Goats regain Centennial crown
By biconews On 29 Feb, 2000 At 05:00 AM | Categorized As Archives | With 0 Comments

By Marc Robert

After a disappointing third-place finish in last year’s Centennial Conference indoor championships, the pressure was on Haverford, widely regarded as possessing one of the

strongest men’s track and field programs in NCAA Division III, to take back the Centennial Conference championship trophy. As hosts of Friday’s and Saturday’s events, the Goats had the good fortune of performing in front of a home crowd in Alumni Field House, and they did not disappoint, dominating the competition and besting rival Dickinson for the win.

The first day of action saw numerous outstanding performances on the part of Haverford. However, the first men’s race of the day, the l500m, witnessed some controversy. In the second heat (i.e., the “fast” heat), J.B. Haglund ’02, Chris Johnstone ’02 and Franklin and

Marshall’s T.J. Unger were all neck-and-neck heading into the home stretch. With less than 20 meters left in the race, Johnstone and Unger got tangled up, forcing Johnstone to the ground just after crossing the finish line in first, and sending Unger stumbling into a hurdle and eventually across the line in third.

The initial ruling found no foul, but after an F & M protest, Johnstone was disqualified for what was deemed bumping. However, mans kit the real culprit was a misplaced hurdle, the removal of which would have given Unger more room to maneuver to his right and avoid Johnstone altogether.

In the end, Haglund took first, Unger placed second, and Goats Greg Rielecki ’03, Doug Bennett ’02, Ronnie Bossert ’02, and Tyson Oherndorfer ’02 grabbed third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively - still a superb Haverford showing. Early in the race, Bossert had one of his shoes ripped off by Unger’s foot. Bossert continued the race, somehow placed fifth, and was unable to compete in the rest of the meet.

In the 55m, one of Haverford’s top sprinters, Eric Koersen ’02, lost his balance, fell out of his set, and was disqualified by the starter - the Goats’ second disappointing DQ of the day. All was not lost, however, as frosh Matt Rivenburgh won the Koersen-less heat with a time of 6.77, qualifying for Saturday’s finals, in which he would place fifth (6.75).

In the Distance Medley Relay, leadoff Chris Ward pulled out to an enormous lead in his final two laps, one the Goats would not relinquish. A hand-off to Peter Rook, another to Chris Johnstone and a third to anchor J.B. Haglund, and Haverford had captured yet another win. The four sophomores combined for a time of 10:34.38, edging out Franklin and Marshall (10:35.69).

The Goats obliterated the competition in the 3000m, as juniors Jason Dwyer (8:52.12) and Garth Terry (8:54.03), soph Willie Stroever (8:54.30), junior Stephon Petro (8:56.89), soph Dan Heinz (8:59.29) and senior Nathan Wright (9:02.35) seized all six scoring places for a total of 31 points.

In the field, soph Andy Au (42 feet-4.25 inches) took sixth in the triple jump, and Au (21 feet-1.5 inches) and Duques (20-9.75) would take fourth and sixth place, respectively, in the long jump Saturday.

Haverford entered Saturday’s action with 71 points - a 39 point advantage over Dickinson. The first race of the day was the 4×800, in which freshmen John Frisbee and Greg Bielecki and sophs Tyson Oberndorfer and Doug Bennett took home gold medals with a time of 8:03.86.

The Goats failed to place in the 55m hurdles, so the next race of interest was the 400m, in which Matt Duques placed third with a time of 51.13 seconds. Duques also brought home a silver medal in the 200m later in the day with a time of 23.11, second only to Dickinson’s Chavaun Johnson (22.74).

In the 800m, Chris Johnstone made up for Friday’s disqualification, winning the race with a vengeance in 1:57.29 ahead of fellow Goats Ward (1:58.21), Haglund (1:59.23), Ben Seesel ’01 (20:00.42) [sic] and Doug Bennett (2:00.76), who placed 2-3-5-6 for Haverford.

Despite these outstanding performances, the Goats found themselves three points behind Dickinson coming into the next-to-last race of the day, the 5000m. The Red Devils began cutting into Haverford’s lead in the morning with first and second place finishes in the long jump, later with first, second, third, and fifth place finishes in the 55m hurdles and finally passing the Goats’ total on Mike Scanish’s win in the high jump (6’6″). With six runners from Haverford, four from Dickinson, and one from Swarthmore all competing in the fast heat, it was clear the 5000m was to be a pivotal race.

The Goats responded to the pressure. Stephon Petro (15:16.44) opened up a huge lead late in the race and captured first, Swat’s Marc Jeuland (15:20.87) took second, and Goats Garth Terry (15:28.29), Willie Stroever (15:31.86), and Nathan Wright (15:33.38), who surged past

Dickinson’s Andrew Slater in the home stretch, placed third, fourth, and fifth, respectively. This gave Haverford a total of 22 points for the race, and with Dickinson notching only one point on a sixth place finish, the Goats’ total was enough to clinch the championship.

Dickinson just outran the Haverford squad of Chris Ward, Chris Johnstone, Peter Rook and Matt Duques in the final race of the day, the 4x400m relay, but it proved too little, too late for the Red Devils.

The longer distance races made the difference in the meet for Haverford, as the Goats registered points in all but three possible scoring spots (i.e., 21/24) in the 800, 1500, 3000, and 5000 meters combined - a mind-boggling total of 103 points gained for the four races.

The win represented Haverford’s 25th victory out of 26 conference cross country, indoor and outdoor track championships since 1991.

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