Men’s indoor track and field sent five athletes to compete in the NCAA Div. III National Championships at DePauw University, Ind., last weekend. Representing the Ephs were Connor Kamm ’10 in the mile, Tomas Kearney ’12 in the triple jump and the foursome of Kamm, Jabulani Blyden ’13, Brian Cole ’11 and Edgar Kosgey ’10 in the distance medley relay (DMR). Williams finished with a team score of 10 points behind fourth place finishes by the DMR and Kearney finished 18th overall. North Central College won the team title with a score of 52.3 points to follow up on its cross country national championship earlier in the year.
The action began Friday with Kamm running in the first of two preliminary heats of the mile. A hot early pace resulted in very fast times across the board and saw all six runners in the heat qualify for the 10 person final. Kamm came in fifth in the heat in just 4:13.55, a time which easily qualified him for the finals.
Kamm was on the track a mere two hours later, this time running the leadoff leg in the DMR. Williams qualified for nationals with Kamm running the 1600 meter anchor leg. Kamm and Kosgey, however, switched legs for the final. “While everyone felt most comfortable at the legs they ran when qualifying, we thought that by switching we would have the best shot to win,” said Mitchell Baker, assistant coach. Kamm’s split of 3:07 in the 1200 meter leg put Williams around eighth place. Next up was Blyden in the 400 meter leg, a distance he covered in 49 seconds before handing off to Cole in ninth place. Despite not having run an 800 meter race all season, Cole ran 1:55 to pass the eighth place team and nearly catch seventh. Taking the handoff in eighth, Kosgey steadily worked his way through the field before unleashing a kick to move all the way up to fourth and pull ahead of rival Amherst at the line. Kosgey’s split of 4:12 was the fastest of any anchor leg and capped off the Ephs’ tremendous 10:04.99 finish, just two seconds away from first place. In finishing fourth, Kamm, Blyden and Cole become first-time All-Americans, while Kosgey adds a fourth certificate to his combined cross country and track collection. All-American honors are awarded to the top eight finishers in the finals of any given event.
Co-captain Jeff Perlis ’10 praised the DMR team’s performance. “Those guys stepped up big time these past two weeks: first qualifying last weekend and then moving up from the ninth seed to finish fourth at nationals,” he said. Head Coach Fletcher Brooks was particularly impressed with Kosgey’s anchor leg. “For Edgar to move up four spots against some of the best milers in the country was just amazing,” he said.
Kamm returned to the track on Saturday to run the mile finals and finished ninth overall. While he just missed his goal of another All-American finish, Kamm still performed phenomenally at NCAAs, running three all-out races in under 24 hours. “While Connor might be a little disappointed, he’s still one of the nine best milers in the country, and seeing as this was his first Nationals experience in track we know he can improve outdoors,” Baker said.
Kearney took to the triple jump pit in the first flight of athletes later that day. Needing a huge mark on his third preliminary jump in order to make the finals, Kearney came through with a leap of 48 feet. This jump qualified Kearney to continue on in the competition and was only 7.5 inches short of his personal best. Kearney finished an impressive fourth place in a very competitive field, becoming an All-American for the first time. “Tomas had very high expectations, and it was great to see him come through when it counted,” Baker said. “It has been awesome to watch him progress as an athlete over the last two years.”
Williams’ 18th place team finish at NCAAs is a big improvement on last year’s 48th place result and bodes well for the spring season. “Having all five of our men achieve All-American status is a huge accomplishment,” Brooks said. The Ephs will spend spring break training in San Diego, Calif., while gearing up for even better performances outdoors in the spring season.