Men’s track: New England Champions

Adversity brings out the best in the Williams College men’s track and field team. Trailing by over 20 points early in the meet to arch rival MIT, the Ephs stormed back with some clutch performances to capture their eighth straight Division III New England Championship. The top four team scores were Williams, 103.5; MIT, 86; Wheaton College, 68; Amherst College, 62.

After some early disappointments, the turning point for Williams came with sophomore Jason Mirach’s performance in the triple jump. On his very first attempt Mirach posted a personal best and led the competition until the sixth and final round. On their sixth jumps, Sastry of MIT and Wong of Tufts both bested Mirach’s performance. On his final attempt, the last of the competition, Mirach exploded to another personal record jump of 45 feet _ inch to take first place. The jump was a nearly a foot and a half longer than his previous best coming into the meet.

The success in the triple jump inspired the Ephs, as did the 400-meter dash, which occurred shortly thereafter. After having barely qualified for the finals, senior Trevor Bayliss used his trademark fast start to finish a surprising second in a personal best time of 50.78 seconds. Perhaps the most surprising event of the meet for Williams, however, was the 55-meter dash. After a trial round and a semi-final round, the Ephs found themselves with three runners in the finals—Jon Pearson ’00, Chido Alozie ’01 and Valentin von Arnim ’02. Pearson, the sixteenth seed, was the first across the line for Williams, placing second in a season’s best time of 6.65 seconds. Alozie was next, placing third in a personal best 6.67. Von Arnim came from the seventeenth seed to place fifth in 6.70, also a personal best. The sixteen points scored by the Ephs in this event were far more than was expected.

An event in which Williams had higher expectations was the 600-meter. Coach Pete Farwell inserted his two best long sprinters in the event—senior Brian Hennessey and Kevin Reilly ’02. In a furious race, three men broke far away from the rest of the field: Hennessey, Reilly, and perennial favorite Bullock of Wheaton. Despite both running excellent races, the two Ephs could not hold off Bullock and placed second (1:22.26) and third (1:22.67 PR), respectively, to score an important 14 points. In the final sprint event, Ed Rossier ’01, who has carried the sprinters all season, toughed out a strong fifth in the 200-meter dash in a time of 23.21.

Other than Mirach, the only Eph to take home an individual championship on Saturday was senior Dan McCue, who surprised no one by capturing the grueling 5000-meter run. The early part of the race was a three-man affair, as expected, between McCue, Feldman of MIT, and Danahy of Bates. At about the halfway point, Feldman fell off the pace. McCue and Danahy then battled until the penultimate lap, when McCue broke away convincingly. His winning time of 14:51.20 is an NCAA provisional qualifying mark. The 3000-meter run was also a big event for Williams, as two Ephs placed in the top four. Sophomore Tim Campbell ran a remarkable race, staying right with the exceptional Mitchell of Amherst before finally succumbing in the final 60 meters. His second place time of 8:31.94 was his personal record and one of the best times in New England this year. Senior Tri-captain Paul Alsdorf placed fourth in 8:34.63. The Ephs also picked up precious points in the 1000-meter run. Senior Yuneng Li placed fourth in 2:32.66, followed closely by Jay Slowik ’99, who placed fifth with a 2:33.55 personal best.

In field event action, senior Tri-captain David Stuhlsatz placed third in the shot put with a throw of 51’ 5 _ “, and first-year Malcolm Perry earned All-New England honors by tying for fifth in the pole vault, clearing 13 feet.

Williams clinched the championship with strong performances in the relays, which were composed mainly of athletes who had already run multiple races. The first relay was the distance medley, and the team of Slowik, Eric Getty ’02, Bayliss, and Jeff Edmonds ’99 came through with a third place finish with a time of 10:31. With two events remaining, Williams led MIT by 11.5 points, which meant that if the 4 x 400 meter relay team could finish ahead of MIT the Ephs would win. The squad of Tri-captain Aaron DeCamp ’99, von Arnim, Reilly, and Rossier did just that, placing second in 3:25.65, clinching the championship. It would have been easy for the 4 x 800 meter relay team to relax, but Clifton Covington ’01, Campbell, Li, and Hennessey did not, placing a strong fourth in 8:07.

With the latest championship secured, a number of Ephs look forward to more exciting post-season action. Next up is the New England Open Championships, featuring the region’s best athletes in Divisions I, II, and III. A select group of Ephs will make their way to Boston University for the meet next Friday and Saturday.