Track and Field Wins New England Division III TitleBy Rick Rajter
For the first time in 13 years, the MIT men’s track and field team won the New England division III outdoor championship meet against longtime rival Williams College. This victory marked not only the first undefeated outdoor season, but also the first undefeated year (indoor and outdoor) since the ’89-90 team that went on to place 2nd at division III nationals.
Going into the meet, MIT was favored to win by 20-25 points. This in itself was an impressive accomplishment considering the number of injuries that plagued the team this year. Brian C. Anderson ’04 (all-American 800 meter runner) and long jumper Thomas M. Hoover ’05, both valuable scoring members of the team, had to redshirt their seasons while others competed their entire season through injury. Despite losing at least 20 points because of these athletes being unable to compete, MIT scored 141 points, placing 39 points above Williams and 47 points above Springfield.
Khan, Traina lead MIT
All-American Christopher J. Khan ’04 continued to show his dominance in the throwing events by winning both the hammer and the discus at distances of 191’6” and 161’0” respectively. Khan is currently ranked second in the hammer and 12th in the discus for division III nationals. He also placed sixth in the shot put while achieving a new personal best by over two feet. Khan has been nominated for the field event athlete of the meet and stands a great chance of winning it.
Zachary J. Traina ’05 also had a banner day, winning the 200-meter dash with a national qualifying time of 21.73s and placing second in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.96s. Traina was also the leadoff leg of the 4x100 meter relay team (along with David Blau ’06, Mark Washington ’03, and Rick Rajter ’03) that outscored their seed time by over a second. This third place finish from the slow heat surprised many teams, including their own. With his exceptional performances, Traina has been nominated for the track athlete of the meet.
Other first place finishers include Nathan B. Ball ’05 and Brian D. Hoying ’03. Ball nearly had to redshirt his outdoor season due to problems with his hamstring, which occurred at the end of his indoor season. Miraculously, he began competing only a few short weeks ago and was able to vault 15’8”, beating the next competitor by a full foot and a half. Brian Hoying appears to be in peak jumping form and ready for nationals, clearing 6’9” for the high jump victory and improving his national qualifying mark by an inch and a half.
Throwers MIT’s biggest strength
In what has been a year of complete domination, the MIT throwers amassed 51 points (more than a third) of MIT’s total score. Backing up Kahn in the Discus was Gregory T. Walker ’03 and Uzoma A. Orji ’06 with second and fourth finishes. Walker’s throw was a 13’ improvement over his previous personal best, a performance that surprised and disheartened the Williams thrower that was seeded ahead of him.
Orji slipped from his first place seed for second place in the shot put, but he will have many chances in the future to claim his first place title. Dale M. Cotton ’04, competing for only the third time so far this year, threw a season’s best of 169’8” to secure sixth place in the javelin.
To put these performances in perspective, one only needs to look at the team results long enough to realize that the MIT throwers, by themselves, scored more points than 19 of the 23 teams present.
Just behind Williams in the high jump, All-American high jumper Craig D. Mielcarz ’03 jumped 6’8” for a third place finish. Mielcarz had a particularly busy day, competing in the long jump, high jump, and 110-meter high hurdles. Despite a plaguing back problem, he was able to get over 22’ in the long jump to secure fourth.
Also placing in the long jump was Nestor F. Hernandez ‘04 with a jump of 21’10” for sixth place. Hernandez also placed eighth in the pole vault to bring his point total up to four--not bad for someone who almost didn’t make it to the meet by missing the bus. Joshua F. Chartier ’06 placed just above Hernandez for a seventh place finish in the pole vault.
The only weak event for the MIT jumpers proved to be the triple jump. Victor L. Williamson ’04 led the team with a seventh place finish while Richard F. Rajter ’03 didn’t make finals due to a heel injury.
MIT lacks middle distance
Despite the track team’s strong history of mid-distance runners, MIT scored 0 points in the 400, 800, and 1500. Brian Anderson’s injury is only part of the reason for this void. MIT lost a returning 400-meter runner this year because he became ineligible to run. Injuries also plagued other members of the team earlier on in the season, including the four-time national champion duo of Fivos G. Constantinou ’06 and Steven J. Stoddard ’06.
Distance, hurdles, steeplechase
Racing 25 laps around the track is something that most track athletes dread, but Sean P.r. Nolan G proved that he can take the pain by running a solid race and placing second in the 10,000 meter run. Stephen K. Maltas ’06 joined Nolan in the 10K, conserving energy before working his way up to a sixth place finish.
For the steeplechase, MIT had hopes of placing as many as three athletes. But, with eighth place finishing in just under 9:40, only Benjamin A. Schmeckpeper ’05 was able to secure points with his third place finish.
The MIT hurdlers outscored their seeds, placing sixth and seventh in each of the two races for 10 points. Rajter and Mielcarz placed in the 110 high hurdles while running against a stacked field. D. Chris Peterson ’06 and Williamson placed in the 400 intermediate hurdles, both running season bests.
Last, but certainly not least, there were a few athletes that didn’t score any points at this particular meet. However, their contributions to the team were invaluable throughout the season. John A. Brewer ’05 made tremendous progress this season, dropping seconds off his personal best time in 1500-meter run with every meet. David P. Saylor ’04 had major improvements in all of this marks across the board and will be back in full force next year. Thaddeus J. Wozniak ’06 put everything on line for the decathlon, but came up a little short with a ninth place finish, an impressive mark considering he had only two weeks of training in four of the ten events.
Seniors finish collegiate careers
The end of this season marks the end of the line for the ’03 members of the track team. The arrival of this class helped breath new life into the men’s track team as a dominating force in New England. During their first season, the ’03s quickly became an integral part of the team, accounting for more than a third of the team’s total points during the regular season. The senior class has been a part of some truly impressive accomplishments. Their four year regular season record stands at 55 wins, two loses. They have been a part of three outdoor NEWMAC championship titles, three New England Division III indoor titles, and one New England division III outdoor title.
Two members of the team are All-Americans, Brian Hoying being a part of the indoor distance medley relay team that placed 3rd and Craig Mielcarz, who placed as high as second place in the high jump.
With the loss of the seniors, it may seem that this revived dominance may soon falter. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If anything, the experience, leadership, and determination that this class has brought to the team has greatly shaped the future of the program.
Many of the athletes that will remain and return to the team next year will continue to develop and improve their own performances as well as those around them. The team’s ability to recruit athletes, both in terms of quantity and quality, has also seen a dramatic boost. With so many great athletes staying, returning, and incoming with the class of 2007, the future of MIT’s men’s track and field program still looks bright.