Women’s track second at ECACs, beat Wheaton

Nearing the end of the indoor season, the Williams women’s track team finished a strong second place at the ECAC championship meet on Saturday. The Ephs (64 points) finished only eight points behind meet winners Lincoln University (72). Lincoln is the defending national outdoor champion.

Williams beat Wheaton College (62.5) after finishing a close second to Wheaton at the Division III New England championships two weeks ago. Wheaton is the defending national indoor champion. Tufts (35) and Hamilton (32) rounded out the top five teams.

“To finish up between Lincoln and Wheaton was awesome,” said assistant coach Kristen Morwick. “Those teams are so strong, both defending national champions, but we showed we can compete right up there with them.” Williams’ victory over Wheaton was especially sweet for the team after having finished behind Wheaton at New Englands. “It was really exciting to finally beat Wheaton,” stated senior co-captain Tara Crowley.

Crowley led the Ephs with a stunning victory in the 800-meter race. She ran with the pack for the first three laps before pulling away on the final lap to finish first by over two seconds. “I felt great during the 800,” said Crowley, “the best I’ve felt all season.” Crowley’s final time was 2:13.86, which automatically qualifies her for the NCAA championship meet. Crowley was followed in the 800 by teammate Katie Worth ’02, who finished fifth with a time of 2:16.54.

Crowley and Worth also ran on the winning 4×800 relay team, along with Julie Shapiro ’03 and Terri O’Brien ’02. The relay team finished first with a time of 9:25.80, just one second off the school record. Shapiro ran a strong first leg, putting the team in third place position. Worth passed one of her competitors on the second leg.

O’Brien finished the third leg neck in neck for first place, handing off to Crowley, who anchored the relay with a split of 2:16. “I felt really good in the relay,” said Crowley. “When I got the baton from Terri, I just took off. We won this event last year, and I wanted to win it again.”

Williams crowned its other individual champion in the shot put. First-year Healy Thompson won with a throw of 43’01.75. She was followed by teammate Diane Williams ’02, who captured second place with a throw of 41’10.00. “Our throwers did really well,” commented Morwick. “Diane had already qualified provisionally for nationals, but this throw moves her up in the rankings and increases her chance of going to nationals.”

The Ephs also received strong performances from first-year Rita Forte, who placed third in both the 55-meter hurdles (8.25 seconds) and the long jump (17’08.25). Both of Forte’s marks set new school records.

Katie Sharff ’02 finished third in the 1000-meter run with a time of 3:00.15, a personal record. Sharff has been struggling with an injured quad for the past two weeks. “Katie ran an incredible race, especially considering that she’s been going in the pool for the past two weeks and that her leg still isn’t a hundred percent,” stated Morwick. “This race showed that she is ready for nationals next week.”

The Ephs also scored points in the 5000-meter race. Senior Lauren Krisko finished fourth with a time of 18:04.08. Joey Shapiro ’01 finished sixth in 18:22.35. “Joey ran a great race,” commented Morwick. “She ran a big personal best.”

Williams also scored in the 4×400 relay, finishing sixth with a time of 4:03.56. Senior co-captain Melissa Murphy, Janna Rearick ’02, Olma Fuentes ’03 and Colleen Doody ’03 comprised the relay team. “They wanted to run a better time,” stated Morwick, “but they still ran a strong time considering that [Murph] has been sick all week.”

“This was a good end of the season meet for most people,” said Morwick, “and it bodes well for the people going on to nationals.” Crowley echoed her sentiments. “There were a lot of personal records, which is always great. I thought we might have peaked at New Englands because so many people had personal records there, but we showed that we can keep getting even better as a team.”

Nationals will be held this weekend at Illinois Wesleyan. Forte (55-meter hurdles), Doody (400-meter), Crowley (1500-meter) and Thompson (shot put) will all be competing in open events. Williams is also sending a distance medley relay team to nationals. The relay, consisting of Sharff, Doody, Worth and Crowley, is currently ranked first in the nation. In addition, Diane Williams may compete in the shot put, depending on how she is ranked after her throw on Saturday.

“We’ve had an amazing season so far,” stated Morwick. “Hopefully, we will continue that at nationals.”

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