Track and Field Stays Undefeated
By Daniel Wang
Associate Sports Editor
The men's indoor track and field team improved its record to 15-0 by compiling the highest point total at a meet Saturday at Johnson Athletic Center. Teams from Amherst College, Fitchburg State College, Springfield College, University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth, and Tufts University were present.
In terms of team scoring, the meet had been quite close for MIT most of the meet, as Tufts provided some stiff competition. In the end, MIT prevailed, with a final score of 241, with minimal comfort over the 213 of Tufts. The final scores for the other schools were: Springfield 77, UMass-Dartmouth 38, Fitchburg State 21, and Amherst 13.
The Engineers, as always, showed some strong performances in the field events, displaying obvious signs of improvement. On the track infield, the highlight of the meet was the soaring of pole vaulter Matt Robinson '94. After beating most of the field after his first few vaults, he had only his limits to compete with. He was able to regroup from failed attempts to clear 15 feet 7 inches, and to qualify for the NCAA Division III National Championships. Robinson holds both the MIT indoor and outdoor pole vault records, but currently seeks the facility record of 16 feet 6 inches, set by Glenn Archer of Yale University in 1986. With his personal indoor record of 16 feet 3 1/2 inches, the feat seems quite possible for Robinson.
Another highlight of the field events was the performance of Andy Ugarov '95, who competed in the high jump, long jump, and triple jump, and performed some interesting rituals before making his jumps. In the high jump, he passed the first two heights, then cleared each height on his first attempt, until the bar was set at 2.04 meters (6 feet 8 inches). Clearing the height would qualify him for NCAA competition. He tried hard to gather his adrenaline and concentration, but endured the frustration of three near-misses.
Ugarov also finished second in the triple jump, leaping 42 feet 10 3/4 inches, and even led the long jump before being passed in a later flight. Among those who surpassed him were teammates Hung Hoang '96 and Morio Alexander '96, who finished second and third, respectively.
Among the throwers, John Wallberg '96 easily won the 35-pound weight throw, with a heave of 50 feet 6 inches. Winning by more than nine feet, Wallberg led throughout the competition. In the other weight event, the shot put, Wallberg finished fourth, missing third place by one-and-a-half inches.
Mile, 800-meter wins
On the track, the Engineers were off to a quick start, winning the first two events. Ethan Crain '95 won the first event, the mile run, in a time of 4:25.21 minutes. Crain later added a second-place finish in the 800-meter run. Jesse Darley '95, while not able to keep up with Crain's scorching pace, won the sprint for third place, posting a time of 4:28.58. Later on, in the 55-meter dash, Paul Ogagan '97 held off his opposition to win with a time of 7.95 seconds, the top time by an MIT runner this season.
MIT had held the lead in team scoring most of the way, but trailed after the end of six events. At that point, Tufts had 82 points, while the Engineers trailed, with 80, with no other team in sight, since the two schools hoarded most of the top spots in each race.
The Engineers responded to the challenge by immediately regaining the lead, and then pulling away. For most of the meet, results in every race made a big difference. Coach Halston Taylor was worried that his team would have to win the two relay events, the finale of the meet.
Close finishes in 200, 5000 meter
Two individual races created some excitement: the 200-meter dash and the 5000-meter run. In the 200, the competition was held in four heats, and results were based on times. In the second heat, Marcelo Targino '96 outsprinted teammate Akin Aina '95 who had led most of the way. Even more impressive, was the fourth heat, where Matt Sandholm '96 ran with blazing speed to beat challengers who finished on his heels. Incidentally, Sandholm's time of 23.42 seconds edged two Tufts sprinters. The difference between first and third place was 0.10 seconds.
The 5000-meter run is a grueling test of nerves and endurance; on this day, Jesse Darley '95 prevailed over his opposition. The pace was rather slow, as the pack, led by Arnold Seto '96, stayed together for the first 15 of 25 laps. Seto took the lead with three laps to go, but fell behind soon afterwards. At that time, Darley took the fore and edged a Tufts runner in the final sprint. Seto came in third place.
After the race, the team standings were tabulated and revealed to Taylor that his team would not have to win the 4x400- and 4x800-meter relays. Even so, spectators, including teammates finished with their own events, filled the area with the deafening noise of excitement.
In the first relay, Kevin Knoedler '94, Edgar Ngwenya '96, and Crain helped keep MIT in the lead that it would lose near the point where Crain passed the baton to Javit Drake '94. Drake fell behind, but pursued his Tufts opponent like a coyote chasing a roadrunner. However, he ended up losing the sprint, and finished second.
The second relay event was similarly exciting, especially since the Tufts cheering section did not know that MIT had already clinched the meet. Teams from Springfield and Tufts appeared to be faster and had better hand-offs than the Engineer foursome. At the time, there were cheers for both the race and for Robinson's efforts at the pole vaulting area.
Second chance at championship
After the meet, the team remained undefeated in the Quad Cup league. MIT and Williams College are both undefeated in the league and will square off for the title on Feb. 11, at Johnson Athletic Center. Obviously, the winner will remain undefeated and take home the championship. The situation is similar to last year, except that Williams ended up winning, handing the Engineers their only defeat of the season. Other schools that will be competing include Westfield State College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Eastern Connecticut State University.
The team will head to Harvard University this weekend to compete in the Greater Boston Classic. The event features the area's top teams from Division I, II, and III schools including host Harvard, Boston University, Bentley College (Div. II), and Tufts.