CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Some of the top athletes in New England were out on the sun-soaked Steinbrenner Track on Friday afternoon, attempting to secure spots in next weekend’s NCAA Division III Championship, as MIT hosted a Last Chance Qualifier meet. Six MIT athletes were able to set new or improved NCAA qualifying marks while two Institute records also fell.
The highlight of the meet for the Cardinal and Gray came in the women’s 1500, as Jacqui Wentz ran a blistering time of 4:25.43, the fastest in the country on the year and shattering her own MIT record by nearly eight seconds. Wentz, who already owns the nation’s second-best time in the Steeplechase, will look add to her already impressive career resume at Nationals.
Portia Jones also set an Institute record in the 400m, as the sophomore finished one lap of the track in 55.83 seconds. That time moves Jones up to third in all of Division III. Including her spot on Tech’s 4x400 relay, Jones now ranks in the top 10 in the country in five different events headed into the NCAA Championship. Jones stands seventh in the 200m, sixth in the 100 HH and second in the 400 hurdles, in addition to the 4x400, which is sixth.
Karin Fisher had a strong performance in the pole vault, clearing a personal best 12-2.50 feet, a four-inch improvement to move up from 26th to the 14th best mark in the country.
On the men’s side, three Engineers were able to move up the NCAA performance lists, led by Mitchell Kelly’s personal best in the discus. Kelly had a toss of 163-04 feet, better than five feet farther than his previous best. Kelly’s mark is good for the second best in program history and moves him up to No. 22 in the country.
Greg Tao was able to clear 16 feet for the first time in his career with a height of 16-1.25 feet in the pole vault. Tao’s vault moved the three-time All-America performer up to 12th in Division III.
Stephen Morton was also able to improve upon his mark in the triple jump, with a 48-00.75 foot effort.
The NCAA Division III Championship will be hosted by Baldwin-Wallace College in Barea, Ohio. The meet begins next Thursday, May 27 and runs through Saturday. Both teams will look to improve upon their 2009 showings where the women had their first-ever top 10 performance and the men placed 29th overall.