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North Central pole vaulter Josh Winder caps injury comeback with Division III title

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Updated: July 2, 2013 7:11AM

When North Central’s Josh Winder claimed the pole-vault title at the NCAA Division III men’s outdoor track-and-field
championships at Wisconsin-
La Crosse, he knew a whole crew had gone into the achievement.

There’s his brother Jake, who preceded him as a pole-vault champion for the Cardinals, winning both indoors and outdoors in 2010. There’s his dad, Tim, who coaches vaulters as an assistant on coach Frank Gramarosso’s staff. And there’s a whole medical team that helped him come back after a severe shoulder injury in the first meet of his senior high school season at Plainfield Central threatened to make him a former vaulter.

‘‘I tore my labrum and had a really pretty intense reconstructive surgery,’’ said Winder, who vaulted 16 feet,
43/4 inches on the first day of the three-day meet last week, helping North Central to a fifth-place finish. ‘‘That changed my life. I didn’t really know how to react to it.’’

There was a 21/2-year fight to come back, starting with finding a surgeon who thought a comeback was possible.

‘‘I was told by a couple of surgeons I was never going to pole-vault again. Finally, Dr. [Marc] Asselmeier out of DuPage Medical Group told me he could do it,’’ said Winder, who also credited physical therapists Pat Chapman at SRI Physical Therapy and Mark Turner, the owner and a chiropractor at Turner Pain and Wellness. ‘‘Two-and-a-half years of battling and therapy later, I won the indoor championship [in 2012]. And now I’ve won the outdoor championship. I’m blessed beyond what words can describe.’’

Winder was one of two national champions for the Cardinals, who rolled up 36 points, 30 behind team champion Wisconsin-
La Crosse. John Crain won
North Central’s other title, taking the 5,000-meter run in 14 minutes, 25.84 seconds. Crain finished second in the 10,000 meters.

North Central had one more national runner-up, with Zach Heerspink clearing 6-101/4 in the high jump.

In the women’s meet, Ebony Stallworth finished fourth in the shot put at 46-4, and Lina Baker, who was seeded 21st among 22 competitors in the hammer throw, came through with a 173-foot heave to finish seventh. They became North Central’s first women’s
All-Americans in their events.

Soft landing

Saint Xavier (50-9) had its dream season end in its third game at the NAIA softball championships in Columbus, Ga. The Cougars opened with a loss Friday to Reinhardt, then came back to beat Cal State-San Marcos on Saturday. Nicole Nonnemacher went the distance for the victory.

Lubbock Christian eliminated the Saints 4-2 on Sunday. Nonnemacher (24-5) had the Texas school shut out through five innings before the Chapparals broke through with a four-run sixth.

Saint Xavier set a school record for victories and won the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament titles.

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