Indoor track finishes strong at Nationals

With a contingent of nine athletes, the men’s and women’s track teams came away from the Division III National Championships with five All-Americans, one school record, and a seventh place team finish for the women. This year’s showing was a huge improvement for the women’s team that only sent one runner to Nationals last year.

The meet, held at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, started for the Ephs on Friday with the qualifying rounds of the 1500, 800, and 4 x 400m relay. Tara Crowley ’00 realized that she needed to be one of the top two finishers in her heat to qualify for the finals in the 1500m. In turn, she ran a smart prelim (4:40.78), finishing second in her heat while conserving her energy for the final. The top two finishers in each heat plus the next four fastest qualify for the final.

However, the 800m prelim did not go as smoothly for the Ephwomen as did the 1500m. Katie Worth ’02 and Katie Sharff ’02, both in the first heat, went out with the rest of the field at a slow pace. All six runners in the heat finished in a slow time of 2:21 and whoever leaned for the line was going to finals. Luckily, Worth leaned in for second in 2:21.27, assuring her a place in the finals while Sharff finished fourth in the heat in 2:21.48.

The one final of the first day for the Ephs was the men’s 5000m, headlined by tri-captain Paul Alsdorf ’99. At that point in the evening, the indoor track felt more like an outdoor track in summer as the Ohio Northern officials had problems with the thermostat. The temperature inside was estimated to be a steamy 80 degrees. Despite running in these balmy conditions as well as having been ill for much of the season, Alsdorf still managed to pull off a solid fifth place finish (14:58.75) and earn All-American honors.

Day two for the Ephs began in spectacular fashion as Crowley took the track for her 1500m final. While the race went out blisteringly quick, Crowley maintained her composure and therefore avoided being sucked out too fast. With two laps to go, she surged to lead. While the eventual winner caught her, Crowley stayed strong and finished in second place in 4:35.39. Not only did she earn her first All-American honors but she also managed to shatter her own school record time of 4:37, set two weeks ago.

Worth was next on the track for the Ephs in the 800m final. She knew that this time, there would be no holding back like there was in the prelim. While running stride for stride with Tufts’ Murphy, Worth was forced to run in lane two, which meant that she, in turn, ran farther than the rest of the field. With one lap to go, Murphy pulled away and Worth fought to maintain second. In a fight to the finish, two runners, one from Brandeis and the other from Wartburg, caught Worth and edged her out for second and third. Worth’s fourth place finish in 2:15.56 earned her All-American honors and concluded her incredible inaugural track season at Williams.

After watching her teammates’ stellar performances, tri-captain Meg Randall ’99 was primed for her own glory in the 5000m. After watching the men’s 5000m the day before, Randall knew that the heated conditions of the track would play a part in the race. As most of the field went out too quickly, Randall refused to be sucked out and therefore maintained her pace of 5:38 per mile. Slowly but surely, most of the field came back to Randall as they were unable to hold the brisk pace. With 400m to go, Randall turned on the speed as she saw that sixth place and an All-American finish was within her reach. In the last 10 meters, she surged to capture sixth place. Her sixth place All-American performance (17:53.81) is her first indoor All-American honor and especially notable considering she was the last seeded runner in the field of 13.

However, glory for the Ephs was not restricted to the women’s team as tri-captain Dave Stuhlsatz ’99 made the men’s team’s presence felt in the shot put ring. Winning All-American honors for the second year in a row, Stuhlsatz finished a respectable sixth place with a throw of 54’ 0”. He missed fourth place by 1 cm.

In the end, the women’s 17 points team points was good for a seventh place tie in the team scoring. This is one of the best team indoor finishes for the Ephwomen. However, this is not the end of the line for the Williams track teams. They begin the outdoor season with a spring break training trip to Florida.