Men’s track upsets MIT for Div. III title

On Saturday, men’s track and field headed to MIT to participate in the Div. III New England Championships. Two weeks prior, MIT was the site of a humbling defeat for Williams; however, this weekend capped a dramatic turnaround for the men as they won the New England title in a dominating fashion. After battling illness and injury throughout the season, the Ephs put forth one of their best efforts in years to win Div. IIIs with a final score of 145. Tufts and MIT competed well but ultimately were no match for Williams, tying in second with 104 points.

Even with a stellar preceding weekend, the Ephs went into the meet as substantial underdogs to the Jumbos and seemingly locked in a battle with MIT for second place. That being said, the men traveled to Boston with the goal of leaving as New England Champions.

The competition kicked off Friday night with Isaac Nicholson ’11 finishing sixth in the pentathlon and picking up the first points for the Ephs. The rest of the events took place on Saturday and started with Steve Rubin ’11 far outperforming his seed, scoring a combined six points in the long jump and triple jump. Rubin’s distance of 44’11” in the triple jump was a 15” personal best. The Ephs once again exceeded expectations when the high jump saw Tomas Kearney ’12 and Eric Jonash ’09 also combine for six points, clearing heights of 6’3.5” and 5’11.5” respectively.

On the track, many athletes were asked to run multiple races, but fatigue could not slow the Ephs down. Taylor Fitzgerald ’11 teamed up with co-captains Alex Hoerman ’09 and Deividas Seferis ’09 to sweep the top three spots in the 400 and effectively announce that Williams came to win. The trio would go on to pick up valuable points in the 200 where Seferis finished third, Fitzgerald fifth and Hoerman sixth. Seferis closed out his final Indoor Div. IIIs with a second place finish in the 55-meter dash, his fifth race on the day.
With momentum on their side, the Ephs continued to rack up first place finishes. Viktor Nagy ’12 won the 600 despite being ranked seventh, and Rich Fusco ’12 picked up even more points in the event with his fifth place finish.

The distance events began with the mile, a race which co-captain Macklin Chaffee ’09 dominated to win by over two seconds. Brian Cole ’11 fought through illness to follow Chaffee in sixth place. The mile was the first of three races for Chaffee, who would not lose on that day. All told, Chaffee won New England titles in the mile and 1000 meter before also anchoring the DMR to victory in the first heat and a second place finish overall.

Other standouts in the middle distances included Edgar Kosgey ’10, who edged an MIT athlete by .01 seconds in his final stride to finish second, and Geoff Rodriguez ’11, who finished fourth in the 1000 meter race.

In the long distances, the Ephs again outperformed their seeds to pick up backbreaking points late in the meet. All-American Jeff Perlis ’10 finished a remarkable third place in the 3K despite being on crutches for his Achilles tendon leading up to the meet. Perhaps the crown jewel of the meet came just minutes after Perlis’ race, when Brendan Christian ’09 charged to a New England title over 5,000 meters. Despite being seeded almost 30 seconds slower than the top seed from Tufts, Christian’s surge at 3,800 meters left him well clear of the field for his final laps as he attained the title he had sought to win for years.

The meet saw a new level of enthusiasm and performance for Williams, as numerous Ephs ran, jumped and threw for personal bests in a field house dominated by supporters.

Dozens of teammates and alumni made the trip to Boston to see the Ephs bring back the New England title. Of the twenty events contested, Williams performed equal to or greater than its rankings in all but one, and in every track event save the 55 meter hurdles the top finisher for the Ephs was never lower than third place. This New England title is the fifth in six years for the men.

“The meet was a great team performance from top to bottom,” Christian said. “All winter everyone on this team has been training at a very high level, and it felt awesome to see all that hard work pay off when it really mattered.”

Div. IIIs marked the end of the indoor season for most members of the track team. Next weekend, a select few athletes will go to BU on Feb. 27 to compete in Div. I New England’s in hopes of qualifying for Nationals in March.