HUNTINGDON, Pa. – This weekend, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's outdoor track and field team traveled to Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. to compete in the 2011 Landmark Conference Championships. With a 16-point improvement from last year, the USMMA men's track & field team matched its best ever finish at the Landmark Conference Outdoor Championships by placing fourth overall.
USMMA was projected to finish fifth at the meet as the Mariners were slotted five points behind rival Goucher College. The squad over-performed across the board and handed the Gophers a commanding 19-point defeat. Personal best and season best performances were abundant throughout the weekend.
"It was inspiring to see with all that our team has endured throughout the season. Due to licensing examinations, many of the seniors from our indoor roster were not able to participate in the spring season. Several others departed for their term at sea, plus construction at our outdoor facility started in March forcing our practices into parking lots, grass field and other venues that were far from ideal. Our men were full of grit and fortitude and continued with their consistent efforts. Their weekend was an outstanding culmination of their season efforts," Head Coach Gregory Lott said.
Brandon Barrett raced to a third-place finish in the 400m with a season best effort (51.71 trials, 51.07 finals). He was joined by two other scorers in the event from USMMA – Kevin Young and Hunter Karass who finished seventh and eighth, respectively. Young (52.26 trials, 52.94 finals) and Karass (53.08 trials, 53.40 finals).
Barrett can back after the 400m with a strong scoring run in the 200m, placing sixth (23.27 trials, 23.66 finals). Barrett also ran an outstanding third leg of the 4 x 100 meter relay, gaining multiple places on the field and putting the anchor leg Mickel McGann in position for his come-from-behind burst of speed that edged out Susquehanna for second place. Their time of 44.12 seconds was a mere .12 off the ECAC-qualifying mark.
The team's other third place individual performance came from Benjamin Sturtevant in the discus with a mark of 36.66 meters. Sturtevant participated on the varsity tennis team, which significantly limiting his practice time for the event.
Senior Garret Washington racked up the points for the Mariners with a fourth-place finish in the triple jump and two fifth-place finishes in the high jump and the 400m hurdles. Washington's marks in the both the high jump (1.78m) and the 400m hurdles (59.97 seconds) were lifetime bests. He also had a personal best mark in the javelin with a throw of 43.06 meters, placing 11th overall. Freshman Dustin Beck joined Washington in the javelin with an eighth-place finish of 50.33 meters.
While they just missed the scoring places, seniors Warren Tucker and Jerry Coleman-Dodson showed fantastic improvement in the 10k. Tucker's time of 35:17.64 was an improvement of almost a minute and a half in the event. Tucker finished in ninth place, while Coleman-Dodson crossed the line at 35:36.81, which was good for 11th.
Logan Swan showed marked improvement in the steeple chase placing fifth overall by a clocking of 10.29.20. His 17-second improvement scored valuable points for the team. Swan had an equally impressive run the prior day at 1,500-meters (his 4:17.57 was a 15 second drop off his previous best). Freshman Thomas Routt and Nathan Rogers both had successful efforts at 1,500m as well, running 4.16.47 and 4:17.32, respectively. Neither athlete had been under 4:23 before this weekend.
Routt's best performance, however, was his sixth-place effort at 800m running a PR of 2:00.57. "Routt was not projected a scoring place before the meet. However, the coaching staff had faith in his abilities to steal points in the event. It was performances such as these throughout the weekend that lifted our team to such a strong finish," Coach Lott commented after the meet.
Senior Ethan van Antwerp had another such finish sneaking into the scoring ranks of the hammer throw with a seventh-place finish. His mark of 38.23 meters was nearly three meters further than any of his previous efforts.
And finally, the meet ended with a season best run for the 4 x 400 meter relay team composed of Krzysztof Nowacki, Karass, Routt and Young. This squad ran to a third place finish with a clocking of 3:30.18.
Head Coach Gregory Lott and the Mariners will compete next at the SWAT Last Chance Meet at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pa. on Monday, May 16 to try and gain ECAC-qualifying marks.