By Dennis Young
(Allentown, Pa.) -- At Muhlenberg College, the site of the 2011 Centennial Conference championships, the Dickinson men's track & field team began its outdoor season in earnest this Saturday.
Undoubtedly the biggest story of the day, at least from a Dickinson perspective, was the re-emergence of the 400 as a strong event for the Red Devils. At the last four conference championships, going into the year, the Dickinson men finished first, first, second, and first in the 4x400 meter relay and had myriad scorers in the open 400. But at the 2011 CC meet, they struggled home to 7th out of 9 teams in the 4x4 and had no scorers in the open 400.
Today's meet provided major signs of encouragement, as first-year Sage Ofray (Newark, N.J./Episcopal, Va.) finished fourth in with a time of 51.06 (1.25 seconds faster than just a week ago), sophomore Jesse Buchman (Williamsport, Md./Williamsport) was two places back in 51.37, junior Mike Mansuy (Collegeville, Pa./Methacton) and sophomore Jon Jackson (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest) were slightly back in times of 52.62 and 52.74, respectively.
For Ofray, Buchman, and Jackson, the race was their fastest open 400 in college, and Mansuy missed his open PR by a mere two-tenths of a second. With the anticipated return of senior Jeremy Keys (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East) the Devil men are suddenly formidable again in the 400 meters.
Senior Chris Johnson (Yardley, Pa./Holy Ghost Prep) acquitted himself well in an unusual triple in the field, competing in the long jump, triple jump, and javelin. Johnson spent his first two springs at Dickinson as a pitcher for the baseball team before shifting his focus to track full time last April. The arm that served him as a pitcher on the diamond launched the javelin 44.52m (146-0.75) for a personal best. While he was hurt by a fall in warm-ups for the long, Johnson set a season best at 12.37m (40-7) in the triple, his first time over 40 feet in 2011.
Also of note in the field: in the discus, juniors Corwyn Gordon (Hanover, Pa./South Western), Mike Tucker (Pottstown, Pa./Pottstown) and sophomore Joe Stahley (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) all threw personal bests of 40.02, 38.13, and 38.96 meters, respectively. The throwers were third, sixth, and seventh.
In the long jump, junior decathlete John Bingham (Hanover, Pa./South Western) was 6th with a PR of 6.19m (20-3.75) while first-year Nick Schwab (Stone Ridge, N.Y./Rondout Valley) finished 8th, jumping 6.03m (19-9.5).
Finally, the Red Devils also had another solid day in the distances. Dickinson harriers won the 1500 meters and 4x800, and took five of the top six places in the 5000. In the 1500, after a fairly pedestrian first 300 meters, first-year Robbie Sansevere (White House Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) bolted to the front and set the pace for the next kilometer. He would be outkicked in the last 200 by classmate Hank Mynatt (Lake Forest, Ill/Lake Forest), but Sansevere was rewarded for his efforts with a personal Ibest of 4:08.96. Mynatt won the race in 4:06.22.
In the 4x800, Buchman, Mansuy, and Jackson doubled back from the 400 and were joined by junior Wilson Riccardo (Lock Haven, Pa./Central Mountain) to take first in the relay with a time of 8:08.55. And in the 5k, Red Devils swept second through sixth place, led by junior Paul LeFrancois (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) in 15:31.96. Having a solid debut in fourth place was sophomore Ryan Steinbock (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley), who ran 15:34.79.
The Devils return to competition next week at the Messiah Invitational on Saturday, April 9th.