By Dennis Young
(Collegeville, Pa.) - The Dickinson College men's indoor track and field team finished third in the Centennial Conference for the second year in a row, tying with Ursinus at 94 points.
The Red Devils took home three conference championships: the 800 meters, the distance medley relay, and the 60 meters. The 800 meters was unquestionably the most bizarre. That event was split into three heats based on times run in the regular season, with the slowest runners in the first heat and the fastest runners in the third.
In the second heat, junior Jon Jackson (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest) edged out a Gettysburg runner in the final 50 meters to run 1:56.11, just .11 shy of the school record. Jackson had accomplished exactly what he hoped to-- win his heat and run a fast time that would beat out some runners in the fast heat.
But as the fast heat dawdled and the field continued to feel each other out rather than push the pace, a shocking realization swept over the Dickinson contingent: Jackson was going to win the entire event. And so he did; in fact, runners from the "slow" heat took the top three places overall. It is the first time ever that a Red Devil has won the men's indoor 800.
A historical note from the 800: first-year Matt Sansevere (White House Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central)was within half a second of his personal best, running 2:05.49. That gives him the somewhat ignominious honor of being the fastest last-place finisher in the event in conference history.
The Red Devils have won the distance medley before, but just once, in 1997, and in a much slower time than they ran on Saturday. Sophomore Conor White (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield), in the biggest stage that he has competed collegiately, led off with a stellar split of 3:11 for 1200 meters. He then handed off to first-year Greg Boles (Brooklyn, N.Y./Bishop Ford) who took care of business, running 400 meters in 53.7 seconds.
Sophomore Charlie Bayne (Culpepper, Va./Eastern Regional) ran 1:58 on the penultimate 800-meter leg, handing off to junior Ryan Steinbock (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) one meter behind the team from Johns Hopkins. Steinbock ran a tactically brilliant 1600 meters in 4:18.0, overpowering Haverford's Mike Riccio with a last 400 of 58 seconds. Their time is the third fastest distance medley in school history.
Junior Aaron Pannell (Trenton, N.J./Notre Dame) won the third conference championship, and overall scored 18 points in open events, plus a stellar anchor leg in the 4x200 meter relay. He defended his conference title and broke his own conference meet record in 6.89 short seconds in the 60 meters, jumped 13.07 meters (42 feet, 10.75 inches) for fourth in the triple jump, and took 6th in the 200 meters in 23.40 seconds.
The field, long a bulwark for Dickinson men's teams, produced major points for the Red Devils this weekend. First-year Russ Rollow (Columbia, Md./Wilde Lake) scored 3,550 points in the two-day, seven-event heptathlon, good for seventh place. Rollow set season bests in the 60 meters, 60 meter hurdles, and pole vault.
Senior co-captain Joe Stahley (Lewisburg, Pa./Lewisburg) and classmate Casey Caslin (West Chester, Pa./Henderson) were second and third, respectively, in the shot put. Stahley unleashed an enormous personal best-- indoors or out-- of 13.72m/45-0.25, and Caslin threw 13.68m/44-10.75.
In the mile, just 0.06 seconds separated fourth through sixth place. Junior Robbie Sansevere (White House Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) navigated a crowded pack to take fourth in 4:22.29, and his classmate Greg Clark (Chester Springs, Pa./The Hill School) was sixth in 4:22.35. Andrew Carey of Johns Hopkins dove headfirst in between the two to take fifth.
A second back of that chaos was junior Omar Hyjek (Sewickley, Pa./Quaker Valley), taking seventh in 4:23.32. In the last three indoor conference miles, Hyjek has taken fifth, fifth, and seventh.
Steinbock doubled back from the distance medley to take second in the 3000 meters, a race that consisted of an tense 2000 meter jog followed by an intense 1000 meter sprint. Steinbock ran that last kilometer in 2:40, only bested by Haverford's Chris Stadler, who won Track Performer of the Meet for his efforts.
The final competitors of the day, in the 4x400 meter relay, preserved the third place finish. Had they run 0.89 seconds slower, the Red Devils would have placed fourth in the conference. The team was made up of Boles, M. Sansevere, Manganaro, and first-year David Cook (Fairfax, Va./Robinson Secondary). All were in their second or third event of the day.
Pannell is likely to qualify for indoor nationals while other athletes may attempt to do so at a last chance meet next weekend.