March 8, 2012

MIT Track & Field Prepares for NCAA Indoor Championship

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Members of the MIT men's and women's track and field teams will travel to Grinnell College for this weekend's NCAA Division III Indoor championship, beginning on Friday afternoon. The women, ranked No. 3 in the country in the latest United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) poll, will send eight competitors to the national meet to compete in a total of six different events. The tenth-ranked men also have eight athletes entered in five events, including a pair of relays.

Senior Portia Jones (New York, N.Y.) leads the way, qualifying in three events on the women's side. Jones is the top overall seed in the 400 meters with her season-best time of 55.58 seconds, set at the All-New England meet two weeks ago. Jones will also compete as an individual in the 60-meter hurdles, where she owns the seventh-fastest time.

Jones, seniors Jamie Simmons (Carlsbad, Calif.) and Martha Gross (Short Hills, N.J.) and sophomore Jacqueline Brew (Amherst, N.H.) make up Tech's 4x400 relay, which enters the championship as the second seed. The Cardinal and Gray set a new MIT record earlier this season with its time of 3:50.88 and sit behind only defending champions, Wartburg College.

Simmons is also entered in three events, the 400m and Distance medley relay. Joining Simmons on the DMR will be Gross, sophomore Louise van den Heuvel (Nashua, N.H.) and freshman Cindy Huang (San Jose, Calif.). The group is seeded seventh out of 10 teams and will hope to score quality points for the Cardinal and Gray.

Brew will join Jones in the 60-meter hurdles, where she is seeded 13th. The other two competitors on the women's side are freshman Elaine McVay (San Ramon, Calif.) in the 5000 meters and junior Lauren Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa.) in the pole vault, both of whom are the 13th seed in their respective events.

On the men's side, the Engineers will send three individuals along with a pair of relays. Senior Nathan Peterson (Kansas City, Mo.) is the highest-seeded entry, standing fourth in the pole vault. Senior Chinedum Umachi (Detroit, Mich.) is the fifth-seeded competitor in the weight throw. Freshman Sam Parker (Menlo Park, Calif.) is entered in the 800 as the 13th-fastest qualifier.

Tech will also have relay entries in the 4x400 and distance medley events. The distance medley group of juniors Justin Bullock (Detroit, Mich.),Kyle Hannon (Park Ridge, Ill.), Patrick Marx (Grand Rapids, Minn.) and sophomore Tyler Singer-Clark (Falmouth, Mass.) comes into the national championship as the second overall seed, thanks to their season-best time of 9:52.45, which is just 0.32 seconds off the program-record.

The 4x400 relay consists of Parker, Marx, Singer-Clark and junior Brian Gager (Rye, N.Y.) and sits sixth overall coming into the meet.

Fans can follow the national championship meet all weekend long, as the NCAA will offer live results and live streaming video on Friday and Saturday. Links to both results and video can be found here.

Last season, the Tech women finished third as a team at the indoor national championship on their way to the Vercauteren Program of the Year award from the USTFCCCA, given to the program that achieves the best cumulative placing at the NCAA cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field championships. The men were 28th in the team standings a year ago but hope to improve on that standing with significantly more entries in the 2012 meet.