Men’s track and field kicked off its championship season with a bang, charging from behind in the projections to snag second place at the Div. III New England Indoor Track and Field Championships, held at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. The team’s success was due to the efforts of a number of athletes who stepped up and scored despite having received lower seeds. Ultimately, Williams scored 132 and was only bested by MIT, who scored 138.
“In previous years, we had set goals to get a specific place, like second or third,” co-captain Bijan Mazaheri ’16 said. “This was one of the first times I saw the team go into a meet with a true underdog mentality, determined to give everyone a fight no matter how we finished.”
As the first competitor for the Ephs, Tom Riley ’18 traveled to Cambridge a day early to start competition in the heptathlon. A new addition to the team this year, Riley had a standout performance on both days, setting a personal best in six of seven heptathlon events as well as in the heptathlon itself. As the No. 9 seed, he blew all expectations out of the water by finishing second overall with 4474 points and closing in on the heptathlon school record of 4498 points, which was set by Reid Pryzant ’16 in 2015.
Chris Lyons ’17 again outperformed his previous bests in both the weight throw and the shot put. Despite not being seeded to score in either event, Lyons came up big and snagged four points for the Ephs. He finished eighth in the shot put with 14.05 meter and sixth in the weight throw with 15.71 meter.
Connor Harris ’18 had a huge day in the long jump. After fouling on his fourth jump, Harris flew on his fifth, jumping 6.77 meters and securing third place. He was seeded tenth , but ended up scoring a crucial six points with his huge personal best.
Co-captain Nolan Raimo ’16 had a day for the record books. En route to a fifth place finish in the final, Raimo set a school record in the 60-meter hurdles. He very narrowly edged out a competitor from MIT to win his prelim in 8.34 seconds.
Justin LeAndre ’18 stepped up today and secured a few points of his own. LeAndre won his 800 meter heat with a time of 1:56.67, a mark that would hold a scoring spot through the final and fastest heat. Alex Cowen ’18 also stepped up in a middle distance race to crush his sixth place seed and take third in the 1000 meter with a 2.5 second personal best.
The distance medley relay team had the biggest jump of the day, greatly outperforming what most people might have expected. Racing in the slower of two heats due to their No. 9 seed, the team of Lucas Estrada ’19, Ian Mook ’18, Luke Hinz ’17 and Kyle Kistinger ’16 finished with the fastest time of the day. They won their heat by over 22 seconds and beat the winning time from the faster-seeded heat by a little over two seconds. Kistinger, in particular, had a standout performance, running a 4:18 his 1600 meter leg.
“Nobody seemed to care what they were seeded because anything seemed possible,” Mazaheri said. “People couldn’t wait to get their turn to compete and feed the team hype. In addition, there were more injured/noncompeting athletes at the meet than I had ever seen before, which really added to the energy.”
The veteran sprinter duo of Katakyie Ofori-Atta ’16 and Manny Daring ’16 also excelled and came in as reliable scorers, leading the charge for the back half of the day. Ofori-Atta won the 60 meter in 6.91 seconds, just 0.03 seconds off his own school record, and took second in the 200 meter in a similarly impressive 22.33 seconds. Daring ran the fastest flat-track time in the 400 meter in school history, 49.97 seconds, to secure third overall.
The performance of the Ephs’s distance runners was also astounding. Mazaheri won the 3k and Colin Cotton ’16 took first in the 5k. Mazaheri won in 8:26.33 and just behind him was Peter Hale ’17, who clocked in 8:26.72. Liam Simpson ’18 was seventh in the race and finished in 8:34.37.
Cotton clocked a time of 14:55 to take first in the 5k. He was joined in the top eight by Griffin Colaizzi ’18, who came in fifth (15:03.33), and Ben Decker ’18, who came in sixth (15:09.20). Todd Ford ’16 ran 4:26.36 in the mile and captured second place off a big finishing kick.
The Ephs will continue forward next week at Boston University, where they will compete at the All-New Englands meet.