Track and field vaults into postseason play

By Yoshi Hill '16

Hamilton’s track athletes commenced the postseason with a wide-ranging collection of personal bests and top finishes at the NESCAC Championships. Held at Tufts University, it is the only meet of the season in which track & field athletes from the 11 NESCAC schools participate. And this year’s NESCACs, which took place on April 27, brought some of the fiercest competition the Continentals have faced all season. Following the multi-faceted approach of Coach Brett Hull, the team contended in an assortment of events.

Senior captain Jimmy Alexis has had a difficult season hampered by injury. Nevertheless, his health and skill finally united at this meet with great success. He entered the day seeded fourth in the pole vault but erased all recollection of his injury-plagued season with an impressive upset. Alexis cleared the opening heights with ease and worked his way to the 4.30-meter mark, a height that only one other competitor reached. Determined to guarantee his victory in the event, he vaulted over the bar set at 4.45 meters and landed as the best pole-vaulter in the NESCAC. He is the first NESCAC champion in the pole vault from Hamilton since James Russell in 2009, who also holds the school record. In his 10th and final year of track and field, Alexis was ecstatic about the “opportunity to end on a high note … and use this momentum to get to Nationals.” He also singled out Coach Jerry Tine as a major reason for his success. “[Tine] has taught me through the years and I can never thank him enough.” This historic result highlighted a productive meet for the Continentals.

Hannah Jaiven ’14 captured another one of Hamilton’s successes in the pole vault with a third place finish. It has been quite the breakout season for Jaiven, who has developed into one of the top pole vaulters in the NESCAC. She admits that while she would have liked to have taken the title, “I do take pride in representing and scoring points for my team.” Jimmy Alexis ’13 lauded her, saying, “she is hands down the most talented pole-vaulting teammate I’ve had through the years.” Jaiven is primed for an excellent senior season and is only a few inches away from qualifying for the NCAA meet, which is her ultimate goal for the season.

Elsewhere, there were solid results in the triple jump for first-years Michael Nkereuwem and Leonard Kilekwang, who finished fifth and eighth, respectively. Junior Sampson Reider dashed to a ninth-place finish in the 400 meters. In a season of significant growth, several athletes set their personal records at the meet. Evan Ableson ’16 and James Bryan ’16 both set personal bests in the 1500 meters. Jake London ’14 captured his personal best in the 200 with a time of 22.98 seconds. Lastly, Jack Moses ’16 pushed through the arduous steeplechase event in a personal record 10:24.27.

The women’s team pulled through with many strong performances. Both Rachel Cackett ’13 and Hannah Kloeckner ’14 raced to personal bests in the 10K race. Their performances have been steadily improving this year and they peaked at the perfect time. In the 5K race, first-year Alex Reading battered her previous personal best by a considerable 46 seconds. Coach Ellen Hull praised the 4 x 800 team of Jessye McGarry ’16, Tina Choinski ’15, Emily Heckman ’13 and Catherine Oglevee ’15 for a strong eighth place showing in a competitive field.

Alexis recalls that at the NESCAC meet, he told the team, “It’s the last chance dance.” Looking ahead to States next weekend, he believes the same saying still applies and that the team “just needs to get out there and really go for it.” He also hopes to see the men’s team continue to work on building team chemistry, which has already been “carrying over into our performance.” The Continentals head to Saint Lawrence University for their next postseason meet on May 3 and 4 for the NYSCTC Championships.


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