March 11, 2010

MIT Track & Field Prepares for NCAA Division III Championship

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The MIT men’s and women’s track & field teams will travel to Greencastle, Ind. this weekend to compete in the NCAA Division III Championship to be held on Friday and Saturday at DePauw University. Both teams enter the meet ranked highly in the National polls and hope to achieve historic success at the Championship. The MIT women come in as the No. 2 team in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) rankings while the men currently sit at No. 7 in the nation. Seven women and three men will compete, as the teams look to improve on strong performances at last year’s National Championship, as Tech secured six All-America nods in 2009.

Leading the way for the MIT women is recently named New England Track Athlete of the Year, Portia Jones, who will compete in four events. The sophomore holds the fastest time in the country in the 400m (56.38 seconds) and has a chance to become MIT’s first NCAA National Champion since Doria Holbrook ’08 captured the women’s three-meter diving crown in 2007. Jones was the 2010 New England Division III individual champion in the 55-meter hurdles and comes into the meet ranked fifth in Division III in that event. Jones will also be a part of the 4x400 and Distance Medley Relays.

Joining Jones in the 400 is Jamie Simmons, who sits seventh on the NCAA performance list, with a time of 57.10. Simmons will also run a leg of the 4x400 relay and the 800-meter leg of the Distance Medley.

Hazel Briner is one of three MIT pole vaulters in the Championship, joining Karin Fisher in the women’s meet and Greg Tao on the men’s side. Briner will also compete in the Pentathlon, where she is seeded third, and will be a part of the 4x400 relay. Fisher’s season-best vault of 12-4.00 feet is good for the 10th seed in the meet.

Brooke Johnson, who set the Institute record in the mile as a freshman, will compete in that event, as well as the Medley. The final legs of each relay will be run by Martha Gross (4x400m) and Alina Gatowski (DMR).

In addition to Tao, Stephen Morton and Kyle Hannon are traveling to DePauw for the men’s Championship. Morton will compete in the long jump and triple jump while Hannon will run the mile race. A four-time All-America honoree, Morton was named the USTFCCCA’s New England Field Athlete of the Year earlier in the week. The senior owns the best triple jump (49-4.25 feet) and second best long jump (24-10.5 feet) marks in all of Division III entering the National meet.

Hannon is ranked 11th in the mile but his time is just three and a half seconds behind the top seed. Tao is currently No. 10 in the pole vault and has a good chance to repeat his All-America performance from a year ago.

At last year’s NCAA Indoor Championship, the MIT women finished in 16th place while the men finished in a tie for 32nd. Tech secured six All-America nods, as Morton (long jump/triple jump), Tao (pole vault) and Jones (400m) were joined by Amy Magnuson (55 HH) and Emily Hwang (pole vault).