The Shippensburg University men’s distance medley relay squad (DMR) of sophomore Tom Kehl, sophomore Andrew Kujawski, senior Joel Flott and senior Matt Gillette won the 2013 NCAA Division II national championship Friday night with a meet record-setting time of 9:45.24.
SU achieved its second NCAA indoor DMR national championship in three years and its third consecutive Top 3 finish in the event, eclipsing school, conference and facility records in the process. It is also the second-fastest time in the history of Division II, trailing only an effort of Abilene Christian recorded in 2005 (per USTFCCCA records).
A strong 1,200-meter opening leg by Kehl had Shippensburg in fifth place entering the first exchange. Kehl led briefly at the two-minute mark but remained within two seconds of the leaders by the end of his run. Kujawski was credited with a 48.05 second-split on his 400-meter leg, which bumped the Raiders into fourth place entering the second exchange.
Heading into the final 200 meters of his 800-meter leg, Flott began a strong kick to gain ground on the front-runners of Adams State, Grand Valley State and UMass Lowell. Thanks to a stupendous 1:50.41 split in his 800 meters — two seconds faster than any other third leg — Flott handed the baton to Gillette with Shippensburg in the lead.
Gillette ceded the lead at the start of the 1,600-meter anchor leg to Grand Valley State’s Larry Julson, allowing the Lakers’ junior runner to set the pace. Trailing him stride for stride until the final two laps, Gillette began his patented kick with about 600 meters to go and began to build a sizable advantage — distancing himself significantly from Julson.
In order to win the championship, Gillette had to finish strong in the final 200 meters as Adams State sophomore Kevin Batt ran the fastest anchor leg of the competition (3:59.84) and came close down the stretch. In the end, Gillette had suitably paced himself to finish strong, securing the 1.5-second victory for the Raiders.