Men's track & field preview: Intriguing season begins Saturday at MIT

Senior captain Zack Campbell is a big part of the Bates men's track and field team's visions of success in 2019. (Brewster Burns for Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates men's track and field team opens its indoor meet season Saturday in a tri-meet at MIT, looking to carry momentum over from the cross country team's NCAA Championship meet appearance and combine it with significant talent in other event groups looking for their first competition of the year.

Highlights of last year showed the latest example a perennially strong team. Bates recorded national finishes in both the NCAA indoor and outdoor championship meets. The team also took second place in the New England Division III Outdoor Championships.

While the Bobcats graduated quite a few major point-scorers, including three-time All-American thrower Adedire Fakorede, All-America runners Jack Kiely and Rob Flynn, and pole vaulters Garrett Anderson and David Dick, other budding stars are primed for their best years to come.

THROWERS

Captain Zack Campbell (Brooklyn, N.Y.) forms a strong senior class of throwers with Tyler Harrington (Haverhill, Mass.) and Dan Marino (Marblehead, Mass.).

Sophomore John Rex (Andover, Mass.) is primed to improve upon a very promising freshman season and looks like he will be the clear top performer of the group.

"He not only knows what he wants, which is to be great; but he's doing what it takes to make it happen," said Fereshetian. "There wasn't a week that passed over the summer when he wasn't sending me a video of him practicing one event or another.

Rex, Campbell and Harrington will all exceed 50 feet in the shot put and weight throw, said the head (and throws) coach, and "how far they are over 50 feet will play a big factor in how good we are." Marino and sophomore Zach Smith (Waterville, Maine) give Bates five throwers who have 50-foot potential this year. And that's not even mentioning promising first-years John Everett (Winchester, Mass.) and Alex Gailey (Berkeley, Calif.).

SPRINTS / JUMPS / HURDLES

Senior Ryan Corley (Oakland, Calif.), and sophomores Ryan Giunta (Andover, Mass.) and Milan Lemon (Plantation, Fla.) head an intriguing but relatively unproven group that Fereshetian is excited to see compete.

Junior Beaufils Kimpolo-Pene (Bronx, N.Y.) has accomplished big things at Bates in the hurdles, long jump and especially high jump, although his track season is off to a slow start due to injuries. Meanwhile, Fereshetian sees big things in store for sophomore hurdler Elijah Coyne (Newtown, Pa.), who exemplifies a "really good" sophomore class. "He came in with not a ton of expectations, which he totally exceeded, and he's ready to take it to another level, which will be significant."

DISTANCE / MIDDLE DISTANCE

The sixth NCAA Championship meet cross country team in program history hasn't stopped running because the fall season ended. That's a good thing for the Bates track and field team.

Junior James Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) is the obvious frontrunner after his outstanding cross country season (Jones led Bates in 28th place at the NCAA Championships, adding his first All-America award to his list of individual honors).

First-year Bart Rust (Croton on Hudson, N.Y.), who won the Millinocket Half Marathon in December, "looks fantastic," according to Fereshetian. Following his outstanding cross country season, junior Justin Levine (Boca Raton, Fla.) will keep pushing for lower times in the 5,000 meters. Cross country captains Henry Colt (Whately, Mass.) and Nico Johnson (Frederick, Md.) further flesh out a potentially outstanding distance group.

Middle distance seniors Michael Somma (Colts Neck, N.J.) and Mark Fusco (Cheshire, Conn.) are the two holdovers from last year's 14th nationally ranked distance medley relay squad (9:54.84). That team had the departed Kiely running the anchor 1,500 meters. The leading candidate to replace him in that spot may be sophomore Ryan Nealis (London, U.K.). Freshmen Jackson Elkins (South Deerfield, Mass.) and John Mieszczanski (Chelmsford, Mass.) are two more intriguing middle distance prospects.

MULTI EVENTS / POLE VAULT

Junior captain Brendan Donahue (Wolfeboro Falls, N.H.) is the latest in a string of multi event standouts at Bates, a lineage that includes All-Americans Eric Wainman '15, David Hardison 13 and Joe Northrup '05. Donahue posted the 48th best score in Division III in the heptathlon last indoor season (4,374 points), then moved up to the No. 35 ranking in the decathlon outdoors (5,903). Fereshetian sees Donahue doing more. "I think he has a great chance of qualifying for nationals in both (heptathlon and decathlon)," said Fereshetian. "His only weakness has been speed and running, but he's done a lot of work to improve that. He's so good in so many more technical events that just getting a little bit better in the running events will help himself out enormously."

Also competing in multi events will be first-year twin brothers Liam Evans and Garrett Evans (Sauquoit, N.Y.). First-year Charlie Hansen (Washington, D.C.) will likely lead a pole vaulting group depleted by graduations.

"I have a very good group of first-years, who at this point are figuring it out, what their purpose and vision are. But their attitude is tremendous."