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Ephs Run, Jump, and Throw Past Engineers

By Daniel Wang
Associate Sports Editor

"There's strength in numbers."

This certainly seemed to be the case when the men's indoor track and field team took on Williams College in a Quad Cup meet at the Johnson Athletic Center Saturday. Although there were other teams competing in the meet -- Eastern Connecticut State University, Westfield State College, and WPI -- the battle was between MIT and Williams from the outset. The Engineers and the Williams College Ephs combined to win all but one of the 17 events.

Unfortunately, more of the wins, places, and shows went to the Ephs, as they outscored MIT, 265 points to 228.5. The next highest team, ECSU, finished with 39.5 points. Williams effectively handed the Engineers their first loss of the season and remained undefeated while capturing the Quad Cup championship. After this, the final head-to-head competition of the season, the Engineers ended up with a record of 18-1-0.

The problem was not the number of team members -- MIT had the most participants in the meet -- but the number of people who scored in the top four or five places, which added to the team score. From the beginning, the Engineers knew that every placing in every event would be critical; every place won over the opponent would make a big difference. Williams also seemed to know that.

Action on the infield

As always, the meet opened up with the field events. The highlight turned out to take place in the 35-pound weight throw. With two challengers from Williams throwing over 50 feet, John Wallberg '96 launched the weight a distance of 54'7-1/2" on his third of six throws, taking first place. However, Williams showed its depth by taking the next three places. In the shot put, Wallberg managed a third place, while Williams took the remaining four of the top five places.

There was also some excitement in the high jump area, as James Kirtley '94 and Andy Ugarov '95, along with two other jumpers from Williams were the only ones left with the bar set at a height of 6'3". As the bar went higher, the field diminished by one person at a time. Richard Campin was eliminated at 6'3". Kirtley's timing was off on all three of his jumps, and could not clear 6'5". Ugarov and Williams' Todd Ducharme both managed to clear that, and also at 6'7". Afterwards, both requested a height of 2.04 meters (equivalent to about 6' 8"), the qualifying height for the NCAA Division III national championships.

Ugarov gave all that he had, but could not soar over the bar. Ducharme cleared the height and won the event. But he chose not to go further to save himself for other events. He would later become a scoring machine for Williams, as well as a nemesis of MIT, earning team points in six events.

Williams increased its lead over MIT in the horizontal jumping events. In the long jump, Clayton Kempain of ECSU was the only competitor not from MIT or Williams to take first in an event, leaping 22'3" on his very first attempt. Ducharme came in second, despite passing on his last four jumps after traveling 20'6-1/2". Hung Hoang '96 provided the best result for the Engineers, taking third with a distance of 20'5-1/4". Williams and MIT then captured fourth and fifth place, respectively, with Micky Williams '94 providing a 20'1-1/4" effort for the Engineers.

The triple jump, the last field event of the day, did not look too much brighter for the Engineers. Williams won three of the four top spots. Morio Alexander '96 jumped 43'6-1/4", more than a foot behind the winner, but enough to prevent a 1-2-3-4 sweep by the Ephs. Interestingly, MIT took the fifth, sixth, and seventh places.

Among field events, the highlight for the Engineers came in the pole vault, where they had a sweep of the top three places. Matt Robinson '94 passed on the first few heights, but then secured the event on his first attempt at a height of 14'3". He later cleared 15'6", then requested the bar to be moved up to 16'0", a few inches below his record-setting personal best. Unfortunately, he could not summon enough energy on his three attempts to clear the bar. William Arnold '94 and Paul Ogagan '97 came in second and third, respectively. Both had cleared 13'3", but Arnold did so in fewer attempts.

Mixed results on the track

The running events, as always, provided much excitement. However, despite the best efforts put forth by the Engineers, it was the Ephs who were doing the cheering.

Things got underway with the 1,500-meter run. Ethan Crain '95 held the lead most of the way, but lost his lead on the last turn and could not outsprint his opponent. The pace was quite fast, as Crain posted a time of 3 minutes 58.44 seconds. Williams also had runners coming in third and fourth places.

Williams also captured the sprint events, with MIT runners finishing close behind. In the 55-meter high hurdles, Ducharme won his second event with a time of 7.78 seconds, edging Ogagan, who came in at 7.92. There was an ever closer finish in the 55-meter dash, where Matt Sandholm '96 and Brent Wilson of Williams tied with a time of 6.59 seconds. However, the photo of the finish showed that Wilson had barely beaten Sandholm to the finish line.

Sandholm gained redemption by winning the 200-meter dash, using his scorching speed to finish in 22.86 seconds. Williams, however, took the next three places, and controlled the slightly longer sprint events. MIT was shut out of the top three in the 400-meter run, and the Ephs managed a first and third place finish. Dan Corcoran '94 finished fourth with a time of 52.73. Marcelo Targino '96 captured first place in the 500-meter run with a winning time of 1:08.17, but the Ephs managed to take second and third. The Engineers received some help when a Williams runner false-started out of the race. After leaving too soon, he clearly expressed his anger on the way back to the sidelines.

MIT displayed some impressive individual performances in the distance events, but managed to gain only one of the top four places in each. Crain went from being outsprinted in the 1,500, to outsprinting his opponents from Williams in the 800-meter run. Crain came in at a time of 2:01.12 in this race.

In the 1,000 meter run, Jerry Pratt '94 and two other Engineers held the top three spots at one moment in the race. However, the field started increasing the already blistering pace, and only Pratt was able to stay in the front. Charles Kurtz of Williams passed Pratt on the final lap and maintained the lead on the final sprint to win the race. Pratt finished a little more than a second behind, with a time of 2:35.74.

In the 3,000 meter run, the Engineers and the Ephs dominated the top six places throughout the entire race. The story of this race was much the same as the entire meet. Jesse Darley '95 prevented a 1-2-3 sweep by placing third, with a time of 8:46.5.

After that race, Williams clinched the team victory, leading MIT by a score of 229 to 197.5. Thus, the final relay events lost some of their usual excitement, as the cheers were more for the individual efforts of the team members, rather than for the overall team result. Williams increased its lead by winning the 4x400-meter relay, defeating MIT -- represented by Elliott Mason '94, Edgar Ngwenya '96, Dan Corcoran '94, and Marcelo Targino '96 -- and ECSU by more than 9.5 seconds. In the final event, however, the distance medley relay foursome of Jerry Pratt '94, Kevin Knoedler '94, Tarik Saleh '95, and Karl Munkelwitz '95 won, posting a time of 11:16.55, easily beating Williams and WPI.

This was the second time the Engineers placed second to Williams College in the Quad Cup. Moreover, MIT has lost to Williams for three years in a row. Incidentally, before the losing streak, MIT had defeated Williams eight consecutive times.

Despite the result, head coach Halston Taylor had some positive things to say about the meet. "We had a great meet.," Taylor said, "We didn't lose the meet. They [the Williams team] were just better." He pointed out that many of the athletes for MIT had performed better at this meet than at the Greater Boston Indoor Classic the previous week, where many team members set personal and season bests. Taylor now looks on to the upcoming New England Division III Championships, where he is hoping for a team finish somewhere among the top three places.

Focus shifts to individuals

For the Engineers, the primary focus for the remainder of the season will be on individual performances. This weekend, at least 30 of the team members who qualified will head to the New England Division III Championships at Bates College. Despite a disappointing sixth place finish last year, the Engineers have enjoyed some success in the meet. MIT last won the team title in 1990.

All meets after the regional competition will be invitational events for individuals. The biggest event will be the NCAA Division III Championships, taking place at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, in the middle in March. Robinson and Wallberg have qualified for the national meet in the pole vault and the 35-lb weight throw, respectively. Taylor expects a few others from MIT to qualify in the near future.