PASADENA (Feb. 22, 2019) – The Caltech men's track & field team will look to improve its SCIAC standing in 2019 thanks to improved returning student-athletes and a highly talented recruiting class.
"Without a doubt, this is the best all-around team we've had yet in terms of both event coverage and talented standouts," Raphelson said. "We could see considerable improvement in our overall team performance this year as a result."
Caltech's distance and middle distance group are consistently a strength of both men's and women's track & field teams and this year is no exception. Junior captain Simon Ricci (Chicago, Ill. / Latin School of Chicago) and classmate Tanner Moore (Roseville, Calif. / Oakmont) are consistent factors on the cross country team and their yearly improvements have also translated to the track. Last year at the SCIAC Championships, Ricci advanced to the finals in the 1500m for the first time and Moore was less than half-a-second from scoring points in the 5000m. They'll be joined by freshman Gaurav Phanse (Fremont, Calif. / Dublin), who in his first season of cross country earned All-Sciac and All-Region honors while also breaking the program's all-time mark for 8k. In his track debut this season, Phanse became the fourth fastest performer over 3000m in Caltech history, running 8:47.57 at the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers Meet.
Sophomore Matthew Earney (San Diego, Calif. / Del Norte) is a returning scorer for the Beavers after placing 6th in the 1500 at last year's SCIAC Championships. Earney will look to begin where he left off last year and spearhead a middle-distance group also including junior Tiger Lu (Shanghai, China / Shanghai American School Puxi), sophomore Haoyuan Sun (Alexandria, Va. / Thomas Jefferson Science & Tech.) and freshmen Kellen Rodriguez (Fairmont, Minn. / Fairmont) and August Chen (Redmond, Wash. / Redmond). Senior Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) will be a key component and leader of the distance group. An important part of the program since his arrival on campus as a freshman, he appears on the Caltech all-time top-10 lists in three different events (3000, 5000, 10000). Fellow senior Michael Hashe (Plano, Texas / Texas Acad. of Math and Science), and sophomore Spencer Morgenfeld (Palo Alto, Calif. / Palo Alto) will also help in distance events. Morgenfeld represented Caltech in the steeplechase, running a strong 10:02.24 at last year's SCIAC Championships, missing out on points by just one place.
"We had a lot of people knocking on the door in the distance finals at SCIAC's," Raphelson said. "All of them are better than they were last year and I expect them to pick up close to where they left off. In addition to improved fitness, they're bringing added maturity this year. As they get older, they're able to broaden their focus to not just what they're doing in practice to get better, but what they're doing outside of practice to get better as well. That's when we see the biggest improvements."
Caltech's biggest offseason gains have come in the sprints/jumps events. Junior Jesse Cai (McLean, Va. / Thomas Jefferson Science and Technology) returns as one of the team's three captains and will lead a sprints group with three new additions. Freshman Jerome Seebeck (Chicago, Ill. / Walter Payton College Prep) will instantly help the group as a former Illinois State Championship-qualifier in multiple events, as will Shri Deshmukh, whose high school hurdle times should have him knocking on the door of Caltech's top-10 list before long. Returning senior Vaibhav Anand (Northbrook, Ill. / North Shore Country Day) and newcomer Harvey Scriven (London, England / Winchester College) round out the sprints group.
Freshman Peter Kulits (Everett, Wash. / King's) is set to bolster the team in the jumps events. The former Washington state champion in the triple jump has already made his presence felt at the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers Meet where he earned a second-place finish in the triple jump in his outdoor debut with his 13.69m mark. If not for the mark being wind-aided wind, the jump would be good for second on Caltech's all-time triple jump list, behind David Gates' school record from 1985. Kulits is joined by veteran jumper Alex Lettenberger (Glen Ellyn, Ill. / Glenbard West) who returns for his third season and is looking to showcase his improvements in the pole vault.
"Peter brings a unique energy to the team that's infectious given how hard he's willing to work," Raphelson said. "Johnny and Shri are really versatile athletes who will be able to contribute in the relays, hurdles and sprints at a high level. We're very pleased with what those three and the whole group have shown so far."
Sophomore Daniel Rostovtsev (Swarthmore, Pa. / Strath Haven) returns in the throws events and has shown considerable improvement already this season. He's eager to make his way onto the Caltech Top-10 lists in the hammer and javelin throw.
"Although we've been distance-heavy in the past, I'm seeing a vibrant, diverse team that is preparing to perform at a level we've never seen in competition," Raphelson said.
The team is aiming for steady improvement as they target the SCIAC Championships on April 27-28 hosted Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and the NCAA Championships May 23-25. Raphelson and the Beavers will continue the outdoor season on Saturday, Feb. 23 when they travel to the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges-hosted Rossi Relays. The first SCIAC Multi-Dual is scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 2 at Pomona-Pitzer.