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A disappointed Mitchell reflects

By mrasor Published: June 10, 2006


Coach Dennis Mitchell certainly had high expectations for his athletes in yesterday's NCAA Championship finals.

So high, four All-Americans is not enough.

"We were trying hard to bring the Zips home a national individual title," he said.

Ashley Kaufman, who was ranked first nationally in the javelin earlier in the season, injured her back in the early rounds, which prevented her from taking her last three throws.

"Javelin throwing is a brutal event," Mitchell said. "The unnatural torque on the body can lead to many different types of injuries."

Kaufman, who has fractured her back before, ends her career as a two-time All-American.

Many expected John Russell to finish higher as well. He didn't because he had an all-or-nothing strategy in the event. He had been a four-time All-American leading up to the event.

"For John Russell, the whole strategy was to win the event," Mitchell said. "We passed some bars, took some risks that we knew we would have to take to help him win, but it cost him a higher placing."

Mitchell said Natalie Sako actually took the Zips' third All-American honor, not Tomasz Smialek. Sako, who finished 12th in the high jump, gained the award basically on a technicality. There were six international competitors in her event. The top eight Americans automatically earn All-American status.

Sako also was injured during the event, but still peformed well, Mitchell said.

"She gave it her all and was still able to muster two bar clearances," he said.

Smialek was the Zips fourth All-American athlete.

Although this was a sour ending for Mitchell, I think the whole season was a success. Sending 22 athletes to regionals, six to nationals, four to the national finals and having three All-Americans is pretty damn impressive. That's not to mention the team accomplishments, such as the women's Triple Crown and the men surpassing anything they have ever done.

Mitchell prefers to look to next year:

"We hope to soon be an even (bigger) player on the national stage. I think we had our best year of recruiting. So continue to watch out for us in the future."

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