National Championships will be held at Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn. next weekend. Competition will begin on Friday, March 14 and continue through Sunday, March 16.