May 24, 2012

Simmons, Mattocks, Serene Advance to Finals on Day One of NCAA Championship

CLARMEONT, Calif. – The MIT men's and women's track & field teams opened competition at the NCAA Division III championship on Thursday, with qualifying heats as well as the finals of the men's and women's 10,000 meters. Senior Jamie Simmons (Carlsbad, Calif.) was the top performer for the Cardinal and Gray, advancing to the finals of the 400-meter hurdles and running on the 4x400 relay that also qualified for the event final.

On the men's side seniors Benjamin Mattocks (Sharon, Mass.) and Stephen Serene (Washington, D.C.) were able to earn their way into the finals of the 1500 meters and 3000-meter Steeplechase, respectively.

Simmons won her heat and had the third fastest overall time 400IH, finishing in 1:01.16. Simmons will run out of lane six in Saturday's final, which is scheduled for 4:45 p.m. PST.

Simmons then joined classmates, Portia Jones (Queens, N.Y.) and Martha Gross (Short Hills, N.J.) and sophomore Jacqueline Brew (Amherst, N.H.) in the 4x400 meter relay in the final event of the evening. The Engineers came into the event with just the 12th fastest seed time in the event but showed what they are truly capable of, improving on their season best time by nearly four seconds (3:47.22) to finish third in their heat and fifth overall. Tech will run in Saturday's final at 6:20 p.m. PST.

MIT's other relay squad, the 4x100 quartet of Simmons, Jones, Gross and Brew, finished in 47.83 seconds, landing outside the top nine that advance.

Serene continued his late-season surge in the steeplechase, finishing with the eighth-best qualifying time. Just one week after his MIT-record performance that pushed him into the national field, the senior posted a time of 9:14.72 to give himself a chance at All-America honors. The steeplechase final will take place on Saturday at 2:10 p.m. PST.

Mattocks and junior Kyle Hannon (Park Ridge, Ill.) were running the preliminary heats of the 1500, with Mattocks' time of 3:54.13 holding up to move on to the 12-man final. Hannon finished with a time of 4:18.73.

In the only final of the evening, senior Daniel Harper (Naperville, Ill.) and freshman Elaine McVay (San Ramon, Calif.) took part in the 10,000 meters. McVay, who was competing at her third national championship of her rookie season after running in the cross country and indoor meets, was the first to race. The freshman finished with a time of 37:00.15, good for 11th place. Harper was next up, looking to close out his career with his first trip to the awards podium. The senior nearly did just, finishing with a time of 31:08.02 to take ninth place, just under eight seconds off the All-America pace.