LEWISTON, Maine -- A successful cross country season in the fall and "from a track perspective, without question our best fall of preparation" have Al Fereshetian excited for the 2018 Bates men's track and field team. The Bobcats open their indoor season this Saturday at noon with a tri-meet against Colby and MIT in Merrill Gymnasium.
"I don't know if we've ever had a group so diligent and prepared in doing what they needed to do to get ready. They were ready to go in November," said Fereshetian, now in his 23rd year heading the program.
Bates has five veterans of NCAA Championship competition, including two All-Americans, and a number of other student-athletes looking to make the leap into the same category. "We have some great athletes coming back and good quality in every event area," said Fereshetian.
Here's a look at the Bobcats in three main event groupings: (1) Throws; (2) Sprints, Jumps, Hurdles, Pole Vault, Multi-Event; (3) Distance and Middle Distance.
Senior Adedire Fakorede (Newark, N.J.) has been established as one of the premier throwers in New England over the past two years, and enters his senior campaign with four career trips to the NCAA Championship, yielding two career All-America honors, for placing third in the weight throw in 2016 and fourth in the weight throw in 2017. The second-year captain leads a strong group of throwers including junior Tyler Harrington (Haverhill, Mass.), the NESCAC javelin champion who continues making strides in other throwing events. Junior Zach Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) is primed to take a leap forward.
Sprints, Jumps, Hurdles, Pole Vault, Multis
Seniors Garrett Anderson (Raleigh, N.C.) and David Dick (Ipswich, Mass.), who is back from a year away from the team, join senior captain Dacota Griffin (Fryeburg, Maine) to form an outstanding group of pole vaulters. Anderson and Dick project to be among the top vaulters in New England.
Sophomore Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene (Bronx, N.Y.) returns after an outstanding freshman season in the high jump, hurdles and triple jump, and after a strong fall season on the men's soccer team. Kimpolo-Pene, already Bates' best high jumper in a generation, represents another Bates athlete who could make the leap into NCAA championship contention.
Sophomore multi-event athlete Brendan Donahue (Wolfeboro Falls, N.H.) is another one to watch: Fereshetian sees him as following nicely in the tradition of recent All-America decathletes David Hardison '13 and Eric Wainman '15.
Senior captains Rob Flynn (Bedford, N.H.) and Jack Kiely (Severna Park, Md.) and junior Michael Somma (Colts Neck, N.J.) all have NCAA Championship experience in middle distance roles, and they comprise three of four potential members of a distance medley relay team that will look to return to the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.
They join a strong distance group that is coming off of a successful cross country season -- men's cross country placed third at the NESCAC Championships and fifth at NCAA Regionals, narrowly missing a team bid to NCAAs. Senior captain Stephen Rowe (Gambier, Ohio) and senior Zach Magin (West Hartford, Conn.) were both All-New England in cross country, while junior Henry Colt (Whately, Mass.), senior Ben Tonelli (Seattle, Seattle, Wash.), senior Matt Morris (Rockville, Md.), junior Ryan Betz (Indianapolis, Ind.), sophomore Justin Levine (Boca Raton, Fla.) and sophomore James Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) give Bates outstanding depth in longer races.
MIT is the perennial top men's track and field team in New England, and along with Colby will give Bates great competition to start the year. Next Saturday, Jan. 20, the Bobcats remain at home for the Bates Invitational, which will include Division I programs Maine and Bryant along with several Division III teams.
In these first two weeks of meets in a season that will stretch into May, Fereshetian isn't necessarily looking to finish first in team scoring. "I want to see how competitive the team's going to be, not so much in terms of points but how the guys compete all the way to the finish line," he said, "whether they're battling for first place or seventh place. That's the pattern we want to establish."