Stadler wins national indoor track title
Chris Stadler admits that prior to the race, he was a bit nervous.
The Belmont High grad, gearing up for the 5,000-meter race, was competing against North Central College’s John Crain , who had a decidedly partisan crowd cheering him on at the NCAA Division 3 indoor track & field championships Saturday in Illinois.
But Stadler, a junior at Haverford College, overtook Crain at the final turn and won the distance event by 1.18 seconds. His national title was the first by Haverford at the indoor championships since 2002, when the Fords captured first in the distance medley relay.
He was not alone in making history.
Brookline’s Corey Thomas and Nick Staley of Medway also earned All-American honors representing Stonehill College at the Division 2 national championship meet at the CrossPlex Complex in Birmingham, Ala.
Thomas leaped to a third-place finish high jump (6 feet, 11.75 inches) and placed eighth in the 60-meter high hurdles (8.09 seconds). Staley, his former teammate at Boston College High School, placed fifth in the high jump (6 feet,10.75 inches).
It was the first time in program history that two student-athletes have earned All-American honors in the same event at the same championship.
Thomas, a senior captain, has won multiple All-America high jump honors (he placed first indoors as a sophomore). He posted a personal best 7 feet, 3.25 inches this winter season.
Staley, a sophomore who cracked the 7-foot mark by 0.25 inches this season, is a first-time All-American. Not since 1985 has a New England college boasted two 7-foot high jumpers at any NCAA level.
Stadler, who also earned All-American honors last fall with his 12th place finish at cross-country nationals, accomplished his feat in front of a crowd determined to see North Central capture the program’s third straight 5,000-meter title.
“I was a little nervous before the race,’’ he said, “but I got more into focus and more relaxed after it started. The field started to separate and I just wanted to keep pace.’’
With his father, John, cheering him on, Stadler had a few brief moments of doubt before he caught and passed Crain and then applied his trademark finishing kick as he took the inside lane and finished in 14 minutes, 27.24 seconds, close to his personal best.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,’’ he said on Sunday. “But it’s pretty emotional and a great honor to be listed among the All-Americans and to be in the company of some great runners at Haverford.’’
Haverford head coach Tom Donnelly and Stonehill counterpart Karen Boen were justifiably proud.
“Chris was running on the track named for North Central’s legendary distance coach, Al Carius, who was in attendance,’’ said Donnelly. “So he had even more pressure on him and he responded.’’
Boen said Thomas and Staley have been key to the program’s growing national reputation and its first-ever Northeast-10 indoor championship.
“They train together and work so hard and they always root for the other to be successful,’’ said Boen.
“To come home with three All-American honors in three tries, well, we’ll take it.’’
Thomas and Staley were perennial Division 1 high jump qualifiers champions at BC High, where they first competed in the event. His senior year, 2009, Thomas was a defensive back on BC High’s Super Bowl-winning squad and a star on the school’s first indoor state track championship team in 42 years.
“So it’s cool to also be a part of our first Northeast-10 indoor championship team,’’ said Thomas, who concurs with Staley that they are so familiar with one another’s high jump technique that they can freely offer advice.
“In a way, he’s like a younger brother to me, and we spend so much time practicing and traveling that we sometimes argue where we’re going out to eat. It’s pretty funny at times, but it’s also been great to see his progress in high school and here at Stonehill.’’
Thomas, a criminal justice major who interns with the Brockton Police Department, said he’s proud of their performances in Birmingham.
“I wish one of us had won, but you can’t be first every time and what’s more important is what you do for the program.’’
Staley said he looked forward to reuniting with Thomas.
“He definitely put Stonehill on my radar,’’ said Staley, “Last weekend was an experience you never forget, standing on the podium as an All-American and that just makes you want to do it again in the spring.’’
Also at the Division 3 meet, a pair of seniors, Sarah O’Brien (Wellesley) and Juliet Ryan-Davis (Newton South) earned All-American honors after helping Middlebury’s distance medley relay squad place second overall behind University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Wheelock College senior Bashir Hudson of Jamaica Plain, who attended Weston High, was named to the New England Collegiate Conference first team for men’s basketball.
“Bashir represents the best of what college basketball is all about,” said Wheelock head coach Matt LeVangie.
“He is the consummate leader both on the court and in the classroom.’’
The 6-foot-1 Hudson, holder of several career and single-season school records, had a monster year: He averaged 20.1 points per game to rank 30th in Division 3 and his 11 rebounds per game ranked 12th. The tricaptain also shattered the school’s single-game scoring record with 37 points on 15-for-24 shooting and added 11 rebounds, three assists, and a steal vs. Elms College on Feb. 11.
Arlington’s Sean Boyle and Needham’s Paul Vergara were selected Commonwealth Coast Conference Pitcher and Rookie of the Week, respectively. Boyle, a junior, tossed a two-hit shutout (4-0) for Roger Williams University against Keene State. His three career shutouts tied a school record. Vergara, a pitcher for Wentworth Institute, had a one-hit shutout (3-0) in his college debut vs. Cazenovia.. . . Former Hopkinton High team MVP Kelly Sanborn, a junior third baseman, has been named a cocaptain for the Bentley University softball team. She has started 78 games in her first two seasons.