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Wheaton men make history as two relays are crowned national champs
BEREA, OH- The Wheaton College men accomplished what no other Lyon track & field team had ever achieved at an NCAA Championship, capturing national titles in both the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays during the third and final day of competition at Baldwin-Wallace College's Finnie Stadium on Saturday.
Entering the meet with country's fastest times in each, Wheaton racked up 26 points and tied for fifth with New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) school Springfield College. Posting their highest team placement since 2002, the Lyons trailed league school Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) by a single point for fourth place and were two points shy of third. North Central College in Illinois won the championship with 53 points.
Having captured individual titles in the high, long and triple jumps at past NCAA national meets, today's crowns in the relays marked the first time in program history that a Wheaton athlete earned a national title in a track event. Entering today, only four Lyon men had ever claimed a national championship, as an additional seven will be added to the list.
Senior Merzudin Ibric (Revere, MA/Phillips Academy) ran legs in each relay, joining classmate Mark Cimino (Danbury, CT/Danbury), junior Raiyan Banaji (Mumbai, India/American School of Bombay) and sophomore Cailean Robinson (Newton, MA/Phillips Exeter Academy) for the 4x100M relay's top time in Division III this season, as the foursome sprinted to a school-record 40.77, which was 0.28 ticks ahead of runner-up Springfield.
During the meet's final race, the 4x400M relay, Ibric, junior Mark Williamson (Vienna, VA/James Madison) and freshmen Cecil Jeffrey (Framingham, MA/Rivers School) and Ben Miklovich (New Gloucester, ME/Gray-New Gloucester) won in dramatic fashion, edging out second-place Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota by 0.79 seconds. The Lyons crossed the finish line in 3:11.73.
Sandwiched between the two relays was Robinson with a critical race of his own, the 100M dash finals. Robinson provided Wheaton with an important six points while shattering his school record in the process. He clocked in at 10.58, which was 0.11 ticks faster than a program mark he set at MIT on May 21.
In addition to being crowned a national champion twice, Ibric added a pair of All-America awards to go alongside three indoor All-America honors. Like Ibric, Robinson has amassed five All-America accolades between the indoor and outdoor campaigns, while Miklovich and Williamson possess one from each season. Banaji and Jeffrey were competing at a national meet for the first time.