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Gay, bisexual athletes out and proud at Big Ten track meet

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LGBTQ College Roundup: Jenny Allard leads Harvard softball to conference title, NCAA berth.

From left: Nebraska’s Jace Anderson, Minnesota’s Dawson LaRance, and Illinois’ Konrad Eiring together at the 2018 Big Ten Track and Field Championships on May 13 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Erik Hall

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — “How do you want to be remembered?”

Those words appear on the rainbow-colored bracelet that Nebraska’s Jace Anderson wears on his left wrist.

Anderson got the bracelet at last year’s San Francisco Pride and has worn it every day since, including May 13 at the Big Ten Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Bloomington, Indiana.

He placed eighth in the triple jump (49 feet, 5 1/2 inches) at the Big Ten meet to score a point and help the Cornhuskers finish third as a team.

Maybe more significant to be remembered — Anderson was one of at least five LGBTQ athletes competing at the meet.

He was joined by Illinois’ Konrad Eiring, Iowa’s Antonio Woodard, and Minnesota’s Dawson LaRance and Derek Wiebke. Woodard is bisexual. The other four athletes are gay.

“Being an LGBTQ+ athlete, it’s awesome that we’re able to represent (the LGBTQ community) and perform at a high level,” Anderson said. “Being gay doesn’t hinder you in any way. It’s part of who you are.”

The large contingent of out athletes marks a significant increase from previous years.

Eiring, a junior, came out publicly in high school. His first two years in the Big Ten, he didn’t know of any other LGBTQ track and field athletes in the conference.

In the last year, Anderson, LaRance, Wiebke and Woodard have all shared their stories on Outsports.

“It’s a testament to the growth of the Big Ten Conference and just college athletes,” Eiring said. “The stigma of that you can’t be a strong collegiate athlete and gay is dying off. That’s really frickin’ awesome.”

Iowa sprinter Antonio Woodard (No. 250) races during the 200 meters at the 2018 Big Ten Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Bloomington, Indiana. Woodard finished fifth in the event.
Darren Miller/hawkeyesports.com

Of the five LGBTQ athletes, Woodard brought home the most hardware from the Big Ten meet. He helped Iowa’s 4x400-meter relay win (3 minutes, 6.32 seconds), contributed to the 4x100 relay (39.51 seconds) taking fourth, placed fifth in the 200 meters (20.75 seconds), and took 13th in the 100 meters (10.56 seconds).

“I’m very happy with this weekend,” Woodard said. “The final day came, got some points on the board for the team, and gave everything for the glory and honor of God. It was a pretty good day.”

Iowa’s men finished sixth as a team. Minnesota’s men took seventh, and Illinois’ men finished 12th. Ohio State won the men’s team title.

LaRance took 19th in the 800 meters (1:52.04) and Eiring finished 24th in the 800 meters (1:53.62). Eiring also ran the third leg of Illinois’ 4x400-meter relay that finished 12th.

Derek Wiebke stands on the podium after finishing seventh in the 1,500 meters at the 2018 Big Ten Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 13 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Erik Hall

Wiebke finished seventh in the 1,500 meters (3:52.46), scoring two points for Minnesota.

“I would have loved to have medaled,” said Wiebke, a redshirt senior. “I made a move too early, and it cost me in the end. At least, I scored some points.”

Anderson, LaRance, Wiebke, and Woodson qualified as individuals and will continue their seasons at the NCAA preliminary postseason meet in Sacramento, California, on May 24-26. Eiring may run on Illinois’ 4x400-meter relay that qualified for the NCAA meet.

“It makes me really happy and proud for our community,” LaRance said of the success and representation of LGBTQ athletes in the Big Ten. “Hopefully this encourages other athletes to not be afraid to come out and just be themselves. … I’m proud of all of us.”

Being visible is a good way to be remembered.

Follow the athletes on Instagram: Jace Anderson (@JaceOf_Spades), Konrad Eiring (@TheKoneShow), Dawson LaRance (@Dawson_LaRance), Derek Wiebke (@DerekWiebke), and Antonio Woodard (@DontSweatThisGuy).

Konrad Eiring (second from left) prepares to receive the baton in the 4x400-meter relay during the 2018 Big Ten Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships on May 13 in Bloomington, Indiana.
Erik Hall

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBTQ. Results are for competitions that took place May 7-20.

Division I

Nile Clark (senior, Miami men’s tennis) won 6-2, 6-4 at No. 6 singles to help the Hurricanes beat North Florida 4-0 in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament on May 12. No. 13-ranked Florida beat Miami 4-0 in the second round on May 13. Miami ends the season 15-13 overall.

Jacob Cornish (sophomore, Texas diving) finished fourth at Sunday’s USA Diving Senior National Championships on platform with a score of 342.25 points. He also got third on 1-meter springboard with a score of 345.3 on May 14. His performance qualifies him for the FINA Grand Prix in Italy and Spain.

Off to Dallas to compete at world cup trials #usadiving

A post shared by Jacob Cornish (@jake.cornish) on

Johnny Kemps (junior, Boston men’s track & field) finished 17th of 32 runners in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (9 minutes, 17.38 seconds) at the IC4A Championships hosted by Princeton on May 12.

Jenny Allard (head coach, Harvard softball) led the Crimson to a two-game sweep of Dartmouth in the Ivy League Championships Series on May 12. Harvard beat Dartmouth 6-4 then 4-1. The Ivy League victory earned Harvard a spot in the NCAA tournament, where it lost 6-2 to No. 7-ranked Georgia on Friday and 10-1 to California on Saturday. “Getting to this point — ending your season in the NCAA Tournament — is a special accomplishment,” Allard said in a press release of Harvard’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2012. Harvard ends the season 23-18 overall, 14-7 Ivy League.

Colin Christiansen (assistant coach, UMBC softball) ended the season with a pair of losses in the America East Tournament on May 9. The Retrievers finish the season 12-31 overall.

Lowell McNicholas (assistant coach, Wisconsin men’s rowing) and Nich Lee Parker (head coach, Columbia men’s lightweight rowing) had their teams at the Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges Championship on May 13. Columbia won the title, and Wisconsin finished 10th. On May 16, Parker was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year, which is the first time he has received the honor.

Kirk Walker (assistant coach, UCLA softball) saw the Bruins (54-5 overall) win their NCAA Regional on Sunday with a 6-4 win against Cal State-Fullerton in the title game. UCLA closed the regular season by winning two of three against Arizona State on May 10-12. UCLA now faces Arizona May 24-26 in a Super Regional. The games will be on ESPN or ESPN2.

Division II

Kylon Drones (senior, West Texas A&M men’s track & field) earned a berth in the 110-meter hurdles to the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which are May 24-26 in Charlotte, North Carolina. On May 15, he was also named All-South Central Region in the 110 hurdles by the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. During his final regular season meet on May 13 at West Texas A&M, Drones won the 110 hurdles (14.44 seconds) and took sixth in the 200 meters (22.31 seconds).

Michael Holland (sophomore, Felician baseball) did not pitch in the final four games of the season as the Golden Falcons (30-25 overall) went 2-2 in the CACC Tournament on May 10-13.

Austin Shupp (redshirt junior, Shippensburg men’s track & field) was named all-Atlantic Region by the USTFCCCA in 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles.

Mark Johnson (assistant coach, Tampa baseball) saw the Spartans (40-9 overall) open the NCAA South Regional with a 12-2 win against Albany State on Friday. Tampa moved into the top ranking nationally in Division II before closing the regular season by going 1-2 against No. 4-ranked Florida Southern on May 11-12.

Lauren Lappin (assistant coach, Missouri-St. Louis softball) watched the Tritons (35-24 overall) go 2-2 in the NCAA Midwest Regional on May 10-12 to close the season. No. 19-ranked Illinois Springfield eliminated UMSL with a 5-3 and 4-1 win on May 12. UMSL beat Illinois Springfield 2-0 in 13 innings on May 11.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or Facebook. If you are an out LGBTQ athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.