Women’s track finishes a strong second at New Englands

Setting a slew of meet records and school records, the women’s track team trampled most of their New England competition to earn second place at the New England Championships. Wheaton College won the meet with 182.5 points, Williams was second (95.5), Springfield College, third (61.5), and Trinity College, fourth (60). The meet was held at Smith College.

The day started early for pole vaulters Melissa Purdy ’02 and Taylor Schildgen ’00 as Purdy finished seventh with a vault of 8’6”. Purdy continued on to compete in the pentathlon. Despite being hampered by injury for much of the season, Purdy came through in the last event, the 800m, running a great time of 2:36 to finish in fourth place overall.

Tri-captain Meg Randall ’99 started off the stellar performances in the running events with her fourth place finish in the 5000m. Her time of 17:48.15, a personal best, qualifies her provisionally for the NCAA Division III Championships.

While Randall was circling the track, teammates Shannon Mark ’00 and Diane Williams ’02 sought team points in the shot put circle. Mark threw a personal best of 39’ 7.25”, good for sixth, and Williams tied a personal best of 39’1”, which was good for seventh.

The next race for the Ephs was the 1500m, which pitted Tara Crowley ’00 against her long-time competitor, Middlebury’s All-American Kate Irvin. Crowley led from the start, and Irvin stayed with her for three quarters of the race until Crowley turned on the power and pulled away. Defeating second place Irvin by 3 seconds, Crowley won with a school record and NCAA automatic qualifying time of 4:37.8. The record had stood for 10 years, set by Anne Platt ’89 in 1989. Her time is the second fastest in the nation so far this year. Teammate Lauren Wiener ’01 also had a good race in a time of 4:52.6.

Jill Metzger ’99 was next on the track for the Ephs in the 400m. Despite being boxed in, Metzger came through with a strong kick to finish third in 60.89.

Next on the track was the 600m where the Ephs had 3 of the top six runners. Freshman sensation Katie Worth ’02 blew by the field in the last lap with her signature kick to win in a time of 1:37.09, breaking her own school record. Fellow freshman Janna Rearick ’02 also had a stellar race taking fourth place in 1:39.28. Tri-captain Courtney O’Connor ’99 finished sixth in 1:41.07.

The 800m was also headlined by a freshman talent as Katie Sharff ’02 ran a 2:20.82, good for fifth place. Like the 600m, it was once again time for the Williams show as Worth and Crowley sought another round of winnings in the 1000m. An Amherst runner broke from the field at the start and led until the last lap, when Worth turned on the speed and chased her down from 20 meters behind. Despite having run a school record 600m 25 minutes earlier, Worth showed no signs of fatigue and came through with a win in a meet record 2:58.2, the second fastest time ever run at Williams. Crowley was close behind and finished fourth in a personal best time of 3:01.58, the third fastest time ever run at Williams. Julie Cantatore ’99 also had a strong race and finished in a personal best time of 3:09.73.

The 3000m was the last running event on the track before the relays and the distance women did not disappoint with all Williams runners coming through in personal best times. Despite going through mile in a quick 5:30, the foursome of Sandra DiPillo ’01, Lauren Krisko ’00, Kate Dreher ’99, and Rebecca Atkinson ’00 stayed strong to finish sixth (10:27.46), seventh (10:27.52), ninth (10:29.46), and tenth (10:31.17), respectively. Elizabeth Roller ’01 also had a strong race to finish in an ECAC qualifying time of 11:01.97.

With just the relays to go, the Ephs had a reasonable lock on second place. But the Ephs refused to relax as Rearick, O’Connor, Worth, and Metzger came together in the 4 x 400 relay with aspirations of a NCAA qualifying time. Trailing Brandeis and Wheaton for most of the race, anchor runner Metzger mowed down the Wheaton runner, much to the satisfaction of the Williams supporters, to finish second in 4:03.14. This betters their previous NCAA provisional mark set last week.

The last event on the track was the 4 x 800 relay. The Williams contingent of Wiener, Terri O’Brien, Crowley, and Sharff knew that they would face tough competition from Middlebury and Trinity, but they didn’t know how tough. Third leg Crowley gave the Ephs a small lead with her blistering 2:20 split and then proceeded to hand off to anchor leg Sharff. Sharff ran neck and neck with the Trinity runner until Middlebury’s runner came up on the inside to surprise them both. However Sharff stayed strong and outkicked both teams’ runners to win the race in a meet record 9:33.95.

“This is one of the most exciting meets I’ve ever been to,” said Coach Pete Farwell.

“I am so proud of this team. They really got psyched for this meet and gave it everything and it showed,” said Randall.

Next week, some of the Ephs head to the ECAC Championships at Boston University where some will try to better their NCAA provisional marks.