Wayne State track stars shine in championship

DaQuan Samuel, Staff Writer

Senior Michaela Dendinger and junior Robert Sullivan represented Wayne State College in the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Pittsburg State in Kansas last Friday and Saturday.

Dendinger qualified in the women’s shot put and weight throw while Sullivan competed in the men’s heptathlon.

Dendinger entered the National Championship meet Friday with the second-best weight throw distance in Division II during the regular season. In preliminary throws, the graduate of Hartington Public High School (Coleridge) had her best throw on her first attempt with a throw of 19.84m and qualified for the finals with the second-best throw.

Dendinger’s first throw in finals produced a new school record as she recorded a mark of 20.42m to eclipse her own school record of 19.99m set two weeks ago at the NSIC Indoor Championships in Mankato. She fell short of first place by .37m as Destiny Coward of Southern Connecticut State won the event with a throw of 20.79m.

“My favorite thing was watching the meet it’s exciting to watch athletes all across the nation compete and put everything on the line,” said Dendinger. “It’s quite the accomplishment this is my first time placing at indoor nationals, so it’s pretty exciting.”

On Saturday, Dendinger took second place in the shot put event. Her best throw of the night came on her first throw in prelims with a mark of 16.19m, just .07m behind the first place mark of 16.26m set by Sunflower Greene of Millersville University of Pennsylvania.

Dendinger earned First Team All-American honors and scored 16 points for the Wildcats at the national meet. Wayne State’s 16 points was good for a 16th place finish out of the 59 teams that scored and the 83 teams that qualified.

Dendinger was also named Central Region Women’s Field Athlete of the Year by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Dendinger is the third Wildcat thrower in the last six years to receive the USTFCCCA Central Region Women’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, joining Carly Fehringer in 2013 and Sara Wells in 2014 as other Wildcat recipients.

“I give all that credit to Coach Brett he sets everything up perfectly so I can peak when I need to,” said Dendinger. “I was surprised to win athlete of the year, there were some amazing athletes in the region and I’m honored I was voted to receive the award.”

On the first day of the men’s heptathlon in the first four events, Sullivan tied for third in the high jump clearing 2.01m. He finished seventh in the shot put with 12.29m, 12th in the long jump 6.77m and 13th in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.35 seconds, placing Sullivan in ninth place heading into the second day, with only the 60-meter hurdles, pole vault and 1,000-meter run left to compete in.

The second day of competition, Sullivan got off to a bad start, as he hit the first hurdle in the 60-meter hurdles and fell to be disqualified, leaving him with 0 points in the event. He would then finish 11th in the pole vault clearing 3.80m and was 12th in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 3:18.21 to close out the competition. Sullivan finished 12th in the seven-event competition, earning him Second Team All-American honors from