Mitchell Black Wins Fourth NCAA 800 Title

At the same championships, Luke O’Connor earns All-American honors in 3,000 steeplechase

Mitchell Black

For the fourth time in his career, Mitchell Black, E16, is the 800-meter national champion. Black won his fourth overall and second consecutive outdoor title at the 2016 NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted by Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, on May 28.

Junior Luke O’Connor picked up the first All-American honor of his track and field career after finishing fourth in the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the championships. Junior Tim Nichols placed sixth in the 10k.

Running in an eight-man final, Black started out the race like many others of his, in the middle of the pack, and stayed there for the first lap. After that, he made quickly darted past two runners to move into second place behind Andrew Sharp of Greenville. Black stayed there until the last turn, where he moved right past Sharp and led the entire straightaway. 

His time of 1:49.58 is a stadium record at Wartburg. Sharp was second with a time of 1:50.10, and Cyrus Mason of Wisconsin-La Crosse was third with a mark of 1:50.47.

Black, a 10-time All-American, was certainly the favorite entering the race, with the top mark in the country—1:48.60, which he ran at the Larry Ellis Invitational hosted by Princeton on April 22.

He won his first 800-meter title back in March 2015, with a time of 1:52.95 at the 2015 Indoor Championships. He followed that up with a sweep in May as he took the outdoor 800-meter title with a time of 1:52.57. Black picked up right where he left off this winter, winning his third 800-meter title with a time of 1:52.48 this March. His latest win is his first sub-1:50 national title in the 800.

Earlier this month Black was named the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association New England Track Athlete of the Year for the second time—he also won the award this past indoor season. In April, Black was one of two student-athletes in the county to be awarded the NCAA’s 2016 Walter Byers Postgraduate Scholarship. He was the first recipient from the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC).

Black’s victory is the 16th title won by a Jumbo team or individual since 2010. Tufts teams have won eight NCAA championships: in men’s soccer (2014), men’s lacrosse (2010, 2014, 2015), field hockey (2012) and softball (2013, 2014, 2015). In addition to Black’s four wins, Julia Browne captured the 2010 Division III women’s singles crown in tennis; Johann Schmidt won the 2012 and 2014 NCAA men’s one-meter diving championships, and Jana Hieber took the 2014 NCAA women’s outdoor track 400-meter hurdles title. 

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