Women’s track and field third at NCAA Championships

The Williams women’s track team capped off a triumphant indoor season with a third place finish at the NCAA Division III championships this weekend. This is the highest finish in the history of the women’s track program. Williams finished with 34 points, behind Wheaton (47) and Lincoln (41). Christopher Newport (29) and Wisconsin La Crosse (26) rounded out the top five teams.

The Ephs won two event championships: the shot put and the distance medley relay. First-year Healy Thompson captured first place in the shot put with a throw of 43’-8.5”, her second best ever. Thompson’s victory is the first time a Williams athlete has won a national championship in the shot put.

“To throw like that at nationals where there is so much pressure is just incredible,” said assistant coach Kristen Morwick.

In an exciting race, the distance medley team of Katie Sharff ’02, Colleen Doody ’03, Katie Worth ’02 and co-captain Tara Crowley ’00 emerged victorious. The team ran a time of 11:59.46. This is the first year the DMR has been run at Nationals, so Williams set the meet record.

Sharff led off the race, running the 1200- meter leg on an injured leg. Sharff had been training in the pool for the past three weeks, and was limping before the race.

“Katie was so brave,” said Morwick. “She may have sacrificed her outdoor season for this race, but she sucked it up and kept us in contention. Nobody else could have done what she did; she was amazing.”

Sharff handed off to Doody, who ran the 400-meter leg in a season best time of 57.3 seconds. Worth then ran a strong split of 2:16.7 for the 800-meter leg. When Worth handed off to Crowley for the final, 1500-meter leg, the team was in last place. Crowley went from sixth to second place after three laps, and caught the leader with a lap to go.

“It was right down to the wire,” said Morwick. “It was her second race of the day, but Tara pulled through with one of the gutsiest performances I’ve ever seen.”

“I felt great during the DMR,” stated Crowley. “I’ve never run a relay at Nationals before, and it was so much fun to compete with my teammates.” This was the first time that a Williams relay team (men or women) has won a national championship.

Crowley also ran the open 1500-meter race, finishing third with a season best time of 4:37.38.

“It was her third race of the meet,” commented Morwick, “so her time was awesome. She was very much in contention for first place.”

Williams received another third place finish, from first-year Rita Forte in the 55-meter hurdles. Forte ran a blistering time of 8.15 seconds, shattering her own school record. “Rita’s race was incredible,” said Morwick. “She almost won, and her time was just amazing.”

The team’s other scorer was sophomore Diane Williams, who placed fifth in the shot put with a throw of 43’-0.25”. Her throw was a personal best by a foot and a half. “Diane deserves a lot of credit,” said Morwick. “She was seeded 15th. To move up to fifth with a huge throw like that is incredible.”

All seven Williams athletes who competed at Nationals earned All-American honors, which go to the top six finishers in each event.

“Every single person scored,” commented Morwick. “I can’t think of another team that can say everybody it sent to Nationals is All-American.”

None of the other teams in the top four had cross-country teams at Nationals in the fall, while Williams women’s cross-country finished third in the nation.

“I think we can rightfully say that we have the strongest overall cross-country/track program in Division III,” said Morwick. “The women’s cross-country and track teams have had the highest finishes at national championships of any Williams teams this year.”

“This meet was inspiring,” stated Crowley. Morwick echoed her sentiments. “It was an awesome two days. I was proud to be a part of it.”

Previously this season, the women finished second at both the New England and ECAC championships.

“This was a great indoor season,” said Morwick. “Hopefully we will carry this momentum into the outdoor season.”

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