DMR and Martinez Highlight NCAAs for Track

By JORDAN HOWELL

After extensive training throughout the season, a select group from the men’s and women’s track teams participated in the NCAA Championships on Friday, March 9, and Saturday, March 10, at the end of last week.

Four Panthers on the women’s side took part in the competition. Tasha Greene ’21, Meg Wilson ’20, Kate McCluskey ’18 and Abigail Nadler ’19 made up the distance medley relay team. McCluskey also qualified to take part in the 400-meter event.

In the 400 meters on Friday, McCluskey finished ninth, missing the cut for Saturday’s national championship heat by one spot, but just narrowly. In fact, that might be an understatement. With a time of 56.30, she was just 0.003 seconds slower than the eighth-place finisher.

The women’s distance medley relay team entered the championships after setting the one of the fastest relay times this winter, but placed 12th at NCAAs with a time of 12:16.33.

On the men’s side, Jimmy Martinez ’19 and the distance medley relay team headlined the event for the Panthers. On the whole, they managed to rack up 11 points as a team, good for a 20th-place finish in a field of 66 teams.

In the 400-meter race, Martinez managed to lock up a spot in the final heat with a seventh-place finish in his preliminary heat. He turned up the heat for the final, though. In the race for all the marbles, Martinez crossed the line in 48.34, good for fourth place and All-American honors.

“Individually, I did everything I said I was going to do,” Martinez said, in reference to his performance. “That was to go out strong to the break line, make the final, and run hard in the final.”

Martinez also referred to how one of his competitors contributed to his strong performance:

“Hearing A.J. Digby’s blades behind me was honestly pretty terrifying,” Martinez said of his fellow competitor, a sophomore from Mount Union. Digby finished fourth in the 400-meter at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. “But I was glad to have held on at the finish this year.  Unfortunately, having to hold Digby off messed with the pace a little, so the other heat went off slightly faster. But I’m happy with how I attacked both races.”

The men’s distance medley relay team added the final highlight to what was a very successful weekend for the track program. Nathan Hill ’20, Tyler Farrell ’18, James Mulliken ’18 and Kevin Serrao ’18 combined for a time of 9:57.94, which was good for third place.

“I was really proud of the distance medley boys,” said Martinez, who watched intently as the race unfolded. “Nathan led off really strong, just like he said he would. And Kevin made some really gutsy moves in the last few laps to pass arguably the best miler in Division III history.  Those guys are ballers.”

The distance team joined Martinez as members of the indoor All-American team.

After a productive season, the men and women are now looking to continue improving for the outdoor track season. They have a long way to go before outdoor NESCACs, New England Championships and NCAAs arrive, but the thought of succeeding in these races will act as motivation throughout the spring.

For now, both teams will look to get their legs back underneath them prior to the team’s spring break trip. They will both be back in action at the PLNU Collegiate Invitational on Saturday, March 24, in San Diego, California.

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DMR and Martinez Highlight NCAAs for Track