Wittenberg women’s track, cross country programs complete triple crown

Tigers win three straight NCAC championships in 2022-23 academic year

Wittenberg had never won a North Coast Athletic Conference championship in women’s cross country until last fall. It had never won a NCAC title in women’s outdoor track until this spring.

Throw in the program’s second crown in women’s indoor track — and first since 1997 — and there’s no doubt the 2022-23 season has been the best in school history for the programs.

“It’s been great seeing that the hard work truly pays off,” coach Paris Hilliard said Thursday. “Just seeing the plan come to fruition, it means the world to me. It has been great to see our ladies’ excitement. That has been really joyful for me.”

Hilliard, a native of Lorain, Ohio, who graduated from Heidelberg University in 2010, spent four years as an assistant on Craig Penney’s staff until taking over the track programs in August of 2015. In the spring of 2019, he also took the reins of the cross country programs.

The women’s cross country team won its first championship in October. It was a dramatic turnaround for a program that finished last three straight years at the eight-team NCAC meet (2017-19) and sixth in 2021.

Junior Corin Turkovich won the race last fall at Wooster, becoming the second Wittenberg runner to win the individual championship and first since Abi Gerstle in 2001 and 2002. Wittenberg had five other top-15 finishers: junior Sydney Khosla, a Centerville graduate who placed third; sophomore Kiki Krohmer (10th); freshman Emma Hawk (11th); freshman Ella Webster (14th); and sophomore Megan Keys (15th).

At the indoor championships in February at DePauw, sophomore Haleigh Willison won the Sprint Athlete of the Year award by winning the 200-meter dash and finishing fifth in the 60. Khosla won the Distance Athlete of the Year award by finishing first in the mile and the 3,000. Webster, who finished second in the mile and 3,000, was named newcomer of the year.

The outdoor championships took place at Ohio Wesleyan in Delaware last weekend. Sophomore Meghan Frazier was named the Women’s Sprint/Hurdles Athlete of the Year. She won the 100 and the 200 and raced with the winning 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams.

Khosla was named the Women’s Distance/Middle Distance Athlete of the Year. She won the 3,000-meter steeplechase, setting a NCAC championship meet record of 10 minutes, 39.31 seconds. She finished second in the 1,500.

Springfield High School graduate Tymeerah De’Armond, who won the 400, finished fourth in the 200 and raced with the 4x400 relay team, won the Newcomer of the Year award.

Hilliard said all the athletes were aware Wittenberg had never won the outdoor championship.

“More importantly, they really wanted the triple crown,” he said. “They wanted to win cross country, which was the first one. We thought that would be the hardest one of all. When they did it, we knew could win indoors. So the whole year our goal was a triple crown. (Outdoors) was the final piece to our puzzle.”

Khosla qualified for the NCAA Division III championship, which starts May 25 at St. John Fisher in Rochester, N.Y., in the steeplechase. Several other relay teams and individual athletes could qualify in upcoming last-chance meets.

Hilliard explained the programs’ success this way.

“In the recruiting process, the facilities are a big piece of it,” he said, “but I think they buy into our family atmosphere and really get a sense our ladies are dedicated to winning — not just on the track but in life. They care for each other. I think, for us overall, the team has had the pieces. Some of the freshmen really helped us this year, but a lot of these ladies are sophomores, and they were here last year and they bought into the dream that they could be the piece. Last year didn’t quite happen. They were a little banged up and didn’t have some luck. We went from sixth and seventh in indoor and outdoor last year to winning both this year. I think they just really bought into this year being the turning point that helps us get the program to the top, and that’s what they were able to do.”

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