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Date: Tuesday, March 5, 2002
Written by Julie Fox


MEDFORD -- Tufts University junior Bryan Pitko (Arlington, MA/Arlington) has qualified to compete in the NCAA Divison III Indoor Track and Field Championships. The meet will be held this weekend, March 8-9, at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

Pitko will be competing in the 55 Meter Hurdles along with 13 other athletes. His qualifying time (7.69) ranks him tied for eighth among the other entrants. The preliminaries for the 55 Meter Hurdles are at 5:50 pm on Friday, and the final is at 3:35 pm on Saturday. He is the only member of the Tufts men's and women's teams who qualified for nationals. Several other Tufts athletes were provisional qualfiers yet narrowly missed qualifying for nationals.

Pitko, who also runs the 55 meter dash and the 200 meter dash, was the New England Division III champion this season in the hurdles with a time of 7.69 seconds. He also came in third at the ECAC Championships (7.73 seconds). His time at the Division III New England meet made Pitko a provisional qualfier, placing him on a ranked list of athletes to be considered to compete at Nationals behind the automatic qualifiers. The automatic qualifying time was 7.59 seconds, which only two athletes bettered.

The leading qualifier in this event is Enrique Llamos from Montclair State College. Llamos won the ECAC title in 7.56 seconds. Shawn Levinson from the College of New Jersey, who finished second at the ECACs in 7.71 seconds, also qualified. He finished sixth in the event at Nationals last year, and is ranked fourth this year. Also running again this season are the National second and fifth place finishers of last year, Ryan Rogers from Wheaton College, IL (7.53 seconds) and Chris Pearson from Carroll College (7.61 seconds).

Last season, Pitko came in third in the New England Division III race (7.74 seconds), just as he did as a freshman in 7.81 seconds. He also is a starting wide receiver on the Tufts football team, which finished 6-2 this season for its best record since 1998. This season he made five catches for 129 yards. He led all wide receivers with two touchdowns, and had a long catch of 56 yards.