May 3, 2009
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For the first time in program history, the MIT women’s track & field team captured the NCAA New England Division III Outdoor Championship at Springfield College over the weekend. The Engineers edged out nine-time defending champions, Williams College, with 152.50 team points. The outdoor title followed up Tech’s win at the New England Division III Indoor meet earlier this year.
Sophomore Hazel Briner put the Cardinal and Grey ahead early with her first-place finish in the Heptathlon on Friday. Briner claimed the top spot in the 100m hurdles and the shot put and added a pair of second-place efforts in the high jump and the 200-meter dash on her way to a point total of 3972.
The Engineers’ championship effort was aided by strong performances in the relay events, picking up two wins and a fourth-place finish. The 4x800m relay squad of Alicia Kaestli, Jacqui Wentz, Adrienne Bolger and Andrea Bradshaw shattered the meet and Institute records with a time of 9:13.96, more than four seconds better than the previous meet record and nearly nine seconds faster than the previous MIT record-holders. The 4x400m relay also picked up first-place points, as Jamie Simmons, Portia Jones, Martha Gross and Kirsten Aarsvold teamed up to run 3:57.76. Simmons and Jones were a part of the 4x100 relay that finished fourth, along with Margaret Leibovic and Amy Magnuson.
In addition to her role in the relays, Jones pulled off the 200/400m double, winning the two events with times of 25.69 and 57.24 seconds, respectively. Simmons also helped MIT’s cause with third-place finishes in the 400 and the 400m hurdles.
Jacqui Wentz added a win in the 3000m Steeplechase, finishing in 10:47.46 to narrowly break her own Institute record. Wentz also eclipsed the program standard in the 800m with a time of 2:15.76, good for third overall.
Tech’s other event wins came in the pole vault and the 100m hurdles. Emily Hwang bettered her own school record in the vault, clearing 12-7.50 feet to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championship. Hwang currently has the third-best mark in Division III. Magnuson ran 14.39 to clip Elise Johnson of Williams in the hurdles, earning what would prove to be crucial first-place points for the Cardinal and Grey. Magnuson now stands fifth on the NCAA Division III performance list.
The Engineers become the first team to win regional titles at both the indoor and outdoor meets in the same season since Williams pulled off the sweep in 2007.
MIT hopes to build on this historic performance next week at the NEICAAA Championship hosted by UMass-Amherst. The meet begins on Thursday afternoon and runs through Saturday.