Men’s Indoor Track and Field Impresses in Season Debut at Smith Winter Classic
Issue   |   Tue, 12/06/2016 - 23:19

After a lengthy fall of workouts, the Amherst men’s track and field team opened its season at the Smith Winter Classic. With nearly all of the cross country and longer distance athletes just getting back into training after a long and competitive cross county season, only a portion of the track and field team competed at the meet. For nearly all of the track and field athletes who don’t compete in cross country, it was their first time running in competition since the 2015-2016 season. And for the first-years, it was their first time competing in the Amherst uniform.

For the indoor and outdoor track and field seasons, athletes must meet qualifying standards for events to continue their seasons after the invitational season comes to a close. The most relaxed standards are at the New England Division III meet, which features only Division III athletes in the New England region.

The next standard is the NEICAAA standard, which is often referred to as “Open New Englands.” The meet pits track and field athletes across Division I, II and III against each other. The hardest standard to achieve is qualifying for NCAA Nationals, as a spot on the starting line at Nationals is earned by having a either top-15 time in Division III for individual events, or a top-12 time for the 4x400 meter or distance medley relays.

Many of the athletes didn’t compete in their usual events, using the meet as a “rust-buster” to open up their season. Short sprinters Jordan Edwards ’20 and Mayowa Tinubu ’20, along with Cornell Brooks ’19 competed in the 200 meter race. Edwards enjoyed a strong first meet for the purple and white, placing sixth with a time of 23.94 seconds. Tinubu followed Edwards in 10th place, with a time of 24.37 seconds, while Brooks ran 26.05 seconds to round out the Amherst runners.

The Amherst hurdlers competed in the 400-meter race, with Maxim Doiron ’19, Theo Bates ’20 and Yonas Shiferaw ’20 competing in the two lap event on the indoor track. The sophomore placed seventh in the Amherst debut with a time of 56.12 seconds. Bates and Shiferaw shortly followed with times of 56.22 and 56.64 seconds in eighth and 10th places, respectively.

The long sprinters, who typically run the 400-meter race, ran in the 600-meter race. Ermias Kebede ’19, who competed in cross country this fall, placed a competitive third with a time of 1:24.76, improving upon his personal record by nearly four seconds in the event, a dramatic improvement in the three-lap event.

Long sprinters David Ingraham ’18, Jay Drain ’18, Stanley Dunwell ’20 and Harrison Haigood ’18 competed in the event as well. Ingraham, a member of the Division III indoor national record distance medley relay, led the sprinters with a time of 1:26.11. Drain, Dunwell and Haigood came one after another, placing seventh through ninth.

Chris Butko ’18 led the strong Amherst charge in the 800 meter race, winning the event at this meet for the second year in a row with a time of 1:57.02, qualifying for Division III New Englands. Butko beat NESCAC rival Steven Yannacone of Williams, who placed second with a time of 1:58, with a strong final 100 meters. Shortly after Butko was Vernon Espinoza ’19, also qualifying for Division III New Englands, who placed third with a time of 1:58.51. Jack Dufton ’20 and Estevan Velez ’20 both had strong debuts in the Amherst uniform, running 2:00.43 and 2:02.62 for third and fourth places, respectively.

“Overall the team had a good first meet,” Haigood said. “Our large first-year squad showed good prospects for the future. We’re looking forward to a great indoor season.”

After the break for the holidays, the team will kick off 2017 at the Little III Championships on Saturday, Jan. 14, when Amherst athletes will compete against rivals Williams and Wesleyan.

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