Men’s track garners relay All-American title at Div. IIIs

Men’s track and field traveled to the NCAA Div. III Championship hosted by Capital in Columbus, Ohio, this weekend. Williams finished in a tie for 29th place with six points. The finish placed the men third out of the NESCAC schools competing, behind Amherst in sixth and Bates in seventh. The men from North Central narrowly won the championship with a score of 45 points.
Co-captain Isaac Nicholson ’11 was the first Eph to compete in the meet. Nicholson got off to a strong start in the pentathlon by setting a personal best 8.10-second result in the 55-meter hurdles. However, a near-personal best in the 1000 meter and solid marks in the long jump and triple jump could not make up for a series of short shotput throws. Nicholson’s total score of 3398 placed him 11th in the competition.

“Nationals was a great experience and I’m truly grateful for having had the opportunity to go,” Nicholson said.“There’s a lot of nervous energy surrounding the meet and sometimes it can get the best of you … When everyone is as good as they are on the national level, you can’t afford to make little mistakes.”

Taylor Fitzgerald ’11, Chris Fogler ’13, Rich Fusco ’12 and Jabulani Blyden ’13, the other four men who qualified for Nationals, combined their efforts in the 4×400 relay. Fitzgerald powered his way to first going into the handoff on the opening leg of the second heat, splitting the fastest time of all opening legs at the meet. Fogler maintained the Ephs’ lead and passed the baton to Fusco with the Williams relay squad still in first. Despite the fast time Fusco ran for his leg, he handed the baton to the anchor leg in a near tie for the lead. The men’s hopes to be named All-Americans rested on Blyden’s performance. He nearly held off his challengers for the remaining 400 meters, but the anchor from Wisconsin-Stevens Point passed him at the line. After the third and final heat, the men’s relay earned third overall and garnered All-American status. The result was particularly impressive given the injuries sustained to the men’s typical relay runners in the 4×4. Tomas Kearney ’11, Viktor Nagy ’12 and Nehemiah Paramore ’14, have all been injured at different points in the indoor season.

“The 4×4 ran a great race,” Nicholson said. “Chris Fogler … turned out to be the missing piece that the relay needed to get to Nationals. He ran a spirited second leg and was instrumental in setting the team up for a strong finish.”

The indoor season concluded with the end of Div. III NCAA Championships, so the men now look to the outdoor season. In the sprints, Williams will be bolstered by the four members who competed at the NCAA meet: Fitzgerald, Fogler, Fusco and Blyden. In addition to the sprints, Blyden will also compete in the hurdle races and will be joined by Matt Sullivan ’11. The 2011 season will be the first time Sullivan has competed outdoors in two years. Fogler is set to compete in the decathlon and individual events.

The Ephs hope to have the indoor season successes of Andrew Gaidus ’11, Will Palmer ’11, Josephat Koima ’12, Alex Rich ’13, Dan Silver ’13 and co-captains Dan Franck ’11 and Brian Cole ’11 in the mid-distance and distance events translate into a strong outdoor season. The team will also roster Anthony Raduazo ’12, Peter Drews ’14, Max Laberge ’14 and Paramore who are returning from injuries but hope to be healed in time to contribute points for the team this spring.

In the field, the men will look to Stephen Simalchik ’13 in the javelin and Rusty Cowher ’12 and Syvad Young ’13 in the shotput, discus and hammer throws.

Co-captain Steve Rubin ’11, Kearney and Nicholson will be depended upon to score the bulk of the team’s points in the long jump, triple jump and high jump. Johnny Ray Hinojosa ’13 will be the Ephs’ sole representative in the pole vault this season.

After a narrow loss to MIT at the Div. III New England Indoor Championship and a victory at the Div. III New England Outdoor Championship in the 2010 season, the men hope to reposition themselves as the dominant track and field power in New England.

“All in all it was a very successful indoor season, but as a team we aren’t satisfied,” Nicholson said. “We were nudged in the final relay by MIT at our New England Indoors Championship and as a team we are focused on avenging that loss. We have been working hard each and every day to ensure our success for the outdoor season, and I’m truly excited to see just how far we can go.”

The men will open their outdoor season over spring break. They next compete at the Trojan Invitational, which will be hosted by USC during the team’s training trip to Santa Monica, Calif. The team will then compete in their final event of the California training trip at the Titan Twilight Open hosted by Cal State-Fullerton the following week.

“The [indoor season] success will certainly translate to outdoor,” Nicholson said. “We have almost no lag time and get back to competition this weekend at USC against some serious Div. I competition, which will help push us to some great qualifying marks early on.”