Gilson, McPhillips Lead Their Respective Teams at Boston University

Ahrens Crushes Freshman Pole Vault Record

February 10, 2018

The goal for the final weekend of competition prior to the New England Division III Championship (NED3), at least for the MIT Track & Field athletes, was to qualify for the NED3 Championship, improve their seed for that championship or qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship.

MIT was again splitting their squad.  On Friday and Saturday, most of the top oval runners would compete at the Boston University David Hemery Valentine Invitational, while on Saturday, many of the field event athletes would be competing at the MIT Gordon Kelly Invitational.

Marissa McPhillips '20 got the ball rolling for MIT in the 800 Meter race.  Racing in the eighth section the sophomore took control of the race going into the final lap. Running 33 seconds evenly per 200 she pulled away to win in a personal best of 2:12.90.  Racing in different sections of the 800 Bailey Tregoning '19 2:15.75, Katie Williams '21 2:16.38 and Skylar Brooks '20, 2:22.96 all ran season bests.

In the 1000 Meter race, Margaret Trautner '20 ran a near perfect race.  The early pace was solid through 400 meters (70.3), but then slowed to 37 seconds in the third 200.  Trautner was getting impatient with the pace and took the lead just before the 700 meter mark.  She finished the fourth 200 in 34.5 and added a 33 to finish in an excellent 2:55.87.  In a later section, Gabby Enns '21 went out too fast in the first 100, ended up in the lead, splitting 69 for the first 400.  She faded badly in the final 400, but still split a solid 2:26, showing the potential is there if she controls the beginning of the race.

In the shorter events, Hannah Chen '18 ran 57.77 in the 400 after having a lot of contact in the first 200.  In the 200, Michelle Menkiti '20 ran 25.92 to win her section while Chen ran a season best 26.09.

In the Mile, Katie Bacher '20 was in the one section that ran a slow pace.  All previous sections had gone out in 71 or faster.  Her section went out in 74 and then slowed to 2:31 amid a lot of pushing and shoving.  Bacher really had no choice but to take the lead and push the pace.  She ran 74 for the third 400 and then lost some in the final 200 as she just got beat at the line in 5:00.19.

Jenna Melanson '20 was looking to better her 10:27 in the 3K, hoping to run under 10:20 and possibly win her section.  The pace was perfect as they strung together 82 second 400's to come through the 1600 in 5:28.  Melanson was in a great position through 2K, but then started to doubt herself, falling off the pace to 84 and then eventually 86.  She finished in 10:24.56 for a season best.

The DMR started things off for the men at 10:45 p.m. on Friday night.  It was a definite reach for the men's quartet of Simon Alford '20, Benton Wilson '21, Nathan Munet '19 and Aidan Gilson '19 to be one of the top 12 teams in the country for Division III at the end of the indoor season, but certainly a possibility. Alford led things off with the 1200 leg.  He sat at the back of the 10 team field, hitting splits that he hoped would get him a 3:02 or better.  At 61 for the 400 it was clear this would not be a fast leg.  Alford moved up throughout the next 400, but still the pace slowed as he came through in 2:03.  With 300 to go he went wide on the turn to move into second at 2:32 for the 1000.  Going into the final 100 the wheels started to fall off as he went from second to next to last, handing off at 3:04.0.  Benton Wilson quite literally took off, running 22.5 for the first 200 with much of that in lanes two and three.  Again the decay in the final 100 took the MIT team from near to front to the rear in short order although the freshman ran 49.8. Munet did not learn from Wilson's error, so he did his own version of sprint to the front as he opened with a 25.0 and 53.5.  While the junior certainly locked up and went back to next to last in the final straight, he still ran 1:54.8.  The question was how much of the lost ground and opportunities could Gilson make up.  It appeared he went out very casually, but still turned a 58.6.  The pace of the group slowed, allowing Gilson to move up and still recover as he split 2:02 and 3:06.  Gilson passed all but the lead team going into the straight with just over 200 to go.  Accelerating as he went he put everyone in his rear view mirror with a 59 last 400 for a 4:05.4 anchor and a 9:54.23 overall performance.  Most years this time would make it to the NCAA Division III Championship, but with only the top 12 teams making the field time will tell.

Starting the day at 1:00 and finishing at 10:45 was a long day.  The women would come back to race the DMR at 10:00 in the morning and all of the men's DMR members would be racing throughout the day on Saturday.

The women's turn to run the DMR was the final event for the women.  The primary objective was to race to qualify for the NCAA Division III Championship.  Bacher was leading off with the 1200 leg after racing the Mile the night before.   There were 15 teams in the section and all very fast.  Bacher was hoping to run in the low 3:30's so running in the back of the pack with a 35.8 was a little safer than fighting with the other 14 runners.  However, the pace slowed and she had to move through the field.  She did this well but still wasted energy running wide and dealing with the contact.  She moved up to the top five at the end, splitting 3:37.2.  Hannah Chen took the baton, running too conservative for the first 200 in 28.3, passed one team and got passed at the end as she handed off to Bailey Tregoning in fifth place in 57.9.  Tregoning, promising not to go out faster than 33 at the 200, split 31.0 as she moved into fourth place with her sights set on second since UConn was out of sight in first.  Running 64 and 1:38 she was about to move into second when she stumbled and lost it in the final 100, handing off in 2:16.2.  McPhillips took the baton amidst traffic and even bumped someone pretty hard during the handoff, but settled in with the top four chase group, splitting 72.8 and 2:27.6.  She felt very comfortable at this point and probably should have moved then.  Instead she stayed with the group, splitting 3:42.7 before taking the lead and pushing the final 400 in 69.3.  Bowdoin College caught her at the finish line, but her 4:52.0 and the team's 11:43.54 are a lock for Nationals and a rematch opportunity.

The men's next event was the 800.  Both Munet and Alford were returning from the DMR.  Munet was first and looked very comfortable coming through the 400 in 57.2.  He made a strong move to get to the front but was not quite able to win his section with his 1:55.42.  Alford went out quite fast as his section had some strong front runners.  He split 55.6 through the 400, looking very strong.  On the next backstretch he made a strategic error, had to cut his momentum and proceeded to fall apart.  He finished in 1:59.09.

Chris Sweeney '18, finally totally healthy, was racing in his first 400 in more than two years.  He was seeded slow so there was less chance of him being bumped at the break or feeling he would have to go out too fast as he had been known to do.  He ran a perfect race, splitting 23.3 and leading from start to finish in 49.73.  Wilson, coming back from the DMR did not fare so well.  He felt he was unable to get himself mentally prepared after the DMR the night before, and it showed.  The freshman seemed totally uninspired with his 51.70.

Tre Albritten '18 ran his season best in the 200, clocking 21.93, which should put him among the top 20 in the country for Division III.  Wilson continued his lack of competitiveness, running 22.90.

Gilson was back on the track in the 1000.  With the goal to just win the section, Gilson let the field do the work while he sat back and observed.  After 600 meters instead of reading the field correctly and coming off the turn to pass the main chase pack he instead waited until the end of the straight, passing four on the turn.  He sights now on the leader, Gilson moved  up to the leader, taking the lead with 200 to go after splitting 1:57.  Gaining some initial ground he could not totally pull away, giving up the lead with 50 meters to go.  Finishing second, Gilson set the MIT record of 2:26.19.

Next on the track for MIT was the Mile Run.  Kent Slaney '21, coming off an illness, has been frustrated with his performances, but he fixed that with a vicious 59 kick to win going away in 4:19.39--certainly a step in the right direction.  Dylan Doblar '21 got caught up in trying too hard to run fast, and not staying relaxed as a result.  Shortly after the 800, split in 2:10, the fatigue from pushing started to show.  Nevertheless he held on well in 4:22.31.  Josh Derrick '20, still working his way back from illness, had another positive race experience even though he died a bit after his 3:15 1200 split.  His final time was 4:22.98.

The final race for MIT at Boston University was the 3K in which Brian Bates '20 would be competing.  Bates was looking to race well, hope to win his section and look for something sub 8:40.  Through 1600 meters all was excellent with a 4:38 split.  However, rather than move up in the field, Bates felt is was easier to stay where he was, so he did, slowing to 74 pace for the final two full 400's before kicking it home in 32 seconds for an 8:49.54.

Back at MIT there were a significant number of outstanding performances.  Jacqueline Ahrens '21 continued to shine, setting a new freshman record of 12-8 1/4 in the Pole Vault.  Also in the Pole Vault, teammate Kari Stromhaug '19 cleared a personal best of 12-6 1/4.  These marks currently have the pair at three and five on the NCAA Division III list.

Ariela Slutsky '18 threw a personal best 56-8 1/4, which keeps her in 11th on the National list.  Folusho Jebutu '20 and Elise McCormack-Kuhman also threw personal bests of 48-8 1/2 and 43-0 3/4 respectively.

In the Triple Jump, Jasmine Jin '20 jumped a new PR of 37-6 3/4.  In the Long Jump Nneoma Okonkwo '18, only her second meet back from injury, jumped 18-5 and added an 8.08 in the 60 Meter Dash, both season bests.

On the track Kristen Frombach '19 ran a PR in the 400 of 62.14 and Dhaman Kaur '21 had two season bests, 5:30.03 in the Mile and 2:30.01 in the 800.

For the men in the field events, Ryan Prinster '18 ruled the day with an impressive 46-11 1/2 in the Triple Jump.  Raja Rajcic '20 cleared 14-11 for a PR in the Pole Vault and Albert Menio '20 threw a personal best of 41-06 1/4 in the Shot Put.

On the track, Ken Acquah '20 ran a season best in the 200 with a 23.73.

Next week the men will travel to Middlebury College for the New England Division III Championship and the women will go to Springfield College for their NED3 Championship.  The women are three time defending champions while the men finished third last year after having won four consecutive titles.