WATERVILLE, Maine -- The Bates men's track and field team won the 2013 New England Division III Outdoor Championships for the first time on Saturday, dramatically edging MIT by one point after winning the 4x800 relay race in record time.
Bates built an enormous lead midway through the meet but saw it dwindle down to seven points going into the final two events of the day, the 4x800 and 4x400 relays.
Bates' 4x800 squad -- senior Nick Barron (Kirkwood, Mo.), sophomore John Stansel (Newburyport, Mass.), senior James LePage (Cumberland, Maine) and junior Mark McCauley (Cumberland, Maine) -- not only won the second of two heats with its time of 7:41.10, but also set the NED3 meet record and Bates' program record. Bowdoin won the first heat in 7:41.86 and finished second overall, while MIT trailed Bates for second place in the second heat, and third place overall, in 7:50.89, increasing the Bobcats' team points lead over the Engineers to 11. That sealed the win for Bates, as MIT could score no more than 10 points in the 4x400 and Bates could score no less than zero -- which is precisely what happened, as MIT won that race to come within a point of Bates' final tally, 144 to 143.
Tufts was a distant third place with 71, with Williams (60) and Coast Guard (46) rounding out the top five.
Bates built its enormous lead powered by event-winning performances Friday in the decathlon, hammer throw, and 10,000 meters, and carrying over into wins early in the day Saturday. Senior David Pless (Atlanta, Ga.) broke meet and team records for the second straight day, this time with his top effort of 180-8 in the discus throw, while sophomore teammate Sean Enos (Lynnfield, Mass.) finished second in the event with a personal record of his own, at 167-3. Pless owned the former team record in the discus, at 175-9.
Soon after Bates' 1-2 in the discus, junior Mike Martin (Slatersville, R.I.) surged to pass Tufts' Ben Wallis down the final 100-meter stretch of the 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning in a personal record time of 9:06.19, lifting him into fourth place on Bates' all-time performance list in the event. Senior Andrew Wortham (Newton, Mass.) took sixth place in 9:14.54.
The Bobcats also continued to pick up points in somewhat unexpected places throughout the day -- each one turning out to be crucial, as things unfolded. Junior John Wisener (Ridgewood, N.J.) took second place in the pole vault, four places higher than his seeding going in, with a personal-record height of 15-3. The 4x100 relay team of first-year Jia-Ahn Pan (Kuching, Malaysia), senior Tim Woods (Westfield, N.J.), junior Adam Spencer (Wellesley, Mass.) and sophomore Isaiah Spofford (Waterville, Maine) picked up two points with its seventh-place time of 43.07 seconds.
Pless scored 30 points in the meet for the second year in a row when he added the shot put to his sweep of New England titles. He won the shot put at 59-9.75, setting both meet and facility records in the event, even though it was the one event in which he didn't set a personal or team record. Incredibly, Enos again followed suit with a PR of his own and second place in the shot put, at 53-11.25, finishing the meet with 21 points.
Other key performances and highlights on Bates' remarkable day:
- The 5,000-meter race played an enormous factor, with the Bobcats outscoring MIT 13-6 in the one event. Junior Noah Graboys (Glencoe, Ill.) placed second in 14:47.00, while senior Ken Whitney (West Hartford, Conn.) took fourth in 14:54.34.
- Barron finished third in the 1,500 meters, in 3:51.46.
- Junior Jarret McKallagat (Atkinson, N.H.) placed fourth in the 110 hurdles, in a personal record of 14.93 seconds. Senior David Hardison (South Portland, Maine) took fifth place in 15.33, a day after winning the decathlon.
- LePage finished fourth in the 800, at 1:52.42.
Bates' former 4x800 record of 7:41.87 was set in 2010 by Troy Calandra, Peter Corcoran, Barron and LePage.
In the second day of limited action at the meet, Bates won three event titles and scored a whopping 42 points.
Pless became the first Bates man to throw the hammer over 200 feet, winning his second straight NED3 title in the event with a top mark of 201-11. Former teammate Chris Murtagh ’11 set the former record of 197-2 in 2011. Pless won the event last year with a mark of He easily beat his winning toss of 187-9 last year. Springfield’s John Dayton was runner-up with a toss of 185-05.
Hardison concluded Day 2 of the decathlon with the New England title, scoring 6,308 points to hold off Coast Guard’s Clay Kosack (6,167) and Worcester State’s Jason Sliwoski (6,068). Hardison finished fourth in the event a year ago. He topped the 10-man field in the 110-meter hurdles, with a time of 15.83, and was third in the discus throw (111-9).
Junior Tully Hannan (West Hartford, Conn.) won the 10,000-meter run by about four seconds in 31 minutes, 20.92 seconds. MIT’s Roy Wedge took second in 31:24.53. Senior Eric Kimball (Manchester, Mass.) finished seventh in the 10,000 meters, in 31:49.47.
Enos finished fourth in the hammer, also recording a new personal best at 175-5. Sophomore Eric Wainman (Glastonbury, Conn.) finished fourth in the decathlon, with 5,904 points. Wainman finished second only to Hardison in the 110-meter hurdles, at 16.19, and was fourth in the 1,500 meters, at 4:31.69.
The Bobcats compete this Friday and Saturday at all-divisions Open New Englands, at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass.