So far, the Zips don't have any national champions. At the NCAA Championships, John Russell took third and Natalie Sako took ninth. That was enough to earn them All-American honors.
The real surprises, however, came the night before the championships. Coach Dennis Mitchell was named USTFCCCA Great Lakes Women's Coach of the Year. His competition was Joe Piane of Notre Dame and James Henry of Michigan. Piane and Henry won their conference championships, so that really says something about the respect Akron has nationally, Mitchell told me.
Russell also was named Great Lakes Region Indoor Field Events Athlete of the Year. That award encompasses schools from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin.
The Zips aren't done. This afternoon, Tomasz Smialek will compete in the high jump for a shot to become a national champion.
Swimming and diving
Akron's two NCAA Zone C diving qualifiers failed to advance yesterday in the 1-meter event. Katie Carter placed 21st and Melissa Holbach came in 35th. A top-18 ranking was necessary to move on.
They will get another shot today in the 3-meter competition.
If you've read any of the comments from readers on this blog, or anything on ZipsNation.org, you'll see that people are giving Nick Dials a tough time.
He has been a horrible shooter the past few weeks. However, no one gives an effort that is comparable to Dials. I have never seen a guy get as many floor burns as Dials.
In my opinion, he came back too early from knee surgery. But the Zips needed him to, especially once Bubba Walther transferred. And let's not forget that Dials is just a sophomore.
That said, Dials will have to win his starting job back next season. Cedrick Middleton and Jimmy Conyers will push him for playing time.
Let's look at the bright side. The Zips probably will find a berth in the postseason for the first time in 18 years. Is it what we all wanted? No. But it is a step that the program needed to take.
I also don't want to hear anything else about Keith Dambrot being a choke artist or bad coach. Coach, if you are reading this, disregard any idiot who implies that you aren't doing a good job.
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