Strong Freshmen Performances Buoy Track to Fifth Place at Regional Meet

The MIT women’s indoor track and field team scored one of their highest finishes ever at the New England Division III regional meet on Saturday, accumulating 59 points to finish fifth out of 21 scoring teams, behind Williams (151 points), Tufts (109), Amherst (93), and Bowdoin (72.5).

“Before the meet I thought if we could get 60 points we’d break into the top five, and we scored 59 and ended up in fifth. Obviously top five was really a big goal, considering where we were a year ago at this time [13th place],” Head Coach Fletcher A. Brooks said.

One key to the team’s success this year was a strong contingent of freshmen, including Margaret C. Leibovic ’10, Amy R. Magnuson ’10 and Maria J. Monks ’10. In the 55m dash, Leibovic lowered her personal best and her own rookie record, running 7.63 seconds to come in seventh (championship meets score up to eight places per event).

Magnuson blazed to a third-place finish in the 55m hurdles, setting an MIT varsity record and setting an NCAA national provisional mark with her 8.42. Magnuson also scored in both horizontal jumps, coming in fourth and eighth in the triple and long jumps, respectively.

“Amy Magnuson was seeded at 8.81 [in the 55 hurdles] and ran 8.42. That’s a ridiculous improvement and that was huge. She also had to step it up in the horizontal jumps both times to score, and she did. In the jumps I just said ‘This is what you need, let’s get it done,’ and she did,” Brooks said.

Already in possession of her own NCAA provisional mark (achieved in the 5k at the Boston University Valentine Invitational), Monks made her contribution in the form of two relays, running the anchor leg of both the distance medley relay and the 4x800m relay. Monks’ 1600m split of the distance medley was an unofficial personal best at 5:07.

Another major point contributor was MIT’s pole vaulting squad, arguably the strongest of any New England team. All three vaulters — Emily Hwang ’09, Allison R. Brown ’08, and co-captain Christine Fanchiang ’07 — cleared 11 feet, 0 inches, which marked a personal record for Brown. Based on the number of misses before clearing, Hwang and Brown tied for fourth place, while Fanchiang placed second.

MIT was also able to garner some unexpected points in both throwing events, as Aline M. Thomas ’08 and Allyson Randolph ’10 both exceeded their seeds, placing third and sixth, respectively, in the shot put. Thomas also scored in the weight throw, taking fourth with a throw of 48-6.75.

On the track, events did not run quite up to the standard of the rest of the season, which has thus far produced five new varsity records. However, the three relays (distance medley, 4x200 and 4x800) produced excellent results, including an MIT varsity record in the 4x800 (9:41.68, seventh place) and a season-best in the 4x200 (1:49.97, third place).

This meet marked the last true team competition for the indoor track season, although some athletes will continue on individually or on relays in an attempt to achieve national qualifying marks. Next, the team is looking toward the beginning of the outdoor track season just after spring break, where the Engineers expect to be even stronger with the addition of some key outdoor events.