Winning the 3000m, co-captain Peter Hale ’17 led men’s track and field to a 12th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships last weekend in Naperville, Ill.
On Friday, co-captain Tobias Muellers ’18 competed in the first four events of the heptathlon. In the 60m, he finished in 7.28, the third-best time in the field. He then earned second in the long jump with a mark of 6.64 meters. In the shot put and the long jump, he finished 11th and 15th, respectively, putting him in 12th with his strongest events to come.
On Thursday, Muellers won the NCAA Elite 90 award, which is given annually to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average at the meet.
Peter Kirgis ’20, Eliot Fong ’19, Tristan Colaizzi ’20 and co-captain David Folsom ’17 competed in the distance medley relay. Kirgis ran a strong opening 1200 meter leg of 3:06. He handed off to Fong in seventh place, and Fong ran a 400 meter split of 50.5 and handing off to Colaizzi in eighth place. Colaizzi moved up to fifth in his 800 meter leg, handing off to Folsom in fifth place after running a 1:54 split. In the final leg, the mile, Folsom hung with the chase pack until the final lap, when he kicked away and cruised to fifth overall, an All-American performance.
The Ephs were in 17th place at the end of the day. On Saturday, they competed in three events: the heptathlon, the 3000m and the shot put.
In 12th place after day one, Muellers ran a time of 8.86 in the 60m hurdles, a personal best. Returning immediately for the pole vault, he surpassed the bar at four meters. With just the 1000m left, Muellers was still in 12th and needed an incredible finish to reach All-American status.
Rising to the occasion, he ran a gritty 2:39.92 in the 1000 meter, breaking his personal record by eight seconds. The performance, which was second on the day, pushed Muellers to eighth place, garnering All-American status and scoring a point for the Ephs.
In the shot put, Magnus Herweyer ’20 showed promise. One of just two first-years in the field, he fouled on two of his three throws but managed an impressive mark of 15.65 meters, good for 13th place overall. Herweyer is poised to have an outstanding outdoor season, as he will have a chance to compete in the discus, which is not contested indoors.
The highlight of the meet for the Ephs was the 3000 meter. Hale finished fourth in the race last year, despite having the best seed time. He was seeded first again this year and went into Saturday’s race looking to avenge last year’s defeat.
Hale took the early lead, pacing the field with a 4:34 in the first mile. He relinquished the lead to a Colby runner for 400 meters before making an extended push for the tape with 1000 meters left. One by one, Hale broke his competitors. With 400 meters left to run, just one runner remained on his shoulder. He redoubled his efforts, gaining separation at the bell and then running clear by the final turn.
Hale crossed the finish line in 8:17.76, more than two seconds ahead of his nearest competitor. He ran the last 400 meters in 57 seconds, the last 800 in 2:02 and the last mile in 4:17 – the split in the final mile was a personal best for the talented distance runner. Hale is the fourth Eph to be an Indoor NCAA Champion and the first distance runner to win a race at the meet. He is the team’s first NCAA champion – indoor or outdoor – since 2010.
The 10 points that he scored raised the Ephs in the standings from 38th to a tie for 12th, where they remained until the end of the day.
“These past two weeks, this team has flipped a switch,” Head Coach Ethan Barron said. “This group was a focused, willful crew that went in with a purpose, and when they run with purpose and will, they can do some special things. I was impressed with this group’s ability to adapt and adjust to all the changes that accompany NCAAs.”
He is pleased with the team’s improvement during the indoor season. “We stopped waiting for external situations or variables to set us up for success and started doing it for ourselves,” he said. “If we can continue to build on that evolution throughout the outdoor season then we should have a lot of fun and post some solid personal records.”
The Ephs will next compete outdoors at the Aztek Invite on March 24.