Selinsgrove, PA – The United States Merchant Marine Academy men's track and field team finished third at Landmark Conference Championships Saturday afternoon in Selinsgrove, PA, just behind Conference Champion Moravian College and runner-up Susquehanna University.
"I knew going into this season that we were really going to have to work to stay at the same level we had reached the last two years, said Head Coach Greg Lott. "We had lost a lot of points to graduation and the difficulties of being at a service academy. The group we took to the conference meet was comprised of 16 plebes, six third classmen, one second classmen, and only three first classmen. This young group performed admirably and will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years."
The most impressive performance for USMMA came in the 4x200m relay where the team of sophomore Mickel McGann (Ocala, FL), freshman Jacob Weaver (Clifton, TX), junior co-captain Tyler McDaniel (Colorado Springs, CO) and freshman Thomas Duncan (Orlando, FL) made a statement early in the meet.
Mcgann led off the relay and made up the staggered start on the entire field on just the first turn. He gave up the baton with a commanding lead upon which each subsequent leg built. The crowd seemed to be in awe as the Mariners pulled away from the field beating second place Moravian by 3.51s and third place Susquehanna by 6.81s.
USMMA won the event with a time of 1:33.10; the fastest ever run by Merchant Marine on a flat 200m track. They surpassed the ECAC qualifying mark by a large margin, qualifying for the championships for the second time in three years.
McGann tore up the track individually as well, cruising through the 60m trials with a time of 7.22s. He then bested his own academy record in the finals with an ECAC qualifying time of 7.06s. The run placed McGann second overall to Susquehanna's Kwane Hale who broke the Landmark Conference record.
Mcgann's time also beat the previous Landmark Conference record as well as the USMMA record. This marks the third time this season he has broken the 60m academy record and now holds 14 of the top 20 60m runs all-time at the academy.
In the 200m, McGann also placed fourth overall with a personal record of 23.37s, which is good for number 13 on the academy all-time list. He also and he led off the second place 4x400m relay team which included Weaver, freshman Tomas Sanchez, and freshman Dylan Tack (Coupeville, WA).
The relay finished with a time of 3:30.54; their second fastest mark of the season.
The other members of the sprint relays also performed well individually. Weaver placed third overall in the 400m, dropping a full second off of his personal best mark with a time of 51.98s. Fellow plebe Tack didn't finish far behind, coming in fifth overall with a time of 52.44.
McDaniel once again stepped up his game when it mattered most, completing the tough task of scoring out of a slower heat, with a time of 23.70s. His sixth place overall finish came by obliterating his heat and running a lifetime best by .27s. McDaniel also barely missed out on the finals of the 60m, running to a seventh place finish and personal record of 7.45s.
He was held out of finals by teammate, freshman Alex Waterbury, who ran exceptionally well setting significant personal best marks in both the trials and finals. He qualified in the sixth position with a time of 7.38s and then improved once again running 7.33s in the finals to take fifth place overall; ranking him 18th all-time at the academy.
Senior Daniel Baxter had an absolutely stellar day. The coaching staff held him out of the one mile run, an event in which he could've picked up points, so that he would have fresh legs for the 800m.
The move paid off as Baxter took command of the race at the 600m mark, distancing himself from the field to be crowned Landmark Conference Champion. His time of 1:58.36 bested second place Sal D'Angelo of Susquehanna by 1.44s.
It was the fastest time run indoors by a Mariner in 13 years and places Baxter seventh on USMMA's all-time list. He ran equally well in the 4x800m relay teamed with freshmen Andrew Walsh (Granville, OH), Matt Venanzi (Marlton, NJ), and Gus Newkirk (Plano, TX).
Baxter took the baton in the anchor position with a 20m deficit to overcome. He nearly made it all up, pulling even with D'Angelo of Susqurhanna, but ran out of steam and was narrowly bested by a couple of meters to place second overall. The time of 8:15.36 is the fastest 4x800m run by a team of Kings Pointers since 2001 and the fourth fastest in academy history.
Walsh also had a strong performance individually in the mile run placing fourth overall with a new personal best mark of 4:28.55; good for seventh on the academy's all-time list.
In the jumps, the sophomore Pole Vaulters had a wonderful day as Trevor Brandt (Stevensville, MD) set a new personal best mark of 3.95 meters and Bryan Tischler (Fort Meyers, FL) tied his previous best of 3.80m. Tischler's second attempt at 3.95m completely cleared the bar but did not count as he barely brushed it on the way down; knocking the bar off the pegs.
The duo placed fourth and fifth overall, each scoring for Merchant Marine.
Faber's effort was his second farthest indoor jump and Kolbeck set a new personal best in the event. Both hit their best on their final jumps of the competition, placing third overall with a distance of 6.53m (21'5.25") and tying for fourth with a mark of 6.52m respectively; placing each of them 16th and 18th on the academy's all-time list.
Kolbeck also had a new lifetime best in 60m Hurdles coming in at 9.13s, dropping .14s off of his previous high mark. His time placed fourth overall at the meet, now sitting ninth overall in USMMA history.
Senior Jay Giblin (Petaluma, CA) was the highlight for the Mariners in the Weight Throw with a great personal best toss of 13.36m (43'10") to place sixth overall at the meet.
In the Shot Put, freshman Giovanni Sessioms (Alpharetta, GA) had the farthest throw by a Mariner with his second farthest lifetime throw of 11.77m, tying for eighth place on the day. Freshman Allen Ray set a personal best in the same event, placing 13th with a mark of 11.28m.
Freshman John Weldon (Houston, TX) ran a personal best in the 5K, finishing in sixth place to score for Kings Point with a time of 16:21.50. Fellow plebe Brendan Dooley (Hebron, KY) just missed out on scoring in the event, placing eighth with a time of 16:24.52.
The Distance Medley Relay (DMR) team of freshman Jason Black, (Sigonella, Italy), freshman Ian Helis (Carlisle, PA), sophomore Matt Pastuszak (Berlin, CT), and Weldon also scored for the Mariners running to a fourth place finish with a time of 11:25.41; with the first three legs all running personal bests.
"The teams showed a tremendous amount of heart and potential," noted Coach Lott. "Finals week commences on Monday and recognition is fast approaching for the plebes. Most of our young squad has never competed on this sort of stage. They were able to put these stresses aside and perform better than they ever had. Much of that is attributed to the outstanding leadership and example of our few upperclassmen. I'm so excited by both their performances of this weekend and the future of the program."
A handful of Mariners will compete in ECAC Championships on March 1 and 2 at the New Balance Armory in New York City. Qualifiers from Kings Point include Tack in the 500m, McGann in 60m, and the 4x200m relay team of McGann, Weaver, McDaniel, and Duncan.