by Dennis Young
The Dickinson College men's track and field team placed fifth at the Centennial Conference indoor track and field championships Saturday. While host Haverford College was far ahead of the field, Dickinson finished just 6.5 points out of second in a meet where over 650 points were scored. Although fifth place is a tough pill to swallow for the defending champs, the meet was marked by fine performances and season and personal bests across the board.
In a slow-starting, tactical 5000 meters, facing down both the individual and team Division III national champions from cross country, senior Kent Pecora (Chapel Hill, NC/Chapel Hill) picked up a scintillating victory. Pecora ran his final mile in 4:26, which would have put him in the points in the open mile. Junior Dylan Straughan (Bethesda, MD/Bethesda-Chevy Chase) outkicked a competitor by less than half a second to take third, and senior Brian Krusell (Newington, CT/Newington) closed out the scoring in eighth place. All three outperformed their ranking in the conference entering the meet.
And the biggest men on the team more than carried their weight, as junior throwers Mike Tucker (Pottstown, PA/Pottstown), Corwyn Gordon (Hanover, PA/South Western), and b were joined by sophomore Casey Caslin (West Chester, PA/Henderson) to score 19 of the 39 available points in the shot put. Tucker was second in 48-06.25 (14.79 meters), Gordon was third in 47-07 (14.50m), Hubley, competing with a pulled hamstring, was fifth in 45-10 (13.97m), and Caslin placed eighth with a throw of 41-10.75 (12.77m). All four scorers, plus sophomore Joe Stahley in tenth place, set their indoor personal best, and Hubley, Caslin, and Stahley threw personal bests, indoors or out.
The jumping crew was without junior John Bingham (Hanover, PA/South Western), who missed the meet with a health issue. But senior Chris Johnson (Yardley, PA/Holy Ghost Prep) and first-year Nick Schwab (Stone Ridge, NY/Rondout Valley) picked up the slack. Johnson picked up seventh in the long jump ( 19-10.25/6.05m) and eighth in the triple jump (39-11.50/12.18m), while Schwab leaped 5 feet, 8.75 inches in the air to take third in the high jump.
Pecora and Straughan doubled back in the 3000, with the order reversed as the junior placed second in 8:35.53 (putting him at the third fastest 3k performer in school history) and the senior was fourth in 8:40.70. For the second time in the meet, Straughan nipped Haverford's Joseph Carpenter at the line by less than half a second, beating him by 0.64 seconds total in the 5k and 3k.
Precocious first-year Omar Hyjek (Sewickley Valley, PA/Quaker Valley) ran a double for the Dickinson history books. His fifth place in the mile at 4:17.84 gave him the fastest mile ever by a Dickinson freshman, indoors or out. And less than three hours later in the 4x800 meter relay, he joined fellow first-years Jon Jackson (Lebanon, PA/Cedar Crest) and Ryan Steinbock (Pittsburgh, PA/Chartiers Valley) plus junior Wilson Riccardo (Lock Haven, PA/Central Mountain) to set a school record of 8:00.63, good for second place in the conference.
Pending outcomes across the country, Pecora may qualify for the indoor national championships in two weeks. The rest of the squad resumes competition outdoors in four weeks, March 26th at the Little Three Championships. The additions of the discus, javelin, decathlon, steeplechase, and 10000 meters outdoors (Dickinson earned wins all of those events at conferences last spring except for the discus) give the men a solid chance to defend their title on the first weekend in May.