FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EASTER, SAWLER WIN NCAA DIVISION III TITLES
LEWISTON, Maine Bates College junior Justin Easter of Jay, Maine, has produced the College's second national champion in as many days, winning the 3,000-meter steeplechase today at the NCAA Division III track and field championships at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. Senior hammer thrower Jaime Sawler of Stratham, N.H., won his second career national championship on Thursday, capturing the hammer throw.
the top seed in the steeplechase headed into the national championships, won
the race with a time of 9:02.02. He defeated second-place finisher Ryan Reed
of Pacific Lutheran College by just over three-tenths of a second. Easter jumped
out to an early lead during the first lap, then fell back into the pack for
the next three laps. With about a mile to go, he returned to the front of the
pack, stretching his lead to about 15 meters. Easter held off a hard-charging
Reed to earn his first national championship. He had finished seventh and third
in his previous NCAA steeplechase races in 2000 and 2001.
Sawler, the top seed entering the meet, won Thursday's competition with a throw of 188 feet, 10 inches. He defeated runner-up Justin Minor of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater by seven-and-a-half feet.
Sawler completed the 2002 season undefeated against Division III competition, also winning the 35-pound weight during the indoor track and field season. Sawler is the third athlete in Bates history to win multiple NCAA titles. He joins Wayne Pangburn (class of 1966), who won the NCAA College Division championships in the hammer in 1965 and 1966, and John Fitzgerald (class of 1987), who won the indoor 5,000-meters in 1986 and the outdoor 10,000-meters in 1987.
Bates has now won 12 individual national track and field titles all time. Easter's is the eighth outdoors and the fourth under current head coach Al Fereshetian. He is the first Bobcat runner to win a national title since Fitzgerald's in the 10,000. Bates' previous four titles were won by field athletes, including Sawler's two.
Senior Greg Hurley of Arlington, Mass., placed 11th in the hammer with a throw of 171 feet, nine inches. Hurley entered the meet as the 16th seed. He missed the finals by 13 inches.
Behind the two championship performances, Bates scored 20 points, the most-ever by a Bobcat team. They were eighth overall and second among New England teams. The University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse won the meet with 64 points, while Wheaton College was the top New England team in fifth place with 29 points. The eighth-place finish was also the school's best-ever finish at the NCAA outdoor track championships and matches the second-highest in any championship. The 1977 men's cross country team's sixth place is the college's standard, while the 1996 women's soccer team also finished in a tie for eighth.
Complete results from the NCAA championships are available at the Macalester College web site: http://www.macalester.edu/athletics/ncaa/index.html.
For more information on athletics at Bates, please visit our Web page at http://abacus.bates.edu/sports/.
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