Nate Heddleston Alliance Ohio Leads Purple Raiders to Unprecedented Historic Co-Championship
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 at The University of Mount Union, 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 as far as we know. 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? I was speechless. 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 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–truly the highlight of my career.” Video replay had shown both young men finishing in a tie for first place at exactly 8.032 seconds.
The result? The first-ever teammate Co-National Champions. The tie made Troyer an All-American for the second time while granting Plant a back-to-back-to-back championship (60 hurdles, 110 hurdles, 60 hurdles; Connor would go on to win the 110 hurdles outdoor). 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. The mandatory 15-minute appeal period felt more like three hours.
It was the apex moment in a comeback season for Troyer who missed the 2018 season entirely due to a pulled 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. Each time it changed–from Connor to Mason, then back to Connor, then to both of them–we all just celebrated. 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, handing both of them the National Title was a moment beyond any coach’s wildest dreams.” Not to mention, it was history being made.
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