Men’s Track Wins NESCACs

In the past five seasons, the men’s track and field team has finished second, third and fourth at Nescacs, but not first. In fact, the Panthers had never won a Nescac championship … until last Saturday, April 28. On the backs of first-place finishes by Kevin Serrao ’18, Jimmy Martinez ’19, Nicholas Hendrix ’20, the 4×100-meter relay team and the 4×400 team, and bolstered by strong performances in every event, the Panthers supplanted the two-time defending champions, Williams, who have now won only 23 of the 33 Nescac crowns — instead of 23 of 32.

And combined with the women’s team, which finished third, Middlebury track and field improved upon last year’s performance, when the men’s and women’s teams came together to finish seventh at Nescacs.

“Knowing that this was the first Nescac title in program history made last weekend even more special,” said Martinez. “Knowing that we could actually win it this year led to so many spectacular performances. I can’t express how proud I am of everyone for bringing the amount of energy they did.”

Martinez was one of several Panthers who rose to another plane of performance on Saturday. He won the 400-meter dash with a time of 48.02, while Serrao won the 1500-meter race in 3:52.20 and Hendrix crossed first in the 100-meter dash in 10.58.

Two relay teams encapsulated what needed to be a complete team effort if they wanted to unseat Williams and outrace the rest of the Nescac competition. Jackson Bock ’19, Jackson Barnett ’18, Mike Pallozzi ’18 and Hendrix came together to run a 42.29 in the 4×100-meter relay, crossing the finish line five-hundredths of a second before Tufts’ team to win the race. Arden Coleman ’20, William Robertson ’21, Josh Howard ’19 and Martinez beat the entire field by at least two seconds to claim the 4×400-meter relay crown.

Along with these five victories, a Panther finished in the top five of every competition but two on the men’s side. James Mulliken ’18, Nathan Hill ’20, Connor Evans ’19, Matt D’Aquila ’21, Harrison Knowlton ’19, Ascencion Aispuro ’18, Tyler Farrell ’18, Jon Perlman ’19, Sawyer Tadano ’21, Jonathan Fisher ’20, John Natalone ’19, Max Memeger ’21, Nathaniel Klein ’21, Minhaj Rahman ’19 and Brenden Edwards ’18 all chipped in top-five performances. And these spectacular efforts came across all of the events — individual running and relays, jumping and throwing.

The man who has guided Middlebury to this moment is Martin Beatty ’84. Beatty was a sprinter for the track team and a running back on the football team at Middlebury. After graduation, he was an assistant for the track and field, football and women’s basketball teams for a season before leaving to fill similar assistant roles at Trinity. In 1987, he returned to Middlebury as an assistant for the track and field, football and men’s basketball teams. Then, in 1988 he chose to focus on track and field, becoming the head coach. The women’s team has won two Nescac titles under Beatty. Now, in his 30th season at the helm, he has championships with both teams.

“Being the first men’s track team to win Nescacs is something we will never forget,” said Hendrix. “Not having won before definitely served as a motivating factor. We’re especially happy for our coach, Martin Beatty, because he deserves it for all the hard work he’s put in over the last 30 years.”

The women’s team also featured remarkable performances. Kate McCluskey ’18 broke a personal record and placed third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.13, along with a first-place finish in the 400-meter dash with a time of 56.22. Additionally, McCluskey won first place in the 4×400 team race along with Lucy Lang ’19, Kai Milici ’21, and Kate Holly ’21.

“I am so proud of both of our teams this weekend, men and women,” McCluskey said, praising her teammates. “We had a lot of outstanding performances all around, and everyone had a lot of fun doing it. I also really admire the way our team comes together at NESCACs. All day we had people cheering for one another.”

With a time of 4:35.22, Katie Glew ’21 placed fourth in the 1500-meter run. Kate MacCary ’19 secured second place in the 5000-meter run with a time of 17:16.57. Kreager Taber ’19 placed second in the pole vault event with a vault of 3.55 meters, while Alex Cook ’20 captured third in the long jump with a jump of 5.44 meters. Finally, Helene Rowland ’20 finished third in the shot put event with an 11.99-meter throw.

“Competing at Nescacs is completely different from any other meet. In my opinion, the team seems to be much more unified and competitive with our overall results, as opposed to our own personal performances” said Devon Player ’18. “As a senior, I look back at all of the positive memories of being a part of this team, and it makes me want to try so much harder to do the best that I can and to cherish the time that I have left with my fellow athletes.”

Camaraderie proved to be a constant theme amongst members of the team.

“The preparation for this meet was a real team effort. When a few of the guys realized there was a chance for us to win, the excitement quickly built,” said Paul Malloy ’18. “From top to bottom, this team has shown an incredible amount of commitment and drive. Everybody knew we had a strong group coming into the season, and we’re so fortunate to have an amazing coaching and training staff that knows how to push our limits so that we could perform our best this weekend. I’m so proud of this team for setting a goal of winning this meet and not letting anything get in the way.”

One of the Cinderella stories for the track and field teams that emerged in last weekend’s championship was that of Isabella “Speck” Alfaro ’18, who spent much of the last five months on crutches due to a high-risk stress fracture. However, after being cleared to run in April, she leapt at the opportunity to compete.

“I didn’t think I would race for Middlebury again until Coach Wilkerson gave me the option to be a wildcard entry at Nescacs,” said Alfaro. “The support from my coaches and team made competing on Saturday incredibly special to me and reminded me why I never quit, even when my doctor told me I wouldn’t have a spring season.

“The track team has always been my favorite part of Middlebury,” Alfaro added, “so to have all my teammates line the track and cheer gave me the biggest smile while I was running down the last straightaway.”

With this spirit of support and pattern of excellence, the track and field teams now look forward to the Division III New England Championships, which start at MIT this afternoon and run until Saturday, May 5.

“This win should propel us into New Englands and some of us into NCAAs,” Martinez said. “Over these next few weeks, expect some sick performances and a lot of qualifiers. The goal is to score some serious points at these meets and crown even more champions.”

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Men’s Track Wins NESCACs