Hillsdale's Oren, Findlay's Welch Named 2015 USTFCCCA Indoor Athletes of the Year; Vicars & Lynn Assistants of the Year

NEW ORLEANS – Following the 2015 NCAA Division II Indoor Track & Field Championships this past weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) announced Thursday the 2015 class of NCAA Division II National Athletes of the Year, as voted on by the coaches.

Emily Oren of Hillsdale was named Women’s Track Athletes of the Year, while Justin Welch of Findlay earned the Men’s Field Athlete of the Year Award.

Another historically fast distance runner took the Women’s Track Athlete of the Year Award in Hillsdale’s Oren, a sophomore from Holland, Michigan. She took down the meet record at 3000 meters by nearly 14 seconds in a 9:16.81 victory, winning by nearly four seconds over teammate Kristina Galat and by 10 seconds over Jennifer Johnson of Simon Fraser. She was just over two seconds off the facility record set by former Division I standout Elinor Kirk of UAB, and her time is one of the fastest in Division II Indoor history.

She ran that 3000 the night after anchoring Hillsdale to an 11:25.61 in the distance medley relay to win the title by nearly three full seconds over Simon Fraser.

During the season, Oren won the GLIAC title in the mile, and ran a blistering 3000 in 9:28.11 the weekend after the NCAA Cross Country Championships in December.  She finished the regular season No. 3 on the qualifying list in the mile at 4:45.21.

Taking the Men’s Field Athlete of the Year was Welch, a senior from Luckey, Ohio. For the second year in a row he won the NCAA Division II title in the weight throw, this time with a heave of 72-5 (22.07m). He made that mark count, as it was his only legal attempt of the weekend. He defeated runner-up Darien Thornton of Grand Valley State by more than two feet.

He also took eighth-place in the shot put with a throw of 55-5½ (16.90m).

Throughout the regular season he reached as far as 72-8 (22.15m) in the weight throw and a career-best 55-9¾ (17.01m) in the shot put to finish eighth in the GLIAC. He won the GLIAC weight throw title by 11 centimeters over Ashland’s Jared Conklin at 21.99m. He finished the season ranked 10th among all collegians in the weight throw.

NEW ORLEANS – Coaches from the top two men’s and women’s teams from the NCAA Division II indoor track & field championships were recognized as the national Head and Assistant Coaches of the Year on Wednesday.

Findlay tied Grand Valley State for second in the men’s meet, and more than half of their points came from athletes coached by men’s Assistant Coach of the Year Derrick Vicars.  Similarly, the Hillsdale women were second and nearly all of their points came from distance runners under women’s Assistant Coach of the Year Joe Lynn.

The winners of the coaching awards were selected based on a vote of the coaching body.

The shot put competition was dominated by the Findlay men, coached by Derrick Vicars, who only finished his undergraduate throwing career in 2013.  His throwing corps had three men score in the shot put—led by Taylor Miller’s runner-up finish—and Justin Welch win the weight throw.  As an independent team, his throwers’ 22 points would have been the twelfth-place squad at nationals; for Findlay, they helped the Oilers tie for second place.

Welch’s performances were particularly elite this winter.  His 22.15 meters mark in the weight throw would have ranked in the top ten in Division I.

While the Jennies did it all in the field, the Hillsdale Chargers did it all on the track.  Joe Lynn’s women went 1-2 in the 3k, took second in the 5k, and won the DMR.  Emily Oren won the 3k and anchored the winning DM, and Kristina Galat delivered the double runner-up finishes in the five and three.