TROY, N.Y. – Over the weekend, four members of Franciscan University's Baron track team competed in the 2012 ECAC Outdoor Track and Field Championship, the largest number of Franciscan track and field student-athletes to ever compete in the postseason championship.
"This team spent a very long day in a van a few weeks ago, going to a meet in Michigan just to attempt to qualify for the ECAC championship," said assistant coach Dr. Alan Schreck, "which they did. They worked very hard over the past three weeks to prepare for this meet."
Representing Franciscan in the 1,500-meter run was junior Bill Jones, winning his heat to earn a new personal and school record of 3:53.65. Jones was seeded in a slower heat, therefore finishing in ninth place overall and just .12 seconds behind the eighth place runner. The top eight finishers are medalists.
"Although his season's best 10K and 5K times would have placed first in the 10K at the ECAC championship (by a minute and a half), and in the top three in the 5K, Bill chose to run his shortest individual distance event (the 1,500-meter) at the ECACs," noted Schreck. "Bill's time of 3:53.65 is a personal best and among the top 50 times in the event in the nation in Division III.
"Bill's training and competition plan this season has been to alternate shorter, faster races with the longer races, and so far it has succeeded admirably," he added.
Jones joined Morgan Gilcrest, Peter Schreck, and Jack Kaiser on the men's 4x800 relay team, and ran the opening leg to give Franciscan a fast start. The team did not place in their event, but did set a new school record with a time of 8:02.77, shaving almost three seconds off of the previous record set just three weeks before.
"Jack Kaiser's great 'kick' on the anchor leg propelled him past St. Vincent College (Pa.), to almost catch Vassar College's team at the finish," said Coach Schreck.
Kaiser was not one of the original members of the qualifying team, but stayed on to take the place of Mike McLaughlin who was forced to bow out due to a summer internship.
Freshman James Marra dedicated time to travel with the team to Michigan for the qualifying round and to the ECAC championship as an emergency alternate.
"All of these runners will be returning next year, and three were freshmen," noted Coach Schreck. "Their Christian camaraderie has been a boost to the whole team, as well as their success on the track.
"Credit for the team's success must be given to Dan Kuebler," Schreck continued, "who coached the runners on the team who specialized in the 800-meter."
Kuebler, Franciscan's head cross country coach, was a Div. III All-American in the 800-meter run while a student at Catholic University of America.
Jones now heads to Claremont, Calif., to compete in the 10K run at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship taking place May 24-26. More details coming soon.