Track and field competes at NCAA D-III championships

Women finish 10th, men finish 17th

The MIT track and field teams traveled to DePauw University in Indiana over the weekend for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship.

The women’s team came in tenth out of 61 scoring teams, the best finish in program history. The Engineers secured four All-America nods, as three individuals and one relay made it to the awards podium. Portia M. Jones ’12 and Hazel L. Briner ’11 each had an individual All-America performance in addition to their part on the 4x400 relay team and Karin E. Fisher ’11 also finished among the top eight in the pole vault.

Jones had a very strong showing in the 400 meters, an event in which she owned the fastest time in the country. She won her heat of the prelims with a time of 56.82 seconds, a personal best. She followed that up with a fourth-place finish, running 56.72 in the finals. Teammate Jamie L. Simmons ’12 came up short of the finals of that event.

In the 55-meter hurdles, Jones placed fifth in her heat (8.33) but missed out on the finals by just one-hundredth of a second. Jones and Simmons were then joined by Martha M. Gross ’12 and Briner on the 4x400m relay that finished in fourth-place with a time of 3:54.84 in the final event of the meet on Saturday afternoon.

Briner was also entered in the pentathlon and pole vault, two events occurring simultaneously on Saturday morning. The junior started off with, the 55-meter hurdles, finishing in fifth with a personal best of 8.73 seconds. She followed that up with an 11th-place showing in the high jump (5-0.50 feet) A fifth-place result in the shot put (35-1.00) and 11th in the long jump left Briner in fifth overall headed into the final event, the 800-meter run. Briner won the 800 to move up to third overall while setting a new MIT record for total points (3391).

In the pole vault, Briner was able to secure a 10th-place result while Fisher matched her personal-best by clearing 12-4.00 feet to earn MIT’s fourth All-America honor with a sixth-place finish.

Brooke C. Johnson ’13 was unable to make the finals in the mile run, completing her preliminary race in 5:03.89. The distance medley relay team of Johnson, Gross, Simmons and Alina E. Gatowski ’11 also finished just off of the All-America stand, taking ninth place with a time of 12:07.20.

The MIT men’s track and field team entered the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship with hopes of improving on their 32nd place showing from a year ago. Bolstered by tremendous performances by Stephen A. Morton ’10 and Gregory D. Tao ’10, the Engineers finished in 17th place out of 65 scoring teams.

Tao started off Friday morning in the pole vault. After clearing the first two heights, Tao made it over the bar at 16-1.75 feet on his third attempt. That height proved to be too difficult for all but six vaulters and put Tao onto the All-America stand with a sixth-place finish, improving on his eighth-place showing in 2009.

Morton entered the meet with high expectations, coming in with the top overall mark in the triple jump and was seeded second in the long jump. After a disappointing foul out in the long jump, Morton finished first in his preliminary flight of the triple jump. The senior followed that up by shattering his own Institute record in the finals, jumping 49-3.00 feet, just a half-inch behind the national champion, Chrys Jones of Centre College.

MIT’s other entry in the meet was Kyle J. Hannon ’11 in the mile. Hannon ran poorly in the prelims, finishing in 4:21.26, nearly ten seconds slower than his season best.