CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The MIT men's and women's track and field teams will send a total of 12 athletes to this weekend's NCAA Division III Championship, which will be held at Ohio Wesleyan University beginning on Thursday, May 26. The Tech women are ranked No. 3 in the nation entering the meet while the men will look to duplicate their success from 2010, where they finished fourth overall, the highest in program history.
Coach Halston Taylor's women's program has achieved tremendous success this year, having previously finished third at both the cross country and indoor track & field national meets. The Cardinal and Gray has a chance to United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Deb Vercauteren Program of the Year Award, which measures institutional success across all three Championships.
The Engineers have nine women entered in 14 different events at the Outdoor Championship, the fifth most of all teams in the meet. They are led by 10-time All-America, Portia Jones, who was recently named the New England Track Athlete of the Year for the fourth time in her distinguished career. Jones will participate in five events over the weekend, including three individual events and a pair of relays.
The junior will begin her Championship on Thursday evening with the prelims of the 200 meters, slated for 8:00 p.m., before doubling up with a pair of preliminary heats on Friday, when she will run the 100-meter hurdles at 6:45 p.m. and follow up with the 100m an hour later. The finals for all three events, should she advance, will be held on Saturday afternoon. Jones is one of the favorites in the 200m, seeded third overall entering the meet. She owns the ninth fastest seed time in the 100 and is 16th in the hurdles.
Jones will also anchor a pair of Tech relays, the 4x100 and 4x400 meter squads, which compete in preliminary heats on Thursday as well. Joining Jones on the 4x400, which is seeded second overall coming in, will be Jamie Simmons, Martha Gross and Hazel Briner. The trials of that event will be at 9:05 p.m. on Thursday, with the finals scheduled as the last event of the Championship on Saturday. The 4x100 relay will be comprised of Jones, Gross, Simmons and Jacqueline Brew. That group owns the 13th best time coming in and will hope to improve their time to qualify for the event final, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Simmons will be nearly as busy as her teammate Jones this weekend, as she will compete in both the 400 meters and 400 hurdles, in addition to the two relays. Simmons will have a few chances to climb atop the awards podium, as she owns the second-best time in the country in both events entering the Championship. Hurdle prelims will be held on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. with the final on Saturday. The qualifier for the 400 will be on Friday at 7:15 p.m.
Senior Anna Holt-Gosselin is also entered in two events as she is the fourth seed in the 5,000 and is second at 10,000 meters. Holt-Gosselin will be the first Tech athlete to race in a final, as the 22 runners in the 10k will go off at 9:20 p.m. on Thursday. The 5,000 meters will be held on Saturday at 4:40 p.m., the second to last event of the meet, and has a field of 23 participants.
Perhaps the event where MIT has the chance to make its biggest splash is the women's pole vault, as three Tech vaulters are entered in the Championship. The National runner-up during the Indoor meet, Karin Fisher, leads the group as she is seeded third overall. Lauren Kuntz and Briner, who both landed on the All-America podium during the Indoor season as well, are entered in the event, which is scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday.
Briner will also compete in the Heptathlon, an event in which she has captured a pair of regional titles, throughout the day on Thursday and Friday. The scheduled heptathlon events for Thursday are the 100 hurdles, high jump, shot put and 200m with long jump, javelin and 800 meter run to follow on Friday. Briner comes into the meet seeded 13th overall but hopes to improve on that position to secure a fifth All-America honor.
The final competitor headed to Ohio for the women's team is former National runner-up, Amy Magnuson, who will join Jones in the 100-meter hurdles. Magnuson is seeded 17th in the event and will run in the first of three heats on Friday.
On the men's side, three MIT athletes will be in action, Paul Welle in the 3000 Steeplechase, Kenneth Cooper in the hammer throw and Vladimir Sobes in the javelin.
Cooper starts things off in the hammer, competing in the second of two flights beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. Cooper is the 14th seed coming into the competition.
Welle will run the Steeplechase at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, an event in which he is seeded 16th overall. Sobes who earned All-America honors in the javelin a year ago, will look to duplicate the feat beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. Sobes has the fifth best mark in the country entering the Championship.
Last year's NCAA Championship was the most successful in Institute history for both the men's and women's teams. Both squads landed on the awards podium, with the women placing third and the men taking home fourth. Tech also had a pair of NCAA Champions crowned, as Jacqui Wentz captured the national title in the Steeplechase while Stephen Morton won the long jump.