Five Spartans to Compete in NCAA Indoors

Mar 8, 2017

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DUBUQUE, Iowa – The University of Dubuque will have five participants in the 2017 Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Naperville, Illinois on Friday and Saturday. Tanasha Atwater and Fabiola Ortiz will represent the women’s team, Atwater in the shot put and weight throw with Ortiz running the mile. The men’s team had three qualifiers, Alec Bass in the 3000 meter run, Ronald Brown in the weight throw and Blaze Murfin in the weight throw and shot put.

Tanasha Atwater (Jr., Davenport, IA/Davenport Central) has not lost a single event she has competed in this season with nine wins in the shot put and eight in the weight throw. Atwater launched a season long toss in the weight throw at the Iowa Conference Championships of 18.71m, which was also a meet and school record. She set a new IIAC Championships record (14.67m) with her toss in the shot and won her second straight shot put title. For her efforts at IIAC Championships she claimed the Most Valuable Field Performer honor. She tossed her season best shot at the University of Northern Iowa Jack Jennett Invite with a throw of 15.01m, beating all Division I and Division III competitors at the event. 

Ortiz (Sr., Elgin, Ill./St. Charles North) posted a season best time in the mile on March 4 at the Pointer Final Qualifer, winning the event in 4:59.99. Ortiz has run the mile four times this indoor season, coming out victorious in three of them and finishing second the other time. She was a national qualifier in the women's cross country in 2016. She holds multiple school records during her collegiate career at UD.

After an All-American Cross Country season in the fall, Alec Bass (Jr., Spring Green, Wis./River Valley) has carried that momentum into the indoor track season. Bass has won all nine events that he has competed in this season, including winning the Distance Triple (Mile, 3k and 5k) at the Iowa Conference Championships earning Most Valuable Performer and being just the second competitor in the IIAC to win all three distance events at the championships.. He accounted for 30 points and helped the Spartans to their first Men's IIAC Indoor Championship in 2017, and first track and field championship since 1961. At the Pointer Final Qualifier on March 4, he ran a season best 8:19.49 in the 3000m, topping his previous best time by nearly 12 seconds.

Ronald Brown (So., Milwaukee, Wis./Wauwatosa West) has placed in the top nine in every event he has participated in 2016-17. He won the weight throw at the Iowa Conference Championships on Feb 24-25 with a toss of 19.59m setting the all-time IIAC record, facility record, and a UD record while also earning All-Conference honors in the shot put in 2017.

The lone male Spartan to qualify for two events (Shot Put and Weight Throw) at the NCAA Indoor Championships was Blaze Murfin (So., Dallas City, Ill./Illini West). Murfin has not finished worse than seventh place in the 20 events that he has competed in this season. He won the shot put at the Iowa Conference Championships with a personal best of 16.78m, the title was his second consecutive in the IIAC Indoor Championships. March 4 at the Wartburg Qualifier he launched a personal best toss of 18.74m in the weight throw which moved him into #3 in the event in the final weekend of qualifying.

The U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Regional Athletes and Coaches of the Year the 2017 NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field season were announced Wednesday with the Spartans picking up four awards and eight honoree's. UD head coach Chad Gunnelson was selected as Central Regional Coach of the Year. Alec Bass was named Central Regional Men's Track Athlete of the Year and Tanasha Atwater claimed Central Regional Field Athlete of the Year. “It’s an incredible honor to see the hard work of our student-athletes and staff be recognized by the great coaches of the Central Region," said UD head coach Chad Gunnelson. "Tanasha & Alec are such incredible competitors and represent exactly how dedication can be realized in the ring and on the track.”

Another UD coach picked up Coach of the Year honors as well as UD assistant coach Jake Malm was Central Regional Assistant Coach of the Year for both the men's and women's side for coaching the UD throwers to a successful indoor season. “Coach Malm has worked tirelessly to improve this program and create one of the best throws programs in the nation," continued Gunnelson. "This award reflects his efforts and commitment to our throwers developing champions.”

USTFCCA Women’s Central Region Honoree’s

Tanasha Atwater – Shot Put, Weight Throw
Fabiola Ortiz – Mile

USTFCCA Men’s Central Region Honoree’s
Blaze Barista - Triple Jump
Alec Bass – Mile, 3000 meters, 5000 meters
Ron Brown – Weight Throw
Blaze Murfin – Shot Put, Weight Throw
Kortez Picket – High Jump
Colfay Pointer – 400 meters