Men’s Track and Field Preview: Team will rely on depth, quality
Co-captain Rich McNeil ’10, an All-American last year in the hammer throw, will aim to make his mark in multiple events this season. (Photo by Tom Leonard ’78)
The 2008-09 Bates men’s track and field team will be marked by quality and depth this indoor season. This year’s team is expected to field the largest roster in team history, with more than 60 athletes on the early season roster. The size of this year’s team is expected to generate highly competitive performances through enhanced training groups and intra-team competitions.
“This will be a very difficult team to beat in smaller meets — our numbers will allow for quality entries without stretching any one group of athletes too far,” said coach Al Fereshetian. “We should also be a threat to compete with the top programs in the region, because along with our exceptional depth we will have quality performers in most areas.”
The 2008 team lost numerous talented team members to graduation, including the NCAA champion in the 35lb weight throw, Noah Gauthier; the Bates record holder in the pentathlon, John Miley; and Emmanuel Drabo, All-New England and ECAC in the triple jump. However, Fereshetian is confident his team will be even stronger this season with many returning athletes ready to step into some of the key vacancies. Bates will also rely on a large and talented group of first-year athletes to round out the roster.
Leading this year’s team will be senior captains CJ Murray and Mike Watson, both middle distance runners. Also, stepping into leadership roles are junior captains Rich McNeil, Steve Fukuda and Jerome Bennett. McNeil won All-American honors last spring in the hammer throw and will look to continue his success in the hammer throw as well as the 35lb weight throw, shot put and discus in the outdoor season. Fukuda leads a young and talented group of sprinters, while Bennett will be one of the top pole vaulters in the region. Other returners who are expected to make an impact are juniors Mark Liu (throws), Doug Brecher (distance) and Peter Garber (pole vault), as well as sophomores Brett Epler (hurdles & multi-events), Ryan Quinn (sprints), Joe Musso and Tom Esponette (middle distances).
Peter Garber is one of three returning pole vaulters on the Bobcats. (Photo by Tom Leonard ’78)
New team members who will add depth and talent to this season’s team include Devin Dilts, sophomore transfer from Vanderbilt University. Dilts was the men’s cross country team’s top runner this fall and will aim to continue his success during the track and field season. First-years Zack Becker (jumps), Candido Bousquet (sprint, jumps, throws & multi events), Troy Calandra (distance, mid distance), Sean Colligan (distance), Peter Corcoran (mid distance), Sam Goldstein (pole vault), Mike Jaing (sprints), Nick Marinakis (sprints), Chris Okano (mid distance, distance) and Obichukwu Udeh (jumps) will also be looked upon to make an immediate impact.
The roster will continue to grow as the season progresses, as the Bobcats will welcome a few notable additions next semester. Naoki Kakuta, a Japanese exchange student who will contribute in the middle distance events, will join the team in January. Also returning to the team in January are juniors Erik Born (jumps), Carlos Castro (sprints) and Nick DeFrancis (pole vault), who have all competed successfully at the New England level in past seasons. Sophomore Chris Murtagh, 2008 NESCAC Rookie of the Year and NESCAC javelin champion, is scheduled to rejoin the team later in the year at full strength after off-season knee surgery.
The men’s track and field indoor season begins this Saturday, December 6th at 12 p.m. when Bates hosts the annual Bates Pentathlon. The full squad will have its first competition at home on Jan. 17, when MIT and Colby visit the recently resurfaced indoor track at Merrill Gymnasium.