Track Places Fifth in Div. III ChampionshipsBy Halston Taylor
This past Saturday, the men's track and field team finished fifth in the New England Division III Championships held at Brandeis University. Williams College finished first for the fifth year in a row with 127 points, followed closely by Tufts with 100 points. In a close battle for third, Brandeis scored 56 points, with Bowdoin (51 points), and MIT (50 points) close behind.
The competition began on Friday with the pentathlon. Bo Light '96 helped MIT to a good start by earning a fifth place with a personal best score of 3,004 points.
MIT scored no points in the long jump - the team was seeded to finish second - although Hung Hoang '96 jumped a season best, with a 20'8" effort.
The next event with an MIT competitor was the 35 lb. weight throw. Mike Butville '98 threw his season best (46'7 1/4"), but was one place from scoring, finishing seventh. Keith Bevans '95 competed well in the shot put, but also fell just short of scoring, as he finished eighth with a throw of 44'3 1/2".
In the pole vault, MIT was seeded fourth and fifth. Performing as championship athletes should, all three MIT entries achieved season bests. Dafe Ogagan '97 led the way with a second place jump of 14'6", one foot better than he has ever jumped in competition. Jason Melvin '97 and Andrew Jamieson '99 jumped their way to fourth and fifth, both clearing 13'6 1/4".
Morio Alexander '96 and Hoang led MIT to fifth and sixth place finishes in the triple jump, both jumping 42' 2 1/4". The Engineers were seeded fourth in this event, so coming away with fifth and sixth totaled only one point less than was hoped for.
MIT did not have many entries in the running events, but the runners they had did very well. Dan Helgesen '97 earned MIT's only victory of the day with an outstanding time of 2:32.79 in the 1,000-meter run. Joel Ford '98 was not far behind, finishing third in 2:34.95. Both performances were personal bests.
The 55-meter high hurdles did not go well for the Engineers. Although MIT was only seeded to finish fifth in this event, Coach Halston Taylor expected much more from his group of hurdlers. "They seemed to be improving every week, and on the verge of a real breakthrough", said Coach Taylor. Ogagan, seeded eighth, took time out of his pole vaulting to finish sixth for MIT's only points in the hurdles.
The Engineers' strong corps of distance runners had high hopes of scoring big points in the two distance events, the 3,000- and 5,000-meter. In the 3,000, Arnold Seto '96 ran a great race, trying to pull away from two All-American performers who had already run one race. Seto ran a personal best of 8:46.66, but was caught from behind by both talented runners, finishing third. Seto was only seeded fifth, so even though the victory was lost, more points were scored than expected.
In the 5,000, Josh Feldman '97 struggled through a hard-fought first mile, leaving him too fatigued to perform at his usual level. Josh was seeded second, but only finished fourth, with an average time for him of 15:31.13.
The last events of the day, the relays, saw MIT clinging to third place, six points ahead of Bowdoin and seven points ahead of Brandeis. The distance medley relay- consisting of distances of 800, 400, 1,200, and 1,600 meters - was first. MIT had high hopes, but the two most crucial legs, the 1,200 and 1,600, were being run by fatigued 1,000-meter runners Dan Helgesen '97 and Joel Ford '98. The other teams really stacked their squads, and by the time that Ford received the baton, MIT was in eighth place. Joel brought the team back to fifth place, but was at least 10 seconds behind first-place Brandeis. Helgesen tried to make up the ground, but was only able to catch one team, finishing in fourth.
MIT did not enter a 1,600-meter relay team due to a lack of quality runners, but Brandeis scored third in the event to take a lead over MIT, 55 to 50, with Bowdoin back at 42 points.
The last event was the 3,200-meter relay, and quite obviously MIT needed to defeat Brandeis by six points. Coach Taylor thought that this was possible, because Brandeis had used all of their good runners in the distance medley relay.
Seto led off, but was too fatigued from his 3,000 effort to really get MIT off to a good start. Chris Schell '96, Edgar Ngwenya '96, and freshman Neal Karchem made a great effort to come back. At one point, after Ngwenya's fine effort of 2:00.2, MIT was in fifth place. It was not to be however, as the Engineers were passed by Brandeis in the final straight, and faded to seventh. Bowdoin won the event to edge MIT for fourth place.
The track and field team's next meet will be at Boston University on Feb. 23 and 24. Some individuals are making the trip across the river with hopes of getting personal bests and perhaps qualifying for the National Championships.