Towson, MD – The United States Merchant Marine Academy men's track and field team placed third at Landmark Conference Champions with 96 points this past weekend.
With nearly half of their conference scorers at sea, USMMA was still able to climb up to third place in the conference; their best outdoor finish in Landmark Conference history.
Teams competing in conference championships included Moravian, Susquehanna, Juniata, Catholic, Goucher and USMMA, with the top eight places scoring in each event. Conditions were ideal throughout the weekend as ample sunshine helped provide warmer temperatures than the Mariners have been used to over the course of the season.
The most electrifying performance of the day came from Daniel Baxter (Cosxackie, NY) in the 800m. In a race that looked like it would be tactical with Susquehanna having three men in the fast heat and the ability to work together, Baxter did the only thing he could have done: get out hard and fast, instantly taking the lead in the hopes of burning out the competition.
His risky move paid off as Baxter exhibited his supreme toughness and hung on for the win over the charging Joe Quigley of Catholic. Baxter's time of 1:55.66 was his second fastest time ever as he successfully defended the 800m title he won indoors, earned first team All-Conference honors, and set a new stadium record.
Tomas Sanchez (Okinawa, Japan) also put on a show in the 400m, easily defending his title (winning the 400m Indoor and Outdoor titles in 2012). Sanchez cruised to an easy heat victory in the trials running 51.03s, seeding third going into Sunday's showdown.
Sanchez took control of the finals early and finished with a time of 50.15s, his fastest time ever in the open 400m. The real battle in the 400m took place in the fight over second place. Jacob Weaver (Clifton, TX) was able to hold off Peter Kerns of Susquehanna by .01 to finish as the conference runner-up. This marks two years in a row that the Mariners have grabbed the top two spots in the conference in the 400m, as Sanchez earned first team All-Conference honors and Weaver took home second team All-Conference accolades.
In the High Jump, Kenneth Pressey (Yorktown, VA) had an outstanding day with his second highest mark of the season to earn All-Conference recognition. After clearing up to 1.83m (6'0") without a single miss, he got his entire body over the 1.88m mark (what would have been the winning jump), but just clipped the bar on the way down with his foot. Instead, Pressey finished just behind Moravian's Jonathan Heberling to place second overall as conference runner-up.
As usual, the Mariner relays had a strong showing, as the 4x100m team of Alex Waterbury, Tyler McDaniel (Colorado Springs, CO), Weaver, and Thomas Duncan (Orlando, FL) dropped a half second off their season's best time to qualify for ECAC Championships with a time of 43.51s and place second overall earning each member All-Conference distinctions.
The 4x400m relay team of McDaniel, Ian Helis (Carlisle, PA), Sanchez and Weaver ended the meet with a resounding victory. McDaniel, who had been pushing hard through an injury, ran with a lot of heart on the leadoff leg. Helis ran a lifetime best split of 51.1s before handing the baton to Sanchez.
In typical Sanchez fashion, he took the team from third, about 12 meters off the leaders, to the lead with his 49.0s split. Weaver extended the lead even further with his best ever split of 49.7s. The total time of 3:24.30 was nearly two seconds faster than second place Susquehanna to earn first team All-Conference honors.
The Steeplechase proved to be a great event for USMMA as they had registered six qualifiers. All six men ran lifetime best races as Brendan Dooley (Hebron, KY) and Jason Black (Sigonella, Italy) took third and fourth places overall respectively with times of 10:03.22 and 10:11.23.
Mason Fonseca (San Antonio, TX) just missed scoring as he came in ninth with a mark of 10:25.34. Nicolas Walsh (Dubai, UAE) placed 11th (10:30.46), Michael Dittmer (Burnt Hills, NY) placed 13th (10:39.54) and Anthony Konecni (Boise, ID) placed 15th (10:42.77).
Individual sprints went well for the Mariners with Waterbury placing third overall in the 100m, recording a season's best finish of 11.53s and McDaniel also making the finals with a mark of 11.75s, good for an eight place finish.
Three Mariners made the finals in the 200m as Weaver, McDaniel, and Waterbury finished fifth, sixth, and eight respectively. All three ran their fastest times of the day in the trials as the wind was more favorable. Qualifying times for the three of them were 23.33s (Weaver) 23.48s (Waterbury) and 23.62s (McDaniel).
Jay Giblin (Point Loma, CA) had by far the best showing of his career as he set personal best marks in both the Javelin and Hammer Throws. In the Javelin, he finished fifth with a distance of 48.31m and in the Hammer, he placed fourth with a mark of 43.15m.
In the Hammer Throw, Michael Pluhowski extended increased his personal best throw by over three meters to finish ninth with a distance of 32.75m.
Nathan Robbins snuck into scoring position in the Discus Throw with a new personal best of 36.36m to place eighth. Giovanni Sessoms (Alpharetta, GA) also set a new personal high in the Discus with a toss of 34.44m to finish 11th overall.
In the Shot Put, Ryan Pierson and Robbins finished 10th and 13th respectively with respective distances of 11.25m and 10.70m.
Pressey showed a huge improvement in the Triple Jump which paid off to get him into the finals and score for the team with an eighth place jump of 12.08m.
In the 1500m, Andrew Walsh (Granville, OH) ran a perfect race out of the slower heat. He won his heat and ended up placing eighth overall to score for the Mariners with a personal best time of 4:09.10.
Mitchell Boyd set a new personal high mark by a full two seconds in the 400 Hurdles with a mark of 1:02.71.
David McGowan (Clarksville, MD) and Jon Weldon (Houston, TX) just missed scoring for the Mariners in the 5000m and 10000m respectively. McGowan ran his second best time ever in the 5000m with a mark of 16:17.90 to finish ninth. Weldon ran the 10000m for the first time ever to finish with a time of 34:31.27.
"The team faced much adversity this year," said Head Coach Greg Lott. They came together as a group and performed as well as I could have ever hoped. This group has the foundation to be a special team for many years to come. I sincerely appreciate the leadership of the few upperclassmen on the team. They helped focus the group to step up in place of the team members that were not there with us. I'm amazed with this group and how they overtook Juniata for third overall being so shorthanded. I'm one happy coach."
Below is a complete list of USMMA All-Conference athletes for the outdoor season:
Tomas Sanchez: 400m & 4x400m
Jacob Weaver: 400m, 4x400m, & 4x100m
Dan Baxter: 800m
Kenneth Pressey: High Jump
Alex Waterbury: 4x100m
Tyler McDaniel: 4x400m & 4x100m
Thomas Duncan: 4x100m
Ian Helis: 4x400m
The men's team have already qualified their 4x100m and 4x800m relay teams for the ECAC Championships and were just .3s away from a qualification in the 4x400m relay as well. Individual qualifiers for the ECAC Championships include Tomas Sanchez and Dan Baxter in the 800m.
Several Mariners will compete this Friday at the Vassar College Twilight Meet in search of more records and ECAC qualification times.