Esther Erb became the first Case Western Reserve track and field athlete to claim a national title since 1995 when she won the 10,000-meter run [35:45.01] at the 2008 NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships last weekend in Oshkosh, Wisc.
Erb, who graduated May 18 with a degree in music and cognitive science, single-handedly led the Spartan women's track and field team to a 20th place finish [three-way tie]. She followed her Thursday championship performance up with a sixth place finish [16:58.57] in the 5,000-meter run on Saturday. The two [10,000 and 5,000] All-America accolades were her fifth and sixth, respectively, as a Spartan.
"It still hasn't hit me -- even five days later -- that I actual did it," Erb said. "I couldn't have asked for a better finish to my collegiate career. If I would have won one [national championship] my junior year and not repeated, it would have been different. This was the best outcome possible."
In 1995, Leslie Kindling won the women's high jump at indoor nationals and then the heptathlon at the outdoor championships. There have only been four national champions [men or women] in track and field since the mid 1980s. The last national champion, in any sport for the Spartans, was women's swimmer Alicia Kendig, who won the 500-freestyle in 2003.
"I have seen a few of them [other Case national champions] gain their national championship, but was indirectly involved," said Assistant Track and Field Coach [distance] and Head Cross Country Coach Kathy Lanese. "But to be directly involved with someone that gains this honor, including all the sweat and tears through the years, is unexplainable. It was a thrill!"
GOOD EXPERIENCE … Case Western Reserve sophomore Obinna Nwanna (Maumee, Ohio) also made his first trip to the nationals this weekend. Although Nwanna failed to register a mark in the men's high jump, it was a great experience for the young student-athlete. The University Athletic Association champion made significant stride towards the end of the season, including a NCAA provisional qualifying mark [6,074 points] in the decathlon at a North Central College Invitational.
"He's young and it's great to be able to experience nationals," Head Track & Field Coach Steve Rubin said. "I'm sure he is going to return and have a tremendous amount of success."
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.