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Rockland’s Gibson sprints to NCAA D3 60-meter hurdle title

GIBSON

GIBSON

Gibson aiming for even faster times

Terrence Gibson is the first male athlete to win a national title at Worcester State University. But the Rockland High graduate is not quite satisfied.

The sophomore sprinter blazed to the 60-meter hurdles title at the NCAA Division 3 Indoor Track and Field Championships Saturday held at North Central College in Illinois.

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Gibson, who set a school record with his 8.04-second clocking, is now focused on bettering that mark next season, as well as earning All-American honors again this spring outdoors in the 110 hurdles and 200.

His scintillating performance on Saturday, however, is not lost on him. By the time Gibson received his championship trophy, he had already received more than 50 congratulatory text messages, including one from his brother, Tyler, a senior at Rockland High who is headed to the University of Massachusetts Lowell on a basketball scholarship.

“Once I got over the last hurdle I knew I had it,” said the 6-foot-2 Gibson, whose twin brother, Tim , is a sprinter is at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

“It was an amazing feeling. When I saw that I finished in first place on the big board, I couldn’t believe that I was the best competitor out of all those schools in the 60-meter hurdles.”

Gibson qualified for the finals with his time of 8.10 in the trials, finishing just 0.01 behind the leader. He got off the blocks quickly in the championship heat and cleared the first two hurdles cleanly before ticking the final three.

His time is the ninth-fastest time in Division 3 history. The current record is 7.83. The meet record, set at the NCAA Division 3 championships, is 7.93.

“He got tremendous starts off the blocks on both days,” says Matt Swett, an assistant coach at Worcester State who accompanied Gibson to the nationals. “His block starts for the first hurdle were better than any other hurdler by far. He has amazing reaction time.”

Gibson fell short of his goal of breaking the championship meet record, but realizes that he has two years remaining to accomplish that goal.

“I think if I do more training and improve my technique I could get down to 7.9 or 7.8 next year,” said Gibson. “My main goal for this year was to break the D3 championship mark at 7.93 seconds.”

Gibson was slowed by hamstring issues last season and didn’t race in any hurdling events. He delivered a rather stunning effort at the nationals as somewhat of an unknown entity.

“We didn’t run him in the hurdles last year so a lot of the coaches were surprised and asking what year he is,” said Swett.

“It’s amazing that he was able to come in and run so well his first year running the hurdles in college. He has plenty of room for improvement. His speed is phenomenal. His form going over the hurdles is where he’ll make more improvements. He’ll get faster as he improves his form.”

As a freshman, Gibson won the 200-meter title (22.02 seconds) in the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference. He also earned all-New England honors by placing seventh in the 200 (22.47).

Worcester State head coach Al Halper isn’t sure which events Gibson will race during the upcoming outdoor season. Gibson is certainly versatile. He turned in a school record 6.96 for the 60 meters this season, the fourth-best time in Division 3. He also placed third in New England in the long jump.

“We have some flexibility with him,” said Halper. “He can run the 100 or the 200 and he’ll long jump and triple jump. Of course, then there are the hurdles. He has a lot of talent and we’ll move him around as needed. We’re very proud of him.”

Here and there

Milton’s Craig Bennett , a senior sprinter at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, earned All-American honors twice at the NCAA Division 2 championship meet held in Birmingham, Ala. Bennett, who ran the second leg of UMass-Lowell’s distance medley relay team that finished fifth in 9:53:96, clocked a 48.37 in his 400-meter leg. He also won honors for competing on the 4 x 400 meter relay team that finished fifth. He holds a personal best of 21.91 in the 200-meter and 47.40 in the 400. . . .

UMass-Lowell’s Shannon Cunningham (Foxborough) pocketed All-America honors as part of the women’s 4 x 400 relay team that finished fifth in a school record 3:44:04. Cunningham ran her leg in 56:18. A senior, Cunningham qualified for the NCAA championships in all four of her seasons at Lowell. . . .

Bridgewater’s Caitlin Fahey, a senior at Bentley, led her heat for six laps before tailing off to finish 16th in the preliminaries for the mile at the NCAA Division 2 meet. Fahey, who owned the second-best qualifying time entering the championships, finished in 4:59.70. . . .

Weymouth’s Elizabeth “Bud” Arens, a senior at Bates College, placed ninth in the 800 meters during Friday’s preliminary heats at the Division 3 championships, missing a spot in the final by one place. She led for the first 200 meters but faded over the remainder of the race, finishing in 2:15:07. Arens set a new school record in the 800 earlier this season when she turned in a 2:12:37 mark at the New England championships at Boston University. A graduate of Notre Dame, she earned All America honors last year as part of the Bates distance medley relay team that placed eighth at the indoor nationals. . . .

Canton’s Gerard McEleney is a member of the Norwich University hockey team that will compete in the Division 3 Frozen Four this weekend. McEleney, a 5-10, 182-pound sophomore forward who prepped at St. Sebastian’s in Needham, has six goals and four assists for the Cadets (24-3-1). Norwich plays Oswego in the national semifinals on Friday afternoon at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, N.Y.

John Johnson can be reached jjohnson49@comcast.net.
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