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Outdoor Track & Field Season Kicks Off With Two Meets in Florida

By Alisha Shor

The Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams spent spring break in central Florida, participating in the Spring Fling meet and Diet Pepsi Invitational in preparation for the upcoming outdoor season. The men placed first and the women second in the Spring Fling event, while the Diet Pepsi Invitational was not scored.

The Spring Fling meet, a midweek competition at the National Training Center in Clermont, FL, produced a number of outstanding performances. Despite the distant location, the Spring Fling meet featured mostly local Division 3 rivals. The men soundly defeated Colby 209–120, taking victories in all running events except the 400 hurdles, in which they had no entrants.

The Women’s team placed second, with four event winners contributing to the team’s 178 points, behind Colby’s 186 but ahead of the University of Southern Maine’s 156.

Part of the men’s victory was a strong middle distance contingent, including Alex G. Rothberg ’09 and Ulzie L. Rea, ’07 who took first (51.17) and second (51.57) in the 400 meter dash, as well as David N. Reshef ’08, who won the 800 meter run (2:01.74).

“I am continually impressed with Dave Reshef. He has come a long way since last year. Ulzie was a nice surprise in the 400, as was Alex Rothberg,” said Men’s Head Coach Halston W. Taylor afterwards.

The women brought fewer athletes to Florida than the men, competing only 14 in the Spring Fling meet. Despite the small roster, MIT had an impressive showing in the women’s 1500 meter run, with all three entrants placing in the top five. Adrienne M. Bolger ’09, Hana L. Adaniya ‘07, and Betsy R. Eames ’06 took second, fourth, and fifth respectively.

Later in the week, MIT traveled to the University of Florida to compete in the Diet Pepsi Invitational, a non-scoring meet against primarily Division I teams, as well as professional athletes. In the face of an increased level of competition, both the men and women stepped up their performances, with many athletes setting personal records.

Uzoma A. Orji, ’06, who won the Division III national championship this past indoor season in the shotput, threw national qualifying marks in both the hammer (187 feet, 7 inches) and the shot put (57 feet, 11.75 inches). Orji’s shot put was strong enough to earn him third place in that event. Also in the throwing ring, James R. Oleinik, ’09 set personal records in the hammer (129–8) and discus (121–1).

The highest individual places for both the men and women were recorded in the distance events. Eric A. Khatchadourian, ’06 took second in the 5000 meters in 15:35.06, while Alisha R. Schor, ’07, placed ninth with a personal best of 19:04.71 for the same distance.

The MIT women showed a strong team effort as well, recording 12 qualifying marks for the New England Division III championship between the two meets. Bolger, who was the women’s lone point scorer at the All-New England championship during the indoor season, qualified in the 1500 meter (4:56.18) and the 800 meter (2:23.15) events.

“Speaking on the women’s team, with continued hard work and proper physical and mental preparation, we should contend for the NEWMAC title and be a top 10 team at the New England Division III Championships,” Women’s Head Coach Fletcher Brooks said.

Both teams are hoping to translate Spring Break success back to New England, where the men have won five consecutive NEWMAC championships, and the women were second last season, 14.5 points away from overthrowing the perennially dominant Wheaton College.

On Saturday the track and field teams will travel to Worchester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for the annual Engineer’s Cup between MIT, WPI and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Both teams came away as victors in this meet last year.