Nov. 4, 1999
CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. -- Head Coach Randy Thomas has a lot to expect from his men's track team this season. "This is one of the most well-balanced teams at Boston College in a long time," said Thomas. "This team has a great mix of solid performers in every area and we should do a lot this year with the talent."
To demonstrate the team's balance, Thomas has named three captains, each from a different event area. Seniors Marshal Armitage, Erik DeMarco and Ruben Marin will lead the team this year.
Armitage represents the distance runners, a group stocked with talent and potential. In his three-year competitive career, Armitage has competed in every race from the 1000M up to the 10K and has been a consistent and solid performer for Thomas. Joining him is a corps of runners who have also posted great results, including senior Derek Holland, who has specialized in the 3000M steeplechase during his stay at the Heights, and junior Justin Burdon. Burdon has been one of the most consistent runners in the past few years. Last season, he finished no lower than fourth and took sixth-place honors at the BIG EAST Championships in the 1500M. Senior Brian Shafer will race his final season of collegiate eligibility in the spring, adding more experience and depth to an already deep distance team.
Freshman Vernon Mickle, a 1:53 800M runner, will make an impact on the track in his first year of competition. He will join Dan Fitzgerald and Mike McKenzie to form three of the four legs of the distance medley relay and the 4x800M relay team. Freshman Shawn Wallace may also find a spot on the team with a 1:55 800M time.
In the sprints, the team will look to build on a growing year last year, which saw a host of student-athletes reach new personal bests in their events. Captain DeMarco will look to guide the squad through the long seasons. He is a former high school New England Champion who has made great strides in his form in the hurdles and brought his time down considerably since his freshman year.
"This men's team has immense quality and depth in all the races: the 200M right through to the 500M, including the 4x400M and 4x100M relays," noted Thomas.
Senior Pete Vaglio and sophomore Bennett Valencia anchor the 400M and 500M races. Last season saw the two battle for top team honors each race. Junior Jeff Normant and DeMarco will race the 400M and 500M during the indoor season to prepared for the outdoor hurdle events, their specialties. Junior Mark Johnson returns to competition this year after a sophomore year full of persistent hamstring problems.
In the shorter sprints, Thomas must find someone to fill the void left by the graduation of Chris Fonss, who ran to a sixth-place spot on the Boston College all-time 100M list last season. Senior Matt Adams has returned from a junior year abroad program and he will be counted on to fill the hole. Thomas hopes that more strong performers will emerge from a talented group of freshmen, which includes Joe Miller and David Dundas.
The field events, Marin leads the way. "Ruben totally turned things around last year and will continue to improve this year. He's a great competitor."
The captain is a two-time BIG EAST Champion in the high jump, taking both the indoor and outdoor titles last year. He set new personal best of 6'11" indoors and 6'11.5" outdoors while moving up the all-time list in the process. At the IC4A Championships in the spring, he copped third-place honors, just missing the elusive 7-foot barrier by a half inch.
In the other jumps, several athletes will compete for top team honors. Bobby Stancil, a senior, has returned healthy and strong from a junior year plagued with injuries. Miller will also compete in the jumps, joining fellow freshman Gabe Verdaguer (a multi-eventer) to give BC a solid corps of long and triple jumpers. Verdaguer will also compete in the high jump.
The pole vault team returns this year after not competing at all last year. Seniors Jason Pink, who spent the year abroad last year, and Mike Moynahan, returning from a year of intense ROTC training, will again take their approaches down the runway.
The throwing events will surprise a lot of people, according to Coach Thomas. "This is a surprising team that is very athletic and determined." Sophomore Tony Bierne will look to build on a promising freshman year last year to lead the team in the circle, competing in the shot put, discus, hammer and weight. He will be joined by fellow sophomore Ryan O'Hagan who made great strides last year as well. Junior Joel Quintong also returns, adding further depth.
Senior Neil Koenig made great improvements in the javelin last year, improving to move into second-place all-time at BC. He finished third at the BIG EAST Championships and sixth at the New England Championships while setting a new personal best of 199'8".
Coach Thomas' team is experienced and backs up their competitiveness with proven success. With the addition of talented freshmen, the team has only gotten better and deeper. When the regional and national meets roll around in March and May, Thomas can expect to see many of his student-athletes participating, too.