BAREA, Ohio – MIT senior, Stephen Morton, captured the NCAA Division III National Championship in the long jump on Thursday, becoming the 22nd NCAA Individual Champion in MIT history. Morton out-leapt Kellen McCrary of Wisconsin-La Crosse by an inch and a half to cap off a very successful first day for the Cardinal and Gray at the National Championship meet.
Morton entered the meet as just the 10th seed in the event. However, the four-time All-American had the best mark in the preliminary flights, with a 23-9.00 foot jump. Morton duplicatfed that effort on his second attempt in the finals. Three other competitors would reach 23-7.50 feet, including Central College sophomore, Ethan Miller, on his final attempt, but Morton’s mark would ultimately hold up, clinching the 16th National title in program history.
Morton’s Championship effort allowed the senior to overcome the heartbreak he experienced at this year’s Indoor Nationals, where he came up just one-quarter inch shy of first place in the triple jump. Missing the awards podium in the long jump in 2009 also helped motivate Morton to reach new heights in his final collegiate competition.
“It made me really focus on my approach this year,” the senior remarked. “I spent a lot of time over the summer and also during the indoor season working on my approach to the board. The reason I didn’t score at both the outdoor meet last year and this year’s indoor national meet was my approach. I really focused on being quicker at the end of my run and quicker off the board.”
Vladimir Sobes started things off for the Engineers, claiming a sixth-place finish in the javelin earlier in the day. With a throw of 203-10 feet, Sobes became MIT’s first All-America honoree in the javelin since Nick Michalakis in 1999 and just the second overall.
In preliminary heats throughout the afternoon, three Tech runners finished with the top overall qualifying time in their respective events. Jacqui Wentz (4:32.62) and Yermie Cohen (3:50.74) were the fastest overall finishers in the 1500. Jamie Simmons’ time of 60.52 seconds in the 400-meter hurdles was good for a new Institute record and was the top qualifying mark. Portia Jones advanced to the finals of the 200m, with a program record time of 24.28 seconds, as did the women’s 4x400m relay.
In other event finals, Greg Tao (11th) and Karin Fisher (10th) just missed the awards podium in the men’s and women’s pole vault while Alina Gatowski placed 17th at 10,000 meters.
After one day, the MIT men stand in third place with 13 team points while the women have yet to score in the meet. Jacqui Wentz will look to record the first points for the women in the 3000 meter Steeplechase on Friday afternoon. Wentz is the lone Tech athlete competing in an event final on Friday. Jones will attempt to qualify for the finals in two more events, the 100 IH and the 400.