The MIT men’s track and field team went undefeated in the winter 2007 indoor season, securing wins over Division III powers such as Williams College and Tufts University. The season was highlighted by great team results, along with impressive individual performances by the much-improved sophomore class and dominating freshman class, culminating in a third place finish in the New England Division III Championship.
The only blemish of the Engineer’s season came with a loss against the alumni in the annual exhibition meet in January. With one of the largest margins of victory since the inception of the meet in 1974, the alumni won 11 of the 14 events on their way to a victory for the second straight year. The foursome of Zachary J. Traina ’05, David A. Blau ’06, Thaddeus J. Wozniak ’06, and Richard F. Rajter ’03 set the meet record in winning the 4x200-meter relay for the alumni. The 22.78-second freshman record of Stephen A. Morton ’10 in the 200-meter dash was the highlight of the meet for the varsity team even though Morton had to settle for second place behind Traina.
Victories over Bates College and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy righted the ship after the alumni annihilation, setting up a victory over Williams College in the quad meet with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Westfield State College. In a battle between Williams College’s quality (winning 11 events) and MIT’s depth, the depth won out. In the final field event, MIT took five of the top eight triple jumpers to close out the meet. For those alumni who can remember the noise level of the battles against Tufts in the early to mid ’80s, this one was very similar. Overall, 31 season bests were set with 29 different athletes contributing to the scoring.
MIT finished their regular season undefeated with an amazing victory over favored Tufts at Bowdoin College’s track, defeating Springfield College, Bowdoin College, and Colby College in the process as well. Morton set a new freshman record in the triple jump (45’4¼”) as the horizontal jumpers put the meet away for the second week in a row. Going into the New England Division III Championship in mid February, MIT was seeded fourth behind Williams, Tufts, and Springfield. Nine personal bests later, the Engineers succeeded in improving upon their seed with a third place finish. Morton raised his triple jump freshman record with a 45’10½” effort on his final jump to earn third place, adding to his second place finish in the 200-meter and fifth place in the long jump. The only victories for Tech came towards the end of the meet in the distance medley relay, made up of Jeremiah R. “Yermie” Cohen ’09, Alex G. Rothberg ’09, Archimedes C. Stuk ’10, and Hemagiri Arumugam ’10, and in the 4x800-meter relay, comprised of William S. Phipps ’10, Jacob J. Ruzevick ’09, Peter J. Mulligan ’08, and Matthew F. Bieniosek ’09.
Outdoor team wins seventh straight NEWMAC title
Making the transition to the outdoor track proved especially difficult this year, with rain falling what seemed to be every day. For the first time 25 years, MIT was forced to cancel an outdoor meet: the Engineers Cup against RPI and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
MIT won the five-way home meet against Bates, Colby, the University of Southern Maine, and Colby-Sawyer College in April, and finished the regular season at home the following weekend in the annual Spring Invitational. Morton and Anthony D. Teixeira ’08 led the way to victory in the first meet, with Morton setting two more freshman records (10.88 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 21.91 seconds in the 200-meter dash). William B. Fedus ’10 also earned a freshman record, taking down the long standing 400-meter mark with a 50.07-second performance, although Morton passed him a week later with a time of 49.02 seconds.
Going into the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference Championship, MIT trailed Springfield as the favorite despite having a much improved team compared to last year’s winning squad. The domination of having nine 5K runners under 16:00 and six under 33:00 in the 10K provided the necessary strength to sweep both events, earning 58 points of the team’s total 247. Morton was named NEWMAC Male Athlete of the Year after a nearly perfect meet, winning four events and placing second in another. The Engineers came out victorious for the seventh time in a row, and eighth overall out of the nine championships held since the inception of the conference.
The New England Division III Championship was yet another week where MIT was the underdog, and it would have taken a perfect performance to defeat Springfield and Tufts. MIT faced a deficit early, slowly working itself back into contention by placing second through fifth in the 10K. Gregory D. Tao ’08 earned the only victory for MIT by vaulting 14’10”, while Morton and Teixeira both scored personal bests in the 110 high hurdles, finishing fifth and sixth respectively.
Although the Engineers were producing great marks across many of the events, the mistake of entering Morton in too many events for the second week in a row cast a shadow on the overall team performance. Morton tweaked his hamstring at the end of the 100-meter dash, preventing him from triple jumping or running the 200-meter dash, events in which he would have certainly scored well.
The following week, a few MIT athletes made the trip to Dartmouth College for the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletics Association Championship. Omari S. Stephens ’08 (also Tech associate photo editor) scored in his second straight All New England Championship by vaulting to a personal record of 15’4½”, good for third place. Stephen Morton was back to good form, setting a personal best of 46’4” for sixth place in the triple jump. Cohen placed fourth in the 1,500-meter race, continuing his string of personal bests after winning the event at NEWMACs.
In the final week of the season, MIT hosted a Last Chance Qualifier to enable those in the region close to qualifying for the NCAA Championship to have another opportunity. Stephens took advantage of this, clearing a new personal best of 15’7¼” to provisionally qualify for Nationals. Even though he, Morton, and Eric A. Khatchadourian ’07 all qualified provisionally, none of them made the selected national field.
With only five graduating seniors and a talented group of incoming freshmen, the MIT men’s track and field team should see continued improvement in 2007–08.
Fletcher A. Brooks is the head coach of men’s track and field team.