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Men sit third at NCAC meet

Wallace Branche won his first NCAC championship on Friday afternoon.
Wallace Branche won his first NCAC championship on Friday afternoon.

Denison University currently sits third in the standings after the first day of the 2014 North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Track & Field Championship from the Mitchell Fieldhouse in Granville, Ohio.

The Big Red has 27 points after the completion of five of the 18 events.  Wabash leads the nine-team field with 61 points, while Ohio Wesleyan ranks second with 44 tallies. Denison is trailed by Kenyon (15) in fourth and DePauw in fifth (12).  Spots six through nine are occupied by Wooster (11), Wittenberg (10), Allegheny (8) and Oberlin (7).

DU opened the day with 15 points after posting two top-4 finishes in the triple jump.  Sophomore Wallace Branche captured his first NCAC Championship after winning the event with a leap of 45'11.75".  That distance bested second-place Ahmed Abdel Halim of Ohio Wesleyan by 5.50".  Narrowly missing all-conference honors was first-year Lester Harris who placed fourth with a combined jump of 43'8".

The Big Red picked up three more points in the shot put thanks to a sixth-place performance by junior Andy Shaw (pictured below).  The junior's best throw of the event came in the prelims where he recorded a toss of 42'06.25" with his final heave of the qualifying round.  Freshman Jake Dennie took eighth in his NCAC Indoor Track & Field Championship debut after finishing the 5,000-meter run with a time of 15:34.00.

In the final race of the night, the distance medley relay, the Denison foursome Mitch Keller, Zach Cove, Jon Brachna and Ryan Keller earned the Big Red eight huge points after finishing runner-up with a time of 10:30.03.  That time ranks 10th on the school's top performances list.

In preliminary action, sophomore Quenton Richards qualified for the finals of both the 60 and 200-meter events.  In the 60, the sophomore sprinter took second in his heat and third overall after crossing the line in 7.04. Two events later, Richards returned to post a time of 23.28 in the first heat of the 200-meter dash.  At the conclusion of the four-heat preliminary round, the sophomore's time ranked seventh, qualifying him for Saturday's final.

The 2014 NCAC Indoor Championship wraps up Saturday at the Mitchell Fieldhouse on the campus of Denison University.  Field events are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., while the running events will start at 2:30 p.m.