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Men's Track Finishes Third At NE Div. III Championships

By Bo Light
Team Member
Lewiston, Maine

Top athletes in track and field gathered at Bates College Saturday afternoon for the New England Division III Championship. Coach Halston Taylor and 33 members of the men's track team competed well, but settled for the third-place trophy out of 19 schools.

The Engineers earned 76 points, well ahead of fourth-place Tufts (54.5 points), but far behind but far behind Coast Guard (111 points) and repeat champion Williams, which set a new meet with 160.5 points.

Things looked bad for most teams before the day even started. Williams began Saturday's competition with 11 points on the strength of two places in Friday night's pentathlon, including a new meet record set by senior Todd Ducharme. MIT did not have an entry in the pentathlon, and thus went into the day eleven points down.

The first event, the 35lb. weight throw, featured John Wallberg '96 for the Engineers. Wallberg, who with a throw of 54' 7" has already qualified for the National championships, only managed a throw of 49' 8" in his flight, but still made the finals easily. Unfortunately, Wallberg was not able to improve on his throw in the finals and placed seventh, which did not score for the team. David Barron of Connecticut College won with a toss of 58' 1 3/4".

MIT fared well in the short distance running events, but the top places eluded most of the team members here. Jay Chiang '94 turned in a sixth-place finish in the 55-meter dash finals with a demonic time of 6.66 seconds. Surprisingly, though, Matt Sandholm '96 did not make the finals, as he and teammate Brian Pendleton '94 were outrun by a few too many competitors.

In the trials of the 200-meter, Sandholm sprinted to a third place finish in his heat to easily make the finals. But in the finals, Sandholm unluckily drew lane seven; the Bates track has only six lanes, with the seventh lane defined by the outside of lane six. This turned out to have been strategically planned by Coach Taylor, who was attempting to take advantage of the wider turn offered by the outside lane. He must have known something everybody else didn't, because Sandholm stunned the crowd by winning the race from the "phantom lane" in a stellar time of 22.80 seconds.

Dan Corcoran '94 took advantage of an error by the meet officials to reach the 400-meter run finals, where he placed seventh. In the 500-meter, Edgar Ngwenya '96, Marcelo Targino '96, Chris Schell '96, and Elliott Mason '94 ran strong races but did not qualify for the finals. Ed Patron '95 was on pace to qualify for the finals in the 800-meter, but injured himself in the final turn and finished out of the running. Jerry Pratt '94, the top seed in the 1,000-meter, was beaten by teammate Dan Helgesen '97 in the trials, but still made the finals, where he finished fourth. Helgesen finished seventh in the finals. Rob Casadonte '94 and Kimathi Hardy '97 did not make the finals.

In the 55-meter hurdles, Colin Page '95 and Paul Ogagan '97 both made the finals outright, and Ed Cho '94 tied a competitor for the last spot. The trio did not fare so well in the finals, though, as only Page scored in 6th place; Ogagan finished eighth and Cho ninth. The winner in the hurdles, Blake Novak of Coast Guard, set a new meet record at 7.61 seconds, breaking the record of 7.69 set by MIT's Sean Garrett '88.

At this point, however, things began to look up for the team. The field in the 1,500-meter run contained three of the top 10 milers in Division III -- Charles Kurtz of Williams, Pat Sullivan of Bates, and Ethan Crain '95 of MIT. These three ran away from the rest of the field and dueled for the victory in the final lap. Crain pulled away from Sullivan in the home stretch, but Kurtz was coming up strong. But suddenly Kurtz stumbled trying to change lanes, and Crain crossed the finish line unchallenged for MIT's first victory of the day.

Arnold Seto `96 found himself leading the 3,000 early on, but could not hold his lead and dropped back to finish seventh. Crain, meanwhile, having moved up from the back of the pack, again found himself in a sprint to the finish with Kurtz. This time, however, Ethan could not hold off his rival, and had to settle for second place by a half-step. In the 5,000, Jesse Darley '95 ran with the lead pack, which lapped the rest of the field. Darley couldn't outrun the pack, though, and finished fourth. Josh Feldman '97 broke from another pack with a few laps left, finishing seventh; Carlos Duran '94 came in eleventh.

In the distance medley relay, Schell ran a strong 800-meter and handed off to Kevin Knoedler '94 in second place. Knoedler held this place through a 400 and gave the baton to Pratt, who dropped back to third place during his 1200. Karl Munklewitz '95 dropped back further during his 1600, but passed several runners in the last lap to bring home a fifth-place finish.

The 4x400 relay team was given the disadvantage of competing in the slow heat, but the quartet of Mason, Targino, Ngwenya, and Corcoran won the heat easily and managed to beat a team in the fast section to finish sixth.

Dan Helgesen finished his leg of the 4x800 relay in seventh place, and when Gerry Corona '97 was unable to improve on this position, it looked as though the Engineers might not score. But Hardy ran a strong third leg and handed off to Casadonte in fifth place. Casadonte was quickly caught by two other runners, but outsprinted one of them to the finish line to take sixth place.

Meanwhile, on the infield, Morio Alexander '96 leapt his way to a fourth-place finish in the long jump. Hung Hoang '96 competed in the long jump finals, where he finished seventh. Over at the shot put, things were not going well for the Engineers, as Wallberg's put of 41'8 3/4" was not good enough to make the finals.

The Engineers gave themselves some breathing room in the triple jump, as Andy Ugarov '95, who was nursing an injured foot, and Alexander took third and fourth place, respectively. Elliot Hui `94 finished 11th.

In the high jump, Ugarov was one of four competitors to clear 6'6 1/4", and the only one to clear on his first try. When all four missed at 6' 8 1/4", Ugarov was given the victory; teammate James Kirtley `94 finished in a fifth-place tie.

The last event of the day to finish was the pole vault. During the warmups, a vaulter from Brandeis slipped, vaulted into one of the standards, and landed heavily off the mat. Several running events were delayed as the unfortunate vaulter was taken away in an ambulance; it was later reported that he broke his collarbone. The MIT fans were given a similar scare during the competition when Paul Ogagan missed the pit on a vault; he landed on his feet and luckily was not injured. In yet another strange occurrence, a Coast Guard competitor also managed to escape injury when his pole snapped in two while he was in mid-vault. At the end of the day, Matt Robinson '94 found himself in a duel with sophomore Drew Orsinger of Coast Guard. Both vaulters cleared 14'6", then 15 feet, then 15'6". They moved the bar to 16'2 1/4", the facility record, and Robinson cleared the bar on his second attempt. Orsinger could not, giving Robinson an unprecedented fourth straight N.E. Div. III championship in the pole vault, and giving MIT enough points to clinch the third-place trophy.

This weekend several team members will be competing in the NEIAAA championships at Boston University, against competition from all New England schools (all divisions). The national championships, which Robinson and Wallberg have qualified for, will be held March 11 and 12 at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh.