SELINSGROVE, Pa. – On Saturday, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's indoor track and field team finished in third place at the 2011 Landmark Conference Championships at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa., which marks the program's best finish ever. The Mariners accumulated a total of 67 points at the meet.
Kings Point showed unprecedented improvement this indoor season. Just one year removed from a sixth-place performance at the indoor Landmark Conference Championships in 2010 where the squad scored a mere six points, USMMA shot up the conference rankings with a third-place finish this past weekend. The Mariners handedly defeated conference foes Goucher College, Catholic University and Juniata College to end up with the Academy's best-ever finish since joining the Landmark. The men scored 67 points at the meet for an 11-fold improvement in just one year.
"I realized that focusing on the relay events gave us a good chance of putting significant points on the board. While our team may not have a lot of individual superstars, we're developing solid depth and a wonderful team atmosphere. The guys are really willing to lay it all out there for one another and continuously exhibit great synergy in the relays," Head Coach Gregory Lott commented.
The 4x400 meter relay team of juniors Kevin Young (The Woodlands, Texas), Hunter Karass (Marlboro, N.J.), and seniors Joshua Norris (San Marcos, Texas) and Brandon Barrett (Kingwood, Texas) ran to a resounding overall victory in the event. Their time of 3:31.91 blew away the field by a full straightaway. Being the final event, it was the perfect culmination of the day's efforts.
The 4x200 meter team of Barrett, senior Andrew Coatsworth (Niceville, Fla.), and freshmen Tyler McDaniel (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and Mickel McGann (Ocala, Fla.) ran to a second-place finish behind one of the nation's top 4x200 relays from Moravian College. USMMA's time of 1:34.43 qualified them to compete in the ECAC Championships next weekend.
"Daniel Baxter showed guts in his anchor leg fighting off a strong challenge from Susquehanna and nearly catching Goucher for the win. Daniel's improvement has been drastic. He's started the indoor season as a 4:50 miler. Today he ran by far his best-ever race with a split of 4:30.2. That kind of improvement throughout a single season is very rare in our sport," Coach Lott said.
Individually, the Mariners chipped away and picked up points across all event groups. Their sole individual event champion was Norris in the high jump. Norris soared over bar after bar and beat out Susquehanna's All-American jumper with a mark of 1.93 meters. His jump qualified him for the ECAC Championships.
USMMA sprinters also had a strong day. In addition to the wonderful results and relays, there was a trio of fourth-place finishes to garner solid points for the team. McGann ran the 55-meter dash in a time of 6.72, Barrett blazed through the 200-meter in 23.38 seconds, and Young notched a time of 52.28 in the 400-meter. All three results were lifetime best marks.
Senior shot-putters Robert Baker (Havre De Grace, Md.) and Ben Sturtevant continued their improvements in the event picking up solid points, finishing fourth (12.51 meters) and fifth (12.40 meters), respectively.
"Both men are great physical specimens and are very new to the sport. Their technique is still very raw and I'm excited to see them continue to develop throughout the outdoor season," Coach Lott said.
The team efforts and unbelievable improvements garnered first-year Head Coach Gregory Lott recognition by the Landmark Conference as Coach of the Year on the men's side.
"This award represents the great quality of student-athletes we have at this Academy. They have exhibited strong work ethic and camaraderie throughout the year. We are lucky to have fantastic captains and senior leadership. The rest of our coaching staff, Don Wilburn and Samantha Hegmann, has worked tirelessly to help our midshipmen reach their potential," Coach Lott remarked. "I consider myself very lucky to have such dedicated individuals on my staff. We still have much work to do as a program, but we are well on our way. It's an exciting time to be a part of USMMA Track & Field."
Final Team Scores:
6. Catholic - 20.25