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updated: 3/10/2017 11:41 PM

North Central perseveres at nationals

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  • North Central College men's 1,600-meter relay team advanced to Saturday's finals with the fourth fastest time out of Friday's preliminaries. Pictured are (from left) Peyton Piron (formerly of Batavia High), Ben Nordman (Belvidere North), Zach Kirby (St. Charles North) and Daniel Spaccapaniccia (Naperville Central).

      North Central College men's 1,600-meter relay team advanced to Saturday's finals with the fourth fastest time out of Friday's preliminaries. Pictured are (from left) Peyton Piron (formerly of Batavia High), Ben Nordman (Belvidere North), Zach Kirby (St. Charles North) and Daniel Spaccapaniccia (Naperville Central).
    Dave Oberhelman | Staff Photographer

  • Elizabeth Brandenburg

    Elizabeth Brandenburg

  • North Central College freshman Chris Buechner, out of Glenbard West, ran the 800 meters on North Central's All-America distance medley relay.

      North Central College freshman Chris Buechner, out of Glenbard West, ran the 800 meters on North Central's All-America distance medley relay.
    Dave Oberhelman | Staff Photographer

  • North Central College's indoor track is hosting the NCAA Division III championships this weekend.

      North Central College's indoor track is hosting the NCAA Division III championships this weekend.
    Dave Oberhelman | Staff Photographer

  • Dave Oberhelman/doberhelman@dailyherald.comRunners take their mark for the start of the women's 60-meter dash Friday at North Central College.

    Dave Oberhelman/doberhelman@dailyherald.comRunners take their mark for the start of the women's 60-meter dash Friday at North Central College.

 
 

Daniel Spaccapaniccia felt terrible before the race. Holding his head over a garbage can afterward, he didn't look great then either.

Somehow the Naperville Central graduate gutted it out and led off North Central College's 1,600-meter relay Friday at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships at the Al B. Carius Track in Naperville.

"I wasn't quite sure how I was going to run before the race, but I gave it my all. We ran a fine time, not our best this season, but I think we're sitting second or third so I'm happy with it," Spaccapaniccia said.

"Our sick teammate here, bad stomach, was throwing up all night, it was basically food poisoning. He came out here, didn't care about that," said Batavia graduate Peyton Piron, who with St. Charles North's Zach Kirby and Belvidere North's Ben Nordman recorded a preliminary time of 3 minutes, 19.13 seconds, fourth fastest entering Saturday's finals.

"He's fine, we're all tough," Kirby said. "We're all dealing with our own separate things."

"I could feel it the first half a lap," Spaccapaniccia said, "but once you get going you usually kind of just shut those things out. Definitely felt it after the race, though."

Spaccapaniccia and the North Central men, who entered the meet ranked sixth in Division III, could be temporarily soothed by their 26 points after five events scored, in first place ahead of Stevens Point (15) and Eau Claire (13).

"We came in expecting to get 19 points total, like Day 1 and 2," said Chris Buechner, the Glenbard West graduate who ran the 800-meter leg of North Central's All-America sixth-place distance medley relay. Hinsdale Central product Nathan Hill, like Buechner a freshman, ran the opening 1,200 portion of Middlebury's third-place medley.

"I think all of us, we were just told to run our own races and, you know, the results will come," Buechner said.

The results will come fast and furious Saturday for senior Rebecca Ridderhoff, out of Downers Grove North.

A petite workhorse for No. 1-ranked Washington University in St. Louis, the senior qualified for Saturday's finals with the eighth and last slots in both the 60-meter hurdles and the 400 dash, ran the fifth-fastest 200 preliminary and led Washington's 1,600 relay to the second-fastest time.

Ithaca, paced by Katherine Pitman's meet-record pole vault of 13 feet, 8½ inches, leads the women's standings with 23.25 points.

Loras College senior Elizabeth Brandenburg, of Metea Valley, tied for eighth in vault, All-America yet off her fourth-place finish in 2016 indoors. She placed second outdoors in 2016.

Brandenburg had a great excuse, sporting a walking boot on her left ankle.

"They're saying it's a possible stress fracture but we don't really know. I was kind of waiting to see what happened this weekend. I'll probably -- not probably, I will -- take some time off. I need some time off and go to the doctor's, get it figured out before outdoor so hopefully I can have a better showing," Brandenburg said.

"I'm content. I wouldn't say happy or, like overjoyed or anything like that, but I'm pretty motivated to come back and do a lot better outdoors."

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