Williams, Washington Lead New NCAA Qualifiers For MIT

February 25, 2018

The MIT Track & Field team took an extra day to recover from last week's New England Division III Championships, competing today at the Boston University Last Chance Qualifier, primarily a professional and Division I competition.  The extra day of rest seemed to pay off as numerous competitors had personal bests, and more importantly, competed very well.

Leading the way were the 800 runners.  Katie Williams '21, already owning the freshman records in the 600 and 1000 meter races for MIT, toed the line with teammates Margaret Trautner '20 and Bailey Tregoning '19, all looking for a time fast enough to make the list of the top 17 performers in NCAA Division III.  Williams was on the inside, so she knew she had to get out or get boxed in.  She succeeded and led the chase pack through the 200 in 32.  Trautner and Tregoning were within striking distance with the same splits.  The pace slowed a bit on the third 200 to 1:38 and Tregoning set up to pass.  Entering the final 200 Tregoning went past, but Williams did not give up.  On the back stretch Williams charged past and made a kick to the finish, running a freshman record and the fourth fastest time in Division III at 2:12.23.  Trautner screamed home in a PR of 2:14.08, the number 15 time in Division III.  Tregoning faded due to the effects of a lingering cold, but still ran a season best 2:14.86.

The men were up next and Simon Alford '20 and Nathan Munet '19 were both hoping for NCAA qualifying times in the 800.  Munet went out strong, splitting 27 for the first 200.  Munet had to cut his momentum going into the second lap as he mis-timed a pass on the inside.  He recovered quickly, but settled in through the second lap before moving into second at the end of the quarter.  He took another 100 meters deciding whether or not to take the lead, but then tried to bring it home.  Alford moved into second with 200 to go and took the lead in the final 100, winning in a personal best 1:53.70.  Munet also ran a personal indoor best, finishing third in 1:54.08.

In the Pole Vault both Makenzie Patarino '19 and Liam Ackerman '21 had personal bests.  Patarino cleared 11-10 to come within four inches of what it will probably take to make it to Nationals.  Jacqueline Ahrens '21 cleared 12-10 but did not have good attempts at 13-0.  Kari Stromhaug '19 cleared 12-2.  While neither PR'd, both showed they are ready to compete at Nationals as they are ranked fourth and fifth in the country for Division III.  Ackerman was the top male vaulter for Tech, clearing 15-3.  The freshman is approaching teammate Scott Cameron's freshman record of 15-5 1/2.  Raja Rajcic '20 cleared 14-3 1/4.

Continuing with the field events, Chris Washington '20 rebounded from his failure to score in last week's championship and jumped 6-9, a new personal best, and currently 14th on the NCAA list. 

In the Long Jump, Nneoma Okonkwo '18, already high on the NCAA list, moved up a few spots to sixth by jumping 18-10.  Haley Strouf '18 did not improve on her 12th seed on the NCAA performance chart.  Mac Gregg '21 jumped 22-5 1/2, but was no where near the 23-6 or so it will take to make it to Nationals.

The Triple Jumpers also saw some improvement.  Jasmine Jin '20 jumped 37-8 3/4 for a new personal best.  The sophomore needs another four inches or so to make it to Nationals.  Billy Ruschel '18, currently ranked eighth in Division III after his 48-4 jump, joins teammate Yorai Shaoul '21 (third) on the list.  Ryan Prinster '18 had his third strong outing in a row, jumping 46-5.

In the Weight Throw, neither Ariela Slutsky '18, nor Jon Fakkema '19 had personal bests, but both threw well.  Slutsky, currently 14th on the list, threw 55-2 1/2 while Fakkema threw 55-5 1/2.

The 200 Meter race is one where MIT was hoping to do some damage.  While both Michelle Menkiti '20 and Benton Wilson '21 ran indoor PR's, neither moved up on the list significantly.  Menkiti ran 25.31, which puts her about .1 second away from going to Nationals.  Wilson ran 22.08, which leaves him about .3 away from making the NCAA top 15.  Tre Albritten '18 also raced, but drew lane three, giving him very little chance to improve on his 21.93 from earlier this season.  He ran 22.21.

Chris Sweeney '18 tried to improve on his performance in the 60HH. He got out of the blocks and to the first hurdle very well.  He just did not seem to have the sprint speed between the hurdles as he ran 8.51, not quite his best.

The final event for the Engineers was the 3K.  Marissa McPhillips '20 and Katie Bacher '20 were trying to hit a national qualifying performance, giving them another option at the NCAA Division III Championship in two weeks.  Looking for 5:10 pace at the 1600, both runners nailed it right on.  Running pretty much alone up to that point, the pair started catching some fading runners in the fast section.  McPhillips ran a 77 and then a 79 and with 300 to go collapsed to the side of the track, unable to finish.  Bacher faded after 2K, more than likely not having a solid racing goal to keep her engaged when the going got tough.  She finished in 9:57.69, far from what she is capable of running.  McPhillips is fine and ready to race at Nationals.

Next week MIT will visit Tufts University for their Final Qualifier and their truly last opportunity to make the NCAA Division III Championship being held in Birmingham, AL, March 9-10.