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North Central’s Johnny Crain, Elmhurst’s Ryan Prater reign as D-III national champions

NCAA DivisiIII 2014 Indoor Track   Field Championships Friday March 14 Lincoln Neb.

at the NCAA Division III 2014 Indoor Track & Field Championships Friday, March 14 in Lincoln, Neb.

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It’s final exam time for athletes in winter sports, and North Central distance runner Johnny Crain and Elmhurst wrestler Ryan Prater have come in at the top of the class.

Crain swept the distance events at the NCAA Division III indoor track and field meet in Lincoln, Neb., first cruising to victory at 5,000 meters on Friday, then pulling ahead to win the 3,000 on Saturday.

Prater also came home with a championship, winning the 149-pound class at the Division III wrestling meet Friday and Saturday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Crain, who was a national champion at 10,000 meters in last year’s outdoor nationals, won the 5,000 in 14:06.73, a 13-second margin over runner-up Ryan Steinbock of Dickinson. In the 3,000, run at nationals for the first time, Crain pulled away from Grant Wintheiser of St. Olaf in the last 100 meters. Crain’s 8:10.40 finish was 1.43 seconds ahead of Wintheiser.

As a team, the Cardinals scored 21 points, good for seventh place in a meet won by Wisconsin-La Crosse with 63.5.

“In the 3,000, I was feeling the race from the day before,” Crain said. “I was feeling really tired, so it wasn’t until the last 200 to 100 meters that I was able to pull away just a little bit.”

Prater (19-0), also a senior, rolled into the wrestling finals in style, pinning third-seeded Mark Hartenstine of Wilkes in the semifinals. In the championship bout, he won 4-2 over top-seeded 149-pounder Bobby Dierna of SUNY Cortland.

Elmhurst tied for 17th with 22.5 points in a meet won by Wartburg.

Two Wheaton wrestlers earned All-America honors, with Mark Savenok (157 pounds) and Stephen Aiello (165) both finishing seventh.

On the court

CCIW tournament champion Wheaton (21-9) finished its men’s basketball season in the NCAA Division III final 16 on Friday, losing 81-71 to Dickinson in Bloomington, Ill. Tyler Peters, named Midwest region player of the year by and the National Association of Basketball Coaches, scored 26 points and had eight rebounds in the loss.

Illinois Wesleyan (27-4), the CCIW regular-season champ, advanced to the Final Four, beating Calvin 76-64 on Friday, then taking care of Dickinson 79-66 on Saturday. The Titans meet Wisconsin-Whitewater in a national semifinal game Friday in Salem, Va.

In NAIA Division II, the same team ended the seasons for CCAC powers St. Xavier (30-5) and Robert Morris (26-10). St. Xavier dropped a 64-61 decision to Midland in the round of 16 on Friday in Point Lookout, Mo. Robert Morris reached the Final Four, winning a 79-78 quarterfinal thriller over William Penn on Monday behind Jarrell Turner’s 18 points and 16 rebounds. But on Tuesday, the Eagles took a 100-61 thrashing from Midland, which then lost 78-68 to Indiana Wesleyan for the title.

In the NAIA Division II women’s tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, Olivet Nazarene and Purdue-Calumet both were eliminated in the second round.

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