TERRE HAUTE, IN – With two All-America performances in the 5,000-meter run under her belt, Amherst College senior Elise Tropiano (Plainview, NY) earned the title of "national champion" when she took home first place in the 5k at the 2009 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind. On the men's side, Amherst College's distance medley relay team placed seventh to cap off an impressive indoor season for the Lord Jeffs.
Tropiano had placed seventh at the indoor national championships as a sophomore and again as a junior, earning All-America honors each time, but she saved her best performance for her senior season. Her time of 17:09.45 as a sophomore came at Rose-Hulman, while her 17:30.89 last year took place at Ohio Northern. This year, Tropiano returned to Rose-Hulman and was the lone runner to finish under the 17-minute mark (16:58.84), edging Stephanie McNamara of Tufts University by nearly four seconds (17:02.76).
Prior to Saturday's national championship event, Boston University's Valentine Classic proved to be the most successful meet of the season for Tropiano, as that is where she qualified for the NCAA Championships. Her time of 17:07.99 placed her second in the meet and bested the automatic qualifying mark of 17:10, as Saturday's winning time was almost 10 seconds faster than her qualifying time.
It has been quite an impressive senior year for Tropiano, who finished in second place at the NCAA Division III Cross Country Championships and was named the USTFCCCA Division III Scholar Athlete of the Year.
After Saturday's national title, Tropiano will begin to prepare for what is expected to be a phenomenal season on the outdoor track. At last year's NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships, the tri-sport athlete placed eighth in the 5k (17:07.17) and finished sixth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (10:35.78).
Tropiano is the first Amherst student-athlete to win a national championship in indoor track and field since Carter Hamill '05 won the 5k in 2005 with a time of 17:02.40. Hamill also won the 5k in 2004 (16:46.63) and placed sixth in 2003 (17:09.14).
The Lord Jeffs' distance medley relay team consisted of sophomore Tommy Moore (Marlborough, MA) and juniors William Bell (Silver Spring, MD), Jimmy Swanson (New Orleans, LA) and Kit Callahan (Evanston, IL). Amherst earned a spot in the NCAA Championships and set a new school record when it ran a 9:59.60 at Boston University's Valentine Classic on Feb. 14, just finishing under the automatic qualifying mark of 10:00. First-year Ben Scheetz (Lancaster, PA) was a part of that squad, but an injury prevented him from making the trip to Indiana, as he was replaced by Callahan.
The Amherst DMR team stayed with the pack on Friday to run a 10:06.35, just 2.1 seconds behind Tufts' third-place team and 1.3 seconds behind Trinity College in fifth. No group managed to keep up with the pace of Wisconsin Oshkosh's squad that set a new Division III national mark of 9:56.79.
On the women's side, Tropiano's national championship earned the Lord Jeffs 10 points, leaving them in a tie for 21st place in the field of 68. The men's DMR earned two points to put the Jeffs in a tie for 61st in a field of 74.
For photo galleries, video highlights, full results and more, visit the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship Website.