Track goes to Nationals

Women place third overall; men take 28th

The MIT Men’s and Women’s Track & Field squads traveled to Capital University for the NCAA Division III Indoor Championship over the weekend and had a number of impressive results. On the strength of 14 All-America performances, the women’s team brought home a third place finish, while the men placed five athletes on the All-America podium en route to a 28th place standing. This was the third consecutive third-place result at Nationals for coach Halston W. Taylor’s women’s program, as the Engineers were also among the top three at this year’s Cross Country Championship and the Outdoor meet in 2010.

Hazel L. Briner ’11 got things started on Friday morning in the pentathlon. Briner entered the meet seeded ninth and got off to a strong start with a fourth-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles. After ninth (high jump), tenth (shot put) and 11th-place (long jump) results in the next three events, Briner stood on the outside looking in at All-America honors. She saved her best for last, winning the 800 race with an NCAA Championship record time of 2 minutes, 22.51 seconds. However, the win was not enough to propel her onto the awards stand, and she finished just 27 points out of the All-America level.

Later in the day on Friday, Portia M. Jones ’12 positioned herself well for Saturday’s finals with a pair of solid preliminary races. Jones qualified with the second-fastest time in the 55 hurdles (8.19) and third overall in the 400 (57.01).

In the final event of the night, the Engineers collected their first All-America honors as the Distance Medley Relay team of Louise E. van den Heuvel ’14, Martha M. Gross ’12, Jamie L. Simmons ’12 and Anna M. Holt-Gosselin ’11 finished in sixth place with a time of 12:01.83, just a bit over three-tenths of second out of fifth.

Nathan E. Peterson ’12 landed on the awards stand on Friday as well, setting a new MIT record in the pole vault with a 16-9.50 feet vault, which put him in a tie for fifth place. Peterson has steadily improved down the stretch of the season, improving his height by over a foot in the last two weeks.

The women were back in action on Saturday afternoon as three pole vaulters, along with Jones, Holt-Gosselin and the 4x400 relay would take part in event finals during the second day of competition. Karin E. Fisher ’11 led the way for MIT in the pole vault, finishing as the national runner-up with a jump of 13-4.25 feet. Lauren B. Kuntz ’13 and Briner received All-America distinction and earned quality points for the Engineers with sixth and eighth place finishes, respectively.

Jones went back to work in a pair of event finals on Saturday. The junior was placed in the second of two final heats of the 55 hurdles. Despite winning her heat with a time of 8.11, Jones came in just 0.01 second off the winning overall time — which came in the first heat — to finish in third place. Jones collected the ninth All-America honor of her career in the 400 with a fourth-place showing.

In the 5000, Holt-Gosselin was an All-America performer for the second time in the weekend with an eighth-place result in a time of 17:12.00.

The Engineers stood in third place entering the final event of the championship, the 4x400 meter relay, putting themselves in a good position to land on the awards podium once again. Simmons, Briner, Gross, and Jones posted a solid time of 3:54.03, good enough for fifth place and the third consecutive All-America finish for MIT’s 1600 relay.