M. track sends squads to Texas, New Jersey

Though the men’s track team faced fierce competition down in the Lone Star state and harsh weather conditions in New Jersey, these obstacles did not stop certain Bulldogs from making big strides in their meets this past weekend.

The team’s top sprinters and jumpers traveled down to Austin for the Texas Relays, while the rest of the Elis stayed closer to home for Princeton’s Sam Howell Invitational. Although the athletes said the Bulldogs, as a team, did not perform as well as they had expected, particular individuals were outstanding. In the Garden State, Pat Dantzer ’06 dominated the 1500-meter run, and Samuel Fox ’09 set the new freshman record in the high jump. Meanwhile, down in Texas, Jihad Beauchman ’06 qualified for NCAA Regionals in the triple jump and Shomari Taylor ’06 just narrowly missed the cut in the 400-meter hurdles.

“We had mixed results [in Texas],” Kevin Alexander ’06 said. “The relays did not quite go as well as we had wanted, but it was a good experience.”

Alexander said the Bulldogs’ chief objective in Texas was to have the top sprinters and jumpers qualify for NCAA Regionals. The colossal event brought together some of the country’s top track stars. As a result, the competition was fierce, but Alexander said it was good to face challengers of such high caliber.

Despite the strong opponents, Beauchman qualified for Regionals on Saturday, placing fifth in the B section of the triple jump with a mark of 15.24 meters. The following day he placed seventh in the B section of the high jump with a height of 2.05 meters.

Though Taylor did not follow in Beauchman’s steps in terms of qualifying for Regionals, his time of 52.53 was only two-hundreths of a second shy. He finished 17th overall out of 58 competitors in the university section.

The 4 x 200-meter relay team of Russel Kempf ’07, Victor Cheng ’08, Dan O’Brien ’08 and Alexander took 12th place overall on the second day of competition, finishing with a time of 1:26.74.

While the sprinters and jumpers were down in the sun belt, the rest of the Bulldogs had more to battle than just the other teams.

“The weather took a turn for the worse,” Dantzer said.

Highlights from the first day included Andrew Samuel’s ’09 personal record in the steeplechase and Jake Gallagher’s ’09 performance in the 5K, although Gallagher ultimately dropped out for medical reasons. But on the second day, pleasant conditions gave way to 40-degree weather, rain and strong winds. Dantzer said the conditions led to slower times and affected the team’s attitude, but times were not all he was going for this weekend.

“You want to win, and you want to run fast,” he said. “If you don’t get one, you want to get the other.”

Dantzer triumphed at Princeton in the 1,500-meter run with a time of 3:57.02.

Fox stole the spotlight when he placed second in the high jump. His mark of 2.06 meters was not only a freshman record, but also a personal best and qualified him for the IC4A regionals.

Dantzer said John Hinkle ’09, another rookie, was also well deserving of tribute. The middle-distance runner, who has been hurt all year, ran in the 1500-meter event this past weekend.

“A lot of people let the weather effect them, but he didn’t,” Dantzer said.

The miserable conditions took their toll most on the throwers. John Langhauser ’07 said the weather forced some of the throwers inside, making it more difficult to qualify for Regionals. But Langhauser performed well, placing third in both the discus and shot put.

The javelin remained outside. Kevin Hickenbottom ’09 earned third in the event with a distance of 52.69 meters.

The Bulldogs look forward to sunnier conditions next weekend at the Brown Invitational.

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