Track athletes from Division III schools across the nation were sprinting, throwing and jumping their way around North Central College's Al B. Carius Track on Friday during the first day of the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships for men and women.
The college aimed to hold the event last year during its 150th anniversary celebrations, but was chosen this year instead to play host to about 470 athletes competing in 15 events, said Clark Teuscher, sports information director at the Naperville school.
Even without sesquicentennial festivities, this is an exciting year for the Cardinals to have the Indoor Track and Field Championships on their home turf, Teuscher said. The men's team is coming off three straight Division III indoor championships and 13 straight indoor championships within its conference, the College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin.
"There aren't a lot of hosts that have a team with a chance to win or finish highly in the standings," Teuscher said. "We're in kind of a unique situation and we're very excited to see what these guys can do. We're excited to give them a chance to compete for the fourth one here at home."
Athletes competed in pole vault, weight throw and long jump field events Friday, along with preliminary competitions in the heptathlon, pentathlon, mile, 60-meter hurdles, 60-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter.
Three members of North Central's women's indoor track team were set to compete this weekend. Men and women participants also qualified from Augustana College, the University of Chicago, Illinois College, Illinois Wesleyan University, Monmouth College and Wheaton College.
North Central's indoor track has room for about 2,000 spectators and much of the seating was filled Friday during the first day of competition, Teuscher said.
The Division III indoor championships will continue at 11 a.m. Saturday.