LANCASTER, Pa. - With a steadily improving team that features a returning All-American in junior Nils Michaelis, along with two other returning All-Centennial Conference (CC) athletes, the Franklin & Marshall men's track & field team is gearing up to be a contender in the 2012 outdoor season. The spring campaign officially started last weekend at the Hurricane Invitational in Coral Gables, Fla.
Head coach Carl Schnabel has a lot to look forward to as he enters his ninth year at the helm of the program. The Diplomats have nearly everybody returning from last year's squad, and several freshmen have already begun to make their names known at the collegiate level.
The Diplomats recently finished off their indoor season at the CC Championships on February 26th, placing sixth out of the nine teams competing. The team of Greg Olenginski, Luk Olenginski, Derek Pawlush, and Joe Strawitz grabbed gold in the 4x800 relay with a time of 7:58, beating out the second place team from Johns Hopkins by nearly four full seconds. What made the feat even more impressive was the fact that three of the four Diplomats are just freshman. The Olenginski brothers and Pawlush were each competing in their first CC Championship, while Strawitz, a junior, was the veteran of the group. Despite the absence of a few key athletes, including Michaelis - who was sidelined with an injury - F&M put together a solid showing at the event.
Other Diplomats that finished with strong performances at the indoor championships were seniors Steve Barna and Tim Tillman, junior Greg Duckloe and freshman Ibrahim Kamara. Barna secured sixth in the shot put, while Tillman placed fourth in the 60-meter hurdles and leaped to a seventh-place finish in the long jump. Duckloe ran to a tenth-place finish in the 3000-meters, while Kamara notched two top-10 placings, taking seventh in the 60-meter dash and eighth in the 200 meters.
Michaelis and classmate Brian Rivera headline the returners on the track for F&M. Last year at the CC Outdoor Championships, the two Diplomats finished first and second in the 400-meter hurdles, respectively, while Michaelis also set the meet and conference record in the 110-meter hurdles. In addition to Michaelis and Rivera, fellow junior Guilherme de Melo returns as an All-CC performer this spring. De Melo, who also competes for the F&M men's squash team, is back this spring after a second-place finish in the high jump at last year's outdoor championships.
After opening it's season in Florida last weekend, F&M returns to Lancaster with high hopes for the 2012 campaign. The Diplomats put together a solid showing down south over spring break against primarily Division 1 opponents. Angelo Arce placed second the 3000-meter steeplechase, Barna captured third and fourth in the shot put and discus, respectively, three runners placed in the 1500 meters, and Rivera came in with a sixth place finish in the 400 hurdles.
F&M returns to action this Saturday at the Dickinson Little Three Meet.