Men’s track and field traveled to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, to compete at the Div. III New England Championship on Saturday. On paper, the Ephs were seeded to lose to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Engineers by 40 points.
Indeed, MIT’s performance in the pentathlon – the Engineers took the top seven places, accruing 38 points – and in the 600-meter run – first, second, and fifth, for 22 points – put Williams in an immediate 60-point hole. After five events, Williams was still down by 45.
But the Ephs shocked the assembled teams and spectators by climbing back, collecting a one-two-three sweep in the shot put and upsetting the 55-meter dash, the 4×400-meter relay and the distance medley, to tie MIT for the New England title with 150.5 points apiece.
The shot put was the first decisive indication that Williams was paring down the point spread. With one throw remaining in the preliminary flights, neither Dan Austin ’05 nor Caleb Bliss ’05 had thrown far enough to make it into the event finals. But both Austin and Bliss pulled themselves together on their last attempts, made the finals, and then kept throwing farther. Austin (14.51 meters) put for two places above his seed, sliding into third behind his teammates Trey Wright ’03 (15.98 meters) and captain Dave Fontes ’02 (14.70 meters). Bliss snagged another point in eighth place with his effort of 13.76 meters.
At meet’s end, while officials made final corrections and confirmations in the neck-and-neck team scores, head coach Ralph White convened a team meeting on the shot put Astroturf.
“We’re meeting here because we owned this spot today,” White told his squad. “And no matter what happens when the officials score this thing, you have proven how important every point was in this meet. You fought back, you turned in great performances and you have won this meet when no one expected you to come close.”
The Ephs kept gaining on MIT a few points at a time â€“ Malcolm Perry ’02 (4.42 meters) and Dean Carvalho ’04 (4.27 meters) took second and tied for third, respectively, in the pole vault; Kali Gairy ’04 cleared 6’ 7″ for fifth in the high jump; captain Dwight Ho-Sang ’02 (13.64 meters) and John Phillips ’02 (13.11 meters) both made triple-jump finals (to MIT’s sole scorer) and placed fourth and seventh, respectively.
Captain Jamiyl Peters ’02 won the 55-meter dash in 6.50 seconds â€“ a time low enough to qualify him provisionally for the NCAA Div. III National Championships at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio â€“ but Val von Arnim ’02 contributed critical points as well. Von Arnim had blazed through his preliminary heat in 6.62, the fastest prelim time of the day, and secured a spot in the finals immediately next to Peters. Von Arnim ultimately ran to fourth overall in 6.61, giving the Ephs a five-point boost.
In the 5000-meters, Wes Reutimann ’02 won the crowd and the New England individual title with his time of 15:00.68. Reutimann bumped and jockeyed for position in the tight front pack for two full miles, clicking off 4:48 in his first split and 4:52 in his second. When the leaders broke away, Reutimann was with them, staying in the background until three laps remained. Suddenly, Reutimann gapped the field by the length of a straightaway within 200 meters and continued to accelerate, closing his final 200-meter lap in 32 seconds. Second place was a full six seconds back.
Mitchell Baker ’04 cut another eight seconds off his personal best in the 3000-meters, scoring fourth with his time of 8:43.84. When he finished, he returned to his camp and put his warm-ups on again, but he didn’t complete his post-race cool down for another hour and a half.
“I was too excited about the relays,” Baker said. “I heard that we were cutting the lead down and the three relays were the only events left, and I had to be there. I had to stay.”
Shamus Brady ’04, Jeff Ossinger ’05, Zach Blume ’02 and Matt Winkler ’04 comprised Williams’s foursome in the distance-medley relay (DMR). Brady had already run in the 1000-meters, placing fourth in 2:32.18, and Winkler had sealed sixth in the 1500-meters in 4:00.75, but both Ossinger and Blume were fresh. Brady led off with the 1200-meters, passing off the baton in first in 3:14.
Ossinger put in a 53-second 400-meters, and Blume then clicked off a smooth 2:00-flat 800-meters. When Winkler started the final 1600-meter piece, Bates held a 20-meter lead and Coast Guard was on Winkler’s heels. Winkler and the Coast Guard cadet reeled in the Bates rabbit, and the Ephs’ anchor kicked away, stopping the clock at 10:32.73. Only Colby, running out of the first of the two DMR heats, had a faster time of 10:28.37.
Scott Farley ’02, Chuck Jakobsche ’04, Peters and von Arnim then won the 4×400-meter relay in 3:22.94, and the 4×800-meter relay team of Fred Hines ’02, Tim Austin ’03, Kevin Reilly ’02 and Chris Garvin ’03 captured first in their heat. Earlier, Reilly had run a second-place 1:55.49 in the open 800-meters and Garvin 2:31.22 in the 1000-meters, also for second. Hines took three seconds off his personal best, opening in 2:01, and Austin followed suit in his second leg. The team posted a time of 8:03.98, which MIT then bested in the second heat with its 7:55.64.
When the scores were in, and the meet tied at 150.5. The Ephs had risen to share claim to the New England title with the same rivals who had beaten them so soundly at home in January. Next week, Williams will travel once again to Tufts for the All New-England Championship.