Winning streaks serve to define greatness in sports. Statistics may be biased from era to era, depending on rule changes, but to win time and time again shows that a team or individual was unequivocally the best of their time. Starting in the early 1990s, the Williams men’s track and field team won 144 consecutive meets against NCAA Division III competition, a streak which came to an end on Feb. 19, 2000.
Like UCLA’s streak of five straight NCAA basketball titles or Edwin Moses’ 400m hurdle win streak which eventually surpassed 100 races, the track team’s incredible run could not last forever. So, for the first time in nine years and despite some impressive individual efforts, a team other than the Ephs hoisted the New England Championship trophy two weekends ago in Lewiston, Maine.
Although Williams finished fourth in the meet behind M.I.T., Bowdoin and Bates, the day was not without its bright spots for the Ephs.
The jumpers led the way at New Englands for the Ephs. Co-captain Jason Mirach ’01 put himself in contention for athlete of the meet by winning the triple jump and taking second in the long jump.
Mirach posted personal bests in both events, (46’ 6″ in the triple jump and 22’ 7″ in the long), obliterating the rest of the triple jump field by more than two feet.
Among Mirach’s victims in the triple jump was his teammate, Dwight Ho-Sang ’02, who, despite a controversial ruling which cost him second place, leapt to a personal best 44’ 1″ and third place.
The Ephs were not without a presence in the vertical jumps, either. In the pole vault, sophomore Malcolm Perry equaled his season best vault of 14 feet to finish third.
If any one factor can be blamed for the Eph’s first loss in nine years, it is the team’s lack of depth. Only two Williams sprinters made it through to the finals of their events, while seven made it through for the Ephs in 1999.
The two scoring sprinters were Valentin Von Arnim ’02, who took sixth in the 55m dash with a personal best time of 6.67 and Michael Schloat ’01, who placed fourth in the 200m dash running 23.20.
The Ephs were able to pick up more points in the longer running events. Chris Garvin ’03 got things started for the distance squad by placing fourth in the 1000m run (2:33.03). Reed Harlow ’01 matched Garvin’s place in the 3000m with his time of 8:44.64, and Shad Miller ’00 was the lone Eph to score in the 5000m, taking sixth place in 15:10.05. Garvin came back later in the meet to team up with Ravi Purushotham ’00, Ryan McDevitt ’02 and Jay Slowik ’01 to place third in the 4x800m relay (8:04.29).
Life goes on for the Eph tracksters, and this past weekend a few hardy athletes went to Boston University to compete in the All New England Championships. Again, it was the jumpers who led the way. Mirach took fifth in the triple jump, leaping 45’ 0.5″ and Ho-Sang came in ninth (43’5.75″). Co-captain Bob Blackstone ’00 also had a strong performance in the shot put, setting a new personal best of 47’ 11.75″.
The only Eph to compete in an individual running event was Garvin, who finished fifth in his trial heat of the 800m with a personal best time of 1:55.78. Garvin also ran on the Distance Medley Relay team with Slowik, Harlow and Miguel Fernandez ’01 that placed seventh (10:24.72).
With the indoor season all but over, the goal has been set: regain New England supremacy on May 6 at the outdoor championships. En route to the outdoor New England Championships, the track team hopes to begin another streak that will rival their run of the 1990s.