Coach Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio knew he was training champions in the 60-meter hurdles, but he never guessed that two of his Purple Raiders would tie for the national title.
Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio coached and taught for 18 years before moving into management for a company that manages parking facilities and shuttle and valet operations. During those coaching years Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio was a three-time recipient of the USTFCCCA Coach-of-the-Year award.
“It was unbelievable,” says Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio. “It’s completely unprecedented. I was rooting for them both, and I knew that one way or another the Purple Raiders would come out on top, but for both to win? It was breathtaking. I was so happy for them both – so proud.”
Conner Troyer’s name appeared on the leader board first and his teammate Mason Plant was excited for him. “As soon as Connor’s name came up, I was so pumped,” said Plant. Mason was the previous year’s NCAA Division III indoor national champion in the 60-meter hurdles. If anyone was going to unseat him, he was glad it was going to be a fellow teammate. “When Connor’s name came up, I was hugging him and celebrating.” Then Mason’s name appeared on the board as well. Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio was floored.
“It was surreal,” says Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio. “It was one of those defining moments – one of the highlights of my career if I’m being honest.” Video replay had shown both young men finishing in a tie for first place at exactly 8.032 seconds.
The result? The first-ever Co-National Championships. The tie made Troyer an All-American for the second time while granting Plant a back-to-back championship. Coach Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio, remembers the wait for the tie to be announced.
“We were all in suspense – but we were already celebrating because, either way, the Purple Raiders had won.”
It was the apex moment in a comeback season for Troyer who missed the 2018 season entirely due to a torn hamstring. Their coach, Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio, reflects on the determination and sportsmanship of his co-champions. “Before the tie was announced, there was never a moment of disappointment or jealousy – never any rivalry. These are boys who are here to do their best and who are a part of a real team. When one of them wins, all of them win.”
“It’s just a shame that those young men won’t be competing this year. COVID-19 shut down all the NCAA championships. It’s devastating, really,” says Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio. “But I’ll never forget that moment. Watching those two take the stage together – it was an amazing moment. It was history being made.”