Men’s track and field competed at the Div. III New England Championship at MIT this weekend. Over the course of the three-day, 22-event affair, the Ephs prevailed with 151 points and the New England team title. Close behind the men were host MIT in second with 147 points and Bates in third with 73 points.
The long jump competition on Friday night set the tone for the championship meet. In a field of All-Americans, co-captain Steve Rubin ’11 and Tomas Kearney ’12 came away with a one-two finish and NCAA provisional marks. Rubin’s jump of 7.26 meters ties the Williams record and is currently the eighth best in Div. III.
Co-captain Isaac Nicholson ’11 secured fifth place in the decathlon, which took place on Thursday and Friday. Nicholson recorded 5345 points. Jason Rapaport ’11 demonstrated his championship-season savvy, turning in a fourth-place finish in the 10,000 meter in a personal best time of 32:04.46. Rusty Cowher ’12, in his first of three events this weekend, threw a personal best of 47.20 meters in the discus, earning him fifth.
Going into the third and final day of competition on Saturday, the Ephs needed big performances in order to capture and retain the outdoor Div. III New England title. “We knew we had a tough task in front of us without Stephen [Simalchik ’13] and Taylor [Fitzgerald ‘11], so we fought hard from beginning to end,” Rubin said. Simalchik had a prior obligation and Fitzgerald tore his hamstring, so both men were unable to compete in the meet.
In the steeplechase, Brandon Abasolo ’13 improved upon his NCAA provisional time en route to first place, while Will Palmer ’11 won the unseeded section for eighth overall.
Co-captain Brian Cole ’11 and Josephat Koima ’12 followed the men’s success in the steeplechase with sixth- and seventh-place finishes, respectively, in the 1500 meter.
Jabulani Blyden ’13, Matt Sullivan ’11 and Chris Fogler ’13 rolled to first-, third- and fifth-place finishes, respectively, in the 110-meter hurdles. All three athletes ran personal best times, and Blyden’s performance provisionally qualified him for NCAAs. The men performed equally well in the 400-meter hurdles, with Blyden taking first, Sullivan earning third and Fogler coming in sixth. Blyden and Sullivan ran to NCAA provisional qualifiers in the 400-meter hurdles. Additionally, Blyden took second in the flat 400 meter, while Rich Fusco ’12 tied for sixth in the event.
“For the second week in a row, Jabulani Blyden showed himself to be one of the best athletes in the region, taking on tough fields in the [110-meter hurdles], 400 [meter] and [400-meter hurdles] and bringing home 28 individual points,” Assistant Coach Joel Williams said.
Johnny Ray Hinojosa ’13 vaulted to a personal best of 4.55 meters in the pole vault for third place. Cowher threw to seventh in the hammer with a personal best of 51.59 meters.
Kearney and Rubin returned to the jumping runways for the triple jump competition, placing first and third, respectively. Kearney’s jump of 14.69 meters was an NCAA provisional qualifier. Later in the day, Kearney claimed second in the high jump in a personal best of 1.98 meters. Rubin returned to the competition in the 200 meter, tying for eighth in the event. Nehemiah Paramore ’14 executed a gutsy race in the 800 meter, placing third overall.
The final individual event was the 5000 meter. Co-captain Dan Franck ’11 and Koima shut the door on MIT’s championship hopes with their fourth- and seventh-place finishes, respectively. Franck’s time of 15:01.32 marked a personal best.
The quartet of Cole, Dan Waters ’11, Geoff Rodriguez ’11 and Paramore teamed up to place third in the 4×800 meter, earning enough points to clinch the title for the Ephs. Last on the track was the 4×400 meter relay, in which Peter Young ’13, Nathaniel Sutton ’14, Fogler and Fusco combined to finish sixth.
“I was thrilled to see how hard our team worked to pick up those extra little points, and in the end it made a huge difference since we only won by four,” Nicholson said.
The men will next compete in the NEICAAA at Southern Connecticut State on Friday and Saturday.