The United States Merchant Marine Academy men's track & field team nearly doubled their Landmark Championship total from last season increasing their score from 55 to 103.5.
While incredible performances were abundant throughout the weekend, freshman Chris Cook starred for the Mariners completing one of the best performances ever in the Landmark Conference. To start things off, Cook was victorious in the Long Jump by a full foot over fellow ECAC qualifier Kris Joint of Moravian. His mark of 7.06m (23'2") currently ranks him 20th in the nation and was good enough to break the longest standing record at USMMA. The former record by Richard Keller has stood since 1965. After winning the LJ, Cook took just two jumps of the six allowed to secure a mark good enough for third place overall before passing the remainder of his jumps in order to prepare for his sprinting events. His mark of 13.32 m (43'8.5") was also his personal best in the event. Cook excelled to an even greater extent on the track with two more individual event victories in the 100m and 200m. His championship runs were completed in 10.95 (100m) and 22.19 (200m), both ECAC qualifying marks.
The Mariners continued their sprinting dominance completing a sweep with an overall victory in the 400m as well. Freshman Tomas Sanchez ran away from the field on the home stretch with an outstanding personal best performance of 50.70 to defend his conference title that he won in the indoor season in the same event. Sanchez was closely followed by senior teammate Richard Shelest who was the conference runner-up with a lifetime best mark of 51.01. Freshman Logan Shatters also competed in the event although he did not make the finals. Shatters, who placed 11th overall, did however, run a great personal best mark of 52.60 to finish his season.
In addition to the success of Cook in the jumps, the rest of the freshman jumpers performed very well in those events. Freshman Bryan Tischler equaled his season's best mark in the Pole Vault with a jump of 3.95m to take 3rd place overall. Fellow freshman, Trevor Brandt placed sixth in the event to pick-up additional points for the Mariners with a jump of 3.50m. Freshman Ryan Faber competed after three weeks of absence due to injury and scored points in both the long jump and triple jump with marks of 6.37m (7th place in the Long Jump) and 12.35m (8th place in the Triple Jump). "Both marks were his second best of the year and were very impressive considering the time he had to take off to heal," said Head Coahc Gregory Lott. "I can't wait to see what he can do when completely healthy." Another freshman fighting off injury, Luke Kolbeck was only able to compete in the High Jump. He had a very gutsy performance through some pain and was able to clear 1.73m (5'8") before withdrawing from the competition. His mark was good enough to contribute and pick up the team points for 5th place.
Back on the track the senior Steeplechasers really excelled. In their last collegiate meet seniors Logan Swan (pictured) and Brendan von Koss ran outstanding races and outperformed all expectations to score valuable points for the team. Swan finished fourth overall improving by nearly 20 seconds with a time of 10:10.05. Von Koss dropped 11 seconds off of his best ever run, finishing sixth with a time of 10:27.95. Coach Lott praised both of his seniors, "I was so proud of the way these guys ended their careers. They both ran exceptionally well and can retire from the sport knowing that they gave everything they had in their last race and were very successful in doing so." Freshman Anthony Konecni also competed in the event placing 10th overall with a mark of 11:11.99 in only his second time running the event.
The 1500m also produced three personal best performances. Junior Daniel Baxter ran his best individual race finishing in 4:09.88, just missing out on scoring points, placing 11th overall. Sophomores Nathan Rogers and Thomas Routt both dropped nearly six seconds off their season's best marks to finish in 4:15.38 and 4:15.65 respectively. Routt also ran a great race in the 800m, breaking the 2:00 barrier for the first time in his career. He ran out of a slower heat and was still able to place 8th in a scoring position with his 1:59.86.
In their first time running together the men's 4x100m really team of senior Hunter Karass, Faber, Shelest and Cook was able to put together a solid time of 44.01 to place third. "I'm very excited to work with this team over the next couple of weeks now that everyone is healthy," said Coach Lott. "I'm fully confident that once the handoffs are worked out a little better they will have a legitimate shot at qualifying for the ECACs." The men's 4x400m relay team of Karass, Shelest, Sanchez and senior Kevin Young also ran a solid race to place third with a time of 3:25.43. It was the fastest this particular group had run together all year.
The throwing events also produced solid points for the Mariners. The best performance came in the Discus with a fantastic personal best mark from senior Aaron Benson with a distance of 38.53m (128'5") to take 5th place. Sophomore Richard Zyvoloski also scored in the event placing 8th overall with a mark of 35.61m (116'10"). Senior Ed Logan produced a second 5th place showing for the Mariners in the Shot Put with a mark of 12.56m (41'2.5"). Kevin Stapf threw out a third 5th place performance in the event group with his 56.64m (185'10") bomb in the javelin. Although not his best mark, it was still good enough to surpass the ECAC standard. Stapf currently sits 20th in the nation in the event.
"It was a heck of a day for the Mariners. The men are developing themselves quite a program. Each conference meet just gets better and better as USMMA just broke the 100 point barrier for the first time ever in the Landmark Conference," Coach Lott said of his team's overall performance. "More guys are qualifying for ECACs, winning individual conference titles and even flirting with births to the NCAA Championships. This is a wonderful group, who has really put in the work and are completely deserving of all the success that is coming their way".
14 men will continue their season in the quest for more Academy Records, ECAC marks and NCAA qualifiers. Next up is the Vassar Twilight meet Friday May 4th followed by the Swarthmore last chance meet on Monday May 14th.