Photo by Bob Paz
EAGLE ROCK, Calif. (Mar. 10, 2017) – Runners in nearly every event either shuffled the Caltech track & field Top-10 lists or showed marked individual improvement at the Oxy Distance Carnival Spring Break Classic
A pair of distance runners headlined the successful Friday meet for Caltech as sophomore Rohan Choudhury (Cupertino, Calif. / Monta Vista) and freshman Jena Srikanth (Fresno, Calif. / Clovis North) each cracked their third Top-10 list thanks to smooth execution in their lengthy races. Choudhury was destined to join the exclusive 10,000-meter club simply by running the race, but was not about to settle and debuted in third place all-time. Srikanth, meanwhile, cracked the 5k list to continue her perfect streak of a Top-10 time in all three collegiate races she has run, including the 1500m and 3000m.
"This meet was a great indication of how hard we've worked this season and what that has put us in a position to do by the end," Head Coach Ben Raphelson said.
Sophomore Michelle Marasigan (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / James B. Conant) chopped off more than three seconds in the 800m to move up from ninth on the all-time list to sixth with a 2:28.62, while classmate Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) ran her way to seventh in program history in her 1500m debut (5:08.10), placing fourth among all SCIAC runners. Freshmen Tim Krasnoperov (Pasadena, Calif. / Polytechnic) and Jesse Cai (McLean, Va. / Thomas Jefferson Sciance & Tech.) also impressed on the men's side. The former moved up to sixth all-time with a three-foot improvement on his final hammer throw attempt and looked to threaten his career-best mark in the discus on a pair of sector fouls, yet kept his composure to place third among SCIAC competitors. Cai, who ran the Beavers' first race of the day, clocked his first career sub-52 second 400-meter dash, crossing the line in 51.89 to place ninth among SCIAC sprinters.
All-time lists were far from the only achievements the team could lay claim to at the conclusion of the meet. Senior Lucy Chen (Boonton Township, N.J. / Mountain Lakes) continued her upward trajectory with a personal record in the 100m (14.54), beating last year's SCIAC Championships time, and a season-best long jump. Freshman Tommy Alford (Dublin, Ohio / Dublin Coffman) led a multitude of mid- and distance runners to record career days, dropping a second in the 800m (2:00.96) just six days after debuting in the event. Rookie Tiger Lu (Shanghai, China / Shanghai American School Puxi) made a return from injury to finish just behind Alford in a personal-record 2:01.50, beating his high school best by more than three seconds.
Another trio of rookies shined in the 1500m as Simon Ricci (Chicago, Ill. / Latin School of Chicago) ran a conservative first 800 meters before posting a dominant final 700 – a closing burst he had hinted at all cross country season – to finish eighth among SCIAC schools. In addition, Tanner Moore (Roseville, Calif. / Oakmont) bounced back from an illness to tie his career-best converted time (4:14.76) and David Fager (Miami, Fla. / Belen Jesuit Prep) turned an aggressive start into a 19-second converted PR. Those three were followed closely by another trio of returners in sophomore Michael Hashe (Plano, Texas / Texas Acad. of Math & Science), junior Chris Haack (New York, N.Y. / The Browning School) and classmate Gene Vaughan (Mission, Texas / Sharyland). In a slow heat that would have made a PR seem unlikely for anyone, Hashe ran an inspired race to record a 12-second career-best, while Haack came in just under his PR at last year's SCIAC Championships and Vaughan posted an eight-second improvement on his first 1500m last year.
Rookie Nikhil Poole (Arcadia, Calif. / Flintridge Prep) led the 5k field with a 10-second improvement from last week, but classmate Sam Blazes (Seattle, Wash. / Sidwell Friends) stole the show with a huge breakout, pacing his first 3,000 meters roughly 20 seconds faster than he ran in that event just two weeks prior. Sophomore Joey Hong (Milpitas, Calif. / King's Acad.) and freshman Bhairav Chidambaram (San Diego, Calif. / Canyon Crest Acad.) both used aggressive starts to post career bests as well.
"Several of the performances exceeded my expectations," Raphelson said. "All in all, I'm quite pleased with where we are at with about seven weeks remaining until SCIAC Champs."
Raphelson and the Beavers return to competition on Saturday, Mar. 25 at the Point Loma Nazarene University Invitational.