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Caroline Billon finished second in her age group in the Ironman triathlon last November in Tempe, Arizona.

Caroline Billon finished second in her age group in the Ironman triathlon last November in Tempe, Arizona
Courtesy of Caroline Billon

Caroline Billon ’15 admits she’s hooked on Ironman endurance competitions.

A lifelong athlete, Billon entered her first Half Ironman triathlon roughly two years ago. The 70.3-mile test of endurance combines a 1.2-mile open-water swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Billon competed in three more Half Ironmans last year, as well as her first full Ironman, a grueling 140.6-mile competition. She plans to compete in another Half Ironman this summer and in her second full-distance event in the fall.

“You could say I’m hooked,” Billon said by phone from San Francisco’s North Bay region, where she’s a safety intern at Chevron. “Really, it’s about the ability to maximize the potential of my body and see what I can do. I haven’t hit my body’s limit yet. I want to see how far I can take it, what I can do with it.”

Billon has placed in the top 10 in her age group in four of the five races she’s entered. At the end of the 2015 season, she was ranked 25th out of 1,703 athletes worldwide in the Ironman Overall Age Group Rankings for women 18 to 24.

“To be in the top 5 percent of all those who have competed in both the Half Ironman and the full Ironman—it’s pretty amazing to me,” she said.

Billon’s best time in a Half Ironman was 5 hours, 37 minutes, and 9 seconds at the Ironman Eagleman in Cambridge, Maryland, in June of last year. In November, she completed her first full Ironman in Tempe, Arizona, placing second in her age group with a time of 10:57:45 and finishing just 32 seconds behind the winner.

That event served as a qualifier for the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and Billon missed qualifying by the slightest of margins. Her age group is allotted only one slot for the world championships, so her second-place finish left her one spot short of qualifying. That near miss has lit a fire under Billon to return to Tempe for the Ironman Arizona in November and to try again to qualify for the world championships.

Spring Highlights

Brandon Norfleet

Brandon Norfleet
Credit: Keith Boyer

Behind senior Brandon Norfleet, the men’s basketball team won the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division outright title for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. Norfleet had 662 points on the season, breaking the single-season record previously held by Randy Allen ’77. Norfleet garnered All-America honors from three different outlets, was named to the All-Atlantic Region first team, and was tabbed the PSAC West Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Year. The Crimson Hawks went 21-8, their eighth consecutive season with 20 or more wins. Head coach Joe Lombardi became the program’s all-time wins leader; he has a 225-85 record in 10 seasons at IUP. His son Dante Lombardi was named the PSAC Freshman of the Year.

Leslie Stapleton

Leslie Stapleton
Credit: Keith Boyer

The women’s basketball team advanced to the PSAC Championship game for the first time since 2009, and the Crimson Hawks qualified for the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. Named to the All-PSAC West first team, senior sharpshooter Leslie Stapleton set the program record with 216 career three-pointers. She also set PSAC records for free throw percentage, with a 93.3 single-season percentage and an 88.5 career percentage.

After 11 seasons at the helm of the Crimson Hawks’ baseball program, Jeff Ditch announced his retirement in May. Ditch left IUP with 253 victories, the most in the program’s history.

Amy Weinberg

Amy Weinberg
Credit: IUP Sports Information

With senior Amy Weinberg leading the way, the women’s lacrosse team tied the school record for victories in a season with a 13-6 mark and advanced to the PSAC semifinals for the third time in four years. The first three-time All-American in program history, Weinberg finished her career with 205 assists, a PSAC record and the fourth-best total in NCAA Division II history. Ally Burrows scored 49 goals and earned the PSAC Freshman of the Year award.

D.J. Horton

D. J. Horton
Credit: IUP Sports Information

Freshman D. J. Horton became the first men’s track and field athlete since 2011 to garner All-America honors with an eighth-place finish in the pole vault (16 feet, 4 inches) at the Division II Track and Field Championships. Horton also won the PSAC indoor and outdoor pole vault titles and was named the PSAC Indoor Freshman of the Year. The men’s track and field team finished fourth in team standings at the PSAC Outdoor Championships, IUP’s best finish since 2009.

Luise von Agris

Luise von Agris
Credit: IUP Sports Information

The women’s tennis team went 22-5 to match the school record for victories in a season, and IUP advanced to the NCAA Championships round of 16 and played in the PSAC championship match for the sixth straight season. Freshman Claudia Menes, who set a single-season record with 28 singles wins, was named the PSAC West and Atlantic Region Freshman of the Year. Luise von Agris set a school record with 52 combined wins—26 each in singles and doubles.

Hall of Fame

The 2016 class of the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame will include 13 former athletes and one journalist, who will be honored at the annual induction ceremony October 1 at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

The inductees, who represent nine varsity sports, are Paul Murphy ’68, Jim Angelo ’87, M’89 and LeRon McCoy ’05, football; Mike Beckles ’01, men’s basketball; Al Taylor ’96 and Brian Spickler ’98, M’02, track and field; Mindy Sawtelle-Zottola ’05, cross country and track and field; Gene Dellemonache ’89, M’90, ’01, track and field and football; Mike Sheleheda ’65, baseball and men’s basketball; Brittany Gates ’06, volleyball; Dave Myers ’93, golf; Neil Postas ’74, M’78, swimming; Rich Bonaccorsi ’86, wrestling; and Ed Bouchette ’73, sports writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Sylvia Noronha will receive the Honorary Bell Ringer Award for her contributions to IUP athletics.

The day’s festivities will start with a reception at 10:45 a.m., followed by the induction ceremony at 11:30. The inductees will also be recognized at halftime of the football game against Seton Hill that day. For tickets to the induction ceremony, contact Karyl Miller at 724-357-2057 or by e-mail at karyl.miller@iup.edu.

For up-to-the-minute news on IUP sports, visit www.iupathletics.com. There you’ll find all the latest news Namedroppers can’t bring you because of deadline constraints.

Alumni Notes

In his first season with the Seattle Mariners’ Class A Short Season affiliate, the Everett AquaSox, former IUP baseball standout Ryan Uhl finished with a .259 batting average, four home runs, and 35 RBIs, to go along with a .352 on-base percentage and a .393 slugging average.

After a promotion in April, Uhl was assigned to the Class A Clinton (Iowa) LumberKings’ opening-day roster, but he missed the first half of the season recovering from back surgery. The first baseman expected to return to the diamond later this summer. Read more about Ryan Uhl in the full IUP Magazine story, Chasing His Baseball Dream.

In June, Paige Beierschmitt ’14 became the first assistant coach ever hired by the newly formed women’s lacrosse program at Butler University in Indianapolis. Beierschmitt was a four-year starter at IUP and a two-time selection on the All-PSAC first team. She completed two seasons as an assistant coach at Misericordia University before taking the Butler job.

Two former IUP football assistant coaches under Frank Cignetti ’60, M’65 have been reunited at Stony Brook University in New York. Chris Bache ’87 and Carmen Felus will serve as the Seawolves’ co-offensive coordinators next season. Bache will serve as offensive line coach, and Felus as quarterbacks coach. Working under Cignetti in the early 2000s, the pair engineered offenses that helped IUP to five PSAC West titles and three trips to the NCAA Division II playoffs.

An assistant basketball and baseball coach at IUP in the early ’70s, Vic Cegles M’73 was named deputy athletic director at the University of Connecticut in May, following a successful 10-year run as the athletic director at Long Beach State University. Cegles has held various senior athletic department administration roles since 1981.

Ron McNabb ’83 has gone 56-34 in four years as boys’ basketball coach at Knoch High School outside Pittsburgh and has guided the Knights to the district playoffs every year. But McNabb’s coaching doesn’t end there. He also operates the Pittsburgh Basketball Academy in the Pittsburgh Mills mall.

Josh Huger ’11, M’12 recently completed his first season as an assistant swimming coach at Virginia Tech. Huger was previously an assistant for two years at William & Mary and for two years at IUP.