BOSTON – Suffolk men's track & field had a down to the wire finish to capture the first-ever GNAC Indoor Track & Field title Sunday afternoon at Boston University's Track & Tennis Center.
With one event left on the schedule, the Distance Medley Relay, Suffolk clung to a one-point, first-place lead ahead of Saint Joseph's (Maine). The Monks managed to build a 10-plus second advantage over the first three legs – 1200, 400 and 800 – before Matyas Csiki-Fejer took over the baton for the Rams in the mile. Slowly, but surely the sophomore caught up to the Monks' Troy Hendricks before passing his competition in the seventh of eight laps. From there, Csiki-Fejer gained momentum, finished 5.07 seconds ahead of SJC's student-athlete to seal the deal for the blue-and-gold. Hunter Toyoda, Cole Bolduc and Justin Turner were a part of the conference clinching relay team.
Behind Suffolk's Medley Relay performance, the Rams edged the Monks off the top of the podium by three points, 119-116. Emmanuel finished third with 80 points with Regis (61), Lasell (48) and Colby Sawyer (40) rounding out the league's inaugural field.
The Rams initially grabbed the lead in the team standings thanks to its 4x400 relay team of Connor Baston, Joshua Smith, Robert Solari and Connor Abbotoni. The underclassmen foursome of three freshmen and one sophomore combined for a 3:32.46 to take the event.
Individually four Rams became conference champion across six events with 18 posting personal-bests.
Csiki-Fejer and Solari each garnered a pair of individual conference champion honors to go with all-league status and were an ingredient to a winning relay squad.
Solari started the day with a second-place, personal-best 6.18-meter performance in the long jump. From there, he won the high jump, clearing 1.75 meters, and 400, running around the track in a career-high 50.98. Solari was joined in the 400 by Abbotoni who took the third spot on the stage behind a time of 51.19, Smith (52.88) and Ben Cvitkusic (1:00.11). Smith's time of 52.88 was a personal-best for the Rams' rookie.
Csiki-Fejer, meanwhile, had his pair of victories in distance events, capturing the mile in 4:27.37 and clocking a 9:10.98 3000.
Toyoda and Keoni Geers logged career-highs in each event alongside Csiki-Fejer. Toyoda ran the mile in 4:42.25 and produced a 9.31.78 3K to finish seventh in both. Geers took 11th in each after producing a 4:50.39 mile and 10:06.49 3000.
Turner (4:42.68) and Joseph Robinson (5:06.54) also competed in the mile, placing 10th and 15th, respectively.
Baston best the 200, 16-runner field. His half trip around the track came in a career-high 22.97 to take home the conference title. He was one spot shy of the stage in the 60-meter dash with a personal-best time of 7.29. The rookie participated in the long jump as well where he leaped 5.87 meters for seventh.
Abbotoni was in the 200 as well and claimed fifth with a 23.48 performance.
Michael Balestra was the only Suffolk field athlete to earn league champion status. The sophomore sunk a 15.45-meter weight throw toss to take the title.
Matt Sambucetti, Frank Irizarry and Michael Power competed in the pair of field events. Sambuceti and Power had personal-bests in both. Sambucetti took fourth in the weight throw with a 12.40 toss and eighth in the shot put behind an 11.82 throw. Power, meanwhile, produced an eighth-place finish in the weight throw (10.61) and a 10th-place showing in the shot put (10.65). Irizzary claimed seventh in the weight throw (11.22) and 15th in the shot put (9.66).
More career-high performances came in the 60-meter hurdles. Tristan Smith locked up fourth thanks to a time of 10.09, while Irizzary grabbed sixth thanks to a 10.72 time.
Bolduc earned points for the Rams in 800 with a 2:03.51 time, good for second. Turner was also in the field, and finished ninth thanks to a time of 2:10.30.
Suffolk continues its season next weekend when it competes at Harvard's USATF New England Open Championships Sunday, Feb. 23.