NEW YORK, N.Y. – With a focus on improving a few individual qualifying marks in the final meet before the National Championship, the MIT men's and women's track & field teams traveled to New York for the ECAC Division III Championship over the weekend. A number of individuals met and exceeded expectations and the teams were also able to score well at the meet, with the women taking fifth out of 47 teams and the men placing 37th overall.
Karin Fisher and the rest of the Tech pole vaulters, started the weekend off for the Cardinal and Gray with an incredible overall performance. Fisher and Moravian's Abigail Schaffer put on an impressive display for the second time this season, as both made outstanding efforts to clear the bar at 13-6.25 feet. Fisher avenged an earlier defeat to Schaffer, taking first place in the event based on attempts. Fisher's height set a new program record and is tied for the best mark in Division III on the season, just a week from the NCAA Division III Indoor National Championship. Fisher's teammates, Lauren Kuntz (seventh) and Hazel Briner (eighth) were also solid, as both vaulted 11-6.50 feet. On the men's side, Nathan Peterson took third overall with a vault of 16-5.25 feet, a personal record and the second best mark in Institute history. Peterson currently stands eighth on the NCAA Division III performance list.
Anna Holt-Gosselin continued the positive momentum on Friday, running 17:09.93 in the 5,000 meters, good for fifth place and an NCAA provisional qualifying standard. The New York Armory track was extremely fast, as the top five runners all moved into the top eight on the national list, with Holt-Gosselin currently eighth in Division III.
In the preliminaries of the 55-meter hurdles, three Tech runners would place among the top nine overall, with Jacqueline Brew missing out on the finals by the narrowest of margins, just 0.009 seconds out of eighth. In the finals on Saturday, Portia Jones ran a blistering 8.21 seconds to win the event and establish a new National best for 2011. Amy Magnuson placed fourth with a time of 8.47 seconds, an NCAA provisional mark.
Jamie Simmons continues to perform well in the 400m, as the junior ran 58.48 for sixth place overall. That time was just eight one-hundredths of a second slower than her season best, which currently ranks 29th in the country.
The women's 4x400 meter relay capped the weekend with a tremendous performance in the second to last event on Saturday afternoon. The quartet of Simmons, Briner, Jones and Martha Gross battled the squad from Wheaton College in a thrilling race that came down to a photo finish. Jones, who anchored the relay, crossed the finish just 0.004 seconds faster than Wheaton's fourth runner, as MIT finished in 3:53.245 seconds. That time is an NCAA automatic qualifying mark and currently ranks sixth in Division III.
In the weight throw, Kenneth Cooper and Chinedum Umachi, who each sit in solid position to qualify for Nationals already, placed 11th and 12th respectively in the event.
Tech will find out which athletes officially qualify for next weekend's NCAA Division III Championship on Monday. The Engineers are in good position to send a number of competitors to Capital University for the Championship meet, which begins on Friday, March 11.