Scheetz ’12 Sets New School Record for 800m; Track Teams Prep for Stretch Run

Competing in a field of 35 teams, the Jeffs’ 11th place result was the best among NESCAC teams and the second-best of all Div. III teams in the event. Ben Scheetz ’12 led the way for Amherst yet again, continuing his remarkable season of record-breaking performances. To follow up his school record 600 meter indoor run in Springfield, Scheetz broke the school record in the 800-meter race with a blazing time of 1:48.08, beating his fastest Div. III competitor by a huge seven-second margin. In fact, Scheetz’s time was faster than last year’s NCAA championship winning mark by over four seconds and was good for the second-best mark in Div. III history. He came second in the race to Michael Rutt from the University of Connecticut, a Div. I school, but only trailed Rutt by 0.61 seconds.

Along with Scheetz, John McGrail ’11 and Will Yochum ’11 had good results in long distance races. McGrail finished third in the 5,000-meter run with a time of 14:38.54, trailing the winner by only 0.27 seconds. Yochum came eighth in the mile run with a 4:15.41 clocking. The 4×400 team continued to impress, as the combination of Scheetz, Andrew Reed ’12, Matt Melton ’14 and Andre Gary ’11 ran a 3:16.67, good for sixth place. Reed attributed the relay’s sustained success to “both the quality of the runners as well as team chemistry,” adding that “we are all each other’s biggest fans and when we race we race for each other.” The team’s best field performance was a 13th place finish in the weight throw by Chris Eaton ’11, who managed to heave a mark of 16.57 meters.

Though no records were broken, the women were not to be outpaced by the men as they capitalized on a pair of top-five performances to tie for 21st out of 34 teams at the same meet. The women finished ahead of many NESCAC rivals, including Middlebury, Colby, Bates and, most importantly, Williams.

Junior Melissa Sullivan and sophomore Ali Simeone were crucial for the Jeffs as they both clinched fifth in their events, clocking in at 2:54.07 in the 1,000-meter run and 10:01.83 in the 3,000-meter race, respectively. Other standout performances included sophomore Lauren Almeida’s 15th-placed finish in the mile (5:08 time). Almeida then led off the 4×800 relay, helping teammates Amy Dao ’14, Keri Lambert ’13 and Eliza Schalch ’12 place ninth.

Sullivan said that the team’s runners are peaking exactly when they should, and hopes the Jeffs can sustain the momentum as they head into the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships (ECACs) this weekend. The Jeffs are also preparing for the NCAA championships the weekend of March 11. “This weekend was a great team showing. So far, the team has been really impressive during the championship season, having our best races, jumps and throws when it really counts,” she said.