Thunderstorms and minor injuries could not derail men’s track and field as the team competed in the All-New England Regional Championship last weekend at Northeastern University. As the competition included teams from all three divisions, the pressure of winning the team title played a secondary role, and the members of the team were able to focus on bettering their personal times and marks for NCAAs. Williams was able to finish eighth overall, second among Div. III schools behind only MIT, which the team had defeated at Div. IIIs the week prior. Rhode Island claimed first.
“After two weeks of strategically entering people in order to maximize team points at the NESCAC and Div. III New England Championships, the coaching staff was able to focus on top performances, with the hopes of getting as many team members as possible personal bests and, ultimately, NCAA qualifiers,” Head Coach Fletcher Brooks said.
The team’s first points were fittingly scored by Stephen Simalchik ’13, who has yet to be beaten this year in his signature event, the javelin throw. Simalchek threw 63.82 meters for first place. Matt Farley ’11 then set a personal best in the hammer throw for ninth, just missing scoring by a scant 0.09 meters.
Corey Watts ’10 had an incredible race. The senior won the 10K with a flying sprint finish to break the 31-minute barrier for the first time in his career. The result not only garnered him an NCAA provisional mark but also put him on the top-10 all-time Williams list for the event. In the 800, Josephat Koima ’12 also ran to a personal best en route to second place in his heat.
Jabulani Blyden ’13 coasted through the preliminary round of 400-meter hurdles on Friday, taking second in his heat to qualify for the final on Saturday. He proceeded to win the final in an NCAA provisional time of 52.92, the fifth fastest Div. III time in the nation to date.
Blyden, Rich Fusco ’12, Sam McManama ’12 and Tomas Kearney ’12 combined to run the 4×400 meter relay. Their time of 3:16.26, which won their heat and placed the Ephs in eighth overall, is a NCAA provisional qualifier, but whether that time will earn them entrance into nationals remains to be seen.
“We had some really great performances at the meet, which is a testament to the hard work people have put in throughout the season,” co-captain Cullen Roberts ’10 said. “It was great to see Corey [Watts], Jabs [Blyden] and Stephen [Simalchik] all win Open New England titles while picking up [provisional marks] in their events.”
These strong individual performances bode well for the impending end of the spring season. “We feel pretty confident as we fine tune for the NCAA Championships,” assistant coach Joel Williams said.
The team will compete at the ECAC championship this Thursday and Friday at Springfield College in order to improve upon or achieve NCAA provisional marks before moving on to the NCAA championships from May 27-29 at Baldwin Wallace College.