Women’s track, field shines at Div. III Championships

Three men and seven women from the track and field team competed against the best college athletes in the country at the NCAA Div. III Indoor Track-and-Field Championships on Friday and Saturday, held this year at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. The women scored 29 points to place fourth behind Wheaton (who defended their title with a stunning 65.5-point performance), Wisconsin-Oshkosh (37) and Wisconsin-LaCrosse (30.5). Of the Williams men, only Trey Wright ’03 scored in his event. Wright’s four-point contribution put the Ephs on the board in a tie for 35th.

Healy Thompson ’03 marked 47’ 4.25″ to take the throne as the new NCAA Div. III champion in the shot put. Captain Diane Williams ’02 hit 44’ 5.50″, a new personal best by nearly a foot, to capture sixth and a square on the All-American podium with Thompson.The top eight places in each event carried All-American honors, a departure from years past, when eight places scored but only the top six earned All-American laurels.

Thompson, now a junior, last won the indoor shot-put title as a first-year in 1999. Williams, then a sophomore, placed fifth. Thompson and Williams went one-two, respectively, in the shot put last spring at the National Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

“Generally, when you throw at nationals and do what you did to get in, you’re going to end up an All-American,” said jumps-and-throws coach Fletcher Brooks. “Healy and Trey had solid throws, and Healy went from being ranked third to winning. Trey was ranked eighth and moved to fifth. Diane threw a personal record and she jumped from where, on paper, she wouldn’t have made the final flight, into sixth.”

The women’s distance-medley relay finished fourth overall, garnering All-American distinction themselves. Kali Moody ’05 opened with the 1200-meters in 3:45, after coming through her 800-meter split faster than her target pace. Claire Samuel ’04 then ran her 400 meters in 60-point and passed to Colleen Doody ’03 for the 800-meter leg.

Doody had qualified for nationals in the open 800-meters as well, but last week withdrew her entry in order to be fresh for the relay. Indeed, she more than proved her caliber, burning to a 2:14 before sending off Jenn Campbell ’05 for the closing 1600 meters. Even after having run her 1500-meter preliminary heat earlier in the day, Campbell crossed the line in 5:01 and stopped the team clock at 12:03.51.

Some 17 seconds ahead of the Ephs, however, was the DMR contingent from Wisconsin-Oshkosh, which with its time of 11:46.19 destroyed the previous Div. III national record of 11:55.81 that Luther College set last year. Wartburg (11:52.40) and Dickinson (11:58.04) were second and third, respectively.

“The first 800 meters felt so fast,” said Moody. “I felt like I’d hit top-end going into the third quarter, and I tried to kick, but it wasn’t there. When Colleen took off, though, it was incredible.

“On Saturday we got to watch a lot of the field events, and those were interesting to see because usually we’re warming up or cooling down, and we end up missing them. We had a good time and it was great to be there. Today we’re pretty wiped out.”

After running 4:42.49 in her preliminary heat of the 1500 meters, Campbell returned on Saturday to snare fourth in the final in 4:38.38, earning her second All-American certificate in two days. Regional rival Mary Proulx of Keene State beat Campbell in both of their showdowns, first by a half-stride in their qualifying heat (4:42.35, in which she and Campbell took first and second) and then by little more than a second in the final where Proulx placed third in 4:36.70.

Meredith Jones ’04, battling a foot injury, was 10th in the pole vault at 10’ 10.75″.

Wright carried the men’s contingent with his 53’ 8.25″ effort in the shot put. Wright’s mark placed him an All-American fifth in the assembled field.

Matt Winkler ’04 was sixth in his heat of the 1500-meters with a time of 4:00.1. He did not advance to the Saturday finals, which Ryan Bak of Trinity won in 3:52.31. Bak’s performance ticked just shy of the Ohio Northern University sports-center record of 3:52.05 that Amherst’s Robert Mitchell set in 1999.

“I made a move with 600 meters to go, like I usually do,” said Winkler. “I took the lead for a bit, but then I got out-kicked. So I don’t know. This time it didn’t quite work.” Kevin Reilly ’02 was fifth in his heat of the open 800-meters in 1:57.39. Like Winkler, he did not advance to the Saturday final. Both middle-distance men are looking forward to the open air and faster times of the outdoor track.

“When you go to a meet and your athletes break even with how they’re projected to perform, it’s a good day,” Coach Brooks concluded. “When they improve on what’s expected, that’s what makes it more fun.”

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