Track and field teams rewrite record books at Williams Relays

Men’s and women’s track hosted the 2002 Williams Relays at Weston Field on Saturday, bringing together athletes from Westfield State, Colby-Sawyer, Amherst, Middlebury and SUNY-Cobleskill.

At a team meeting Wednesday afternoon, head men’s and women’s coach Ralph White informed his squad that it would collectively reset 20 meet records. “Everyone look at the board, and pick which two you’re going to get,” he said.

The man proved as good as his word. Last year’s team, which went on to win the NESCAC and Div. III New England titles (the women were Div. III New England runners-up), broke eight meet records at the Williams Relays – the most powerful performance since 1998, when all teams in attendance had combined for ten meet records.

This year, Williams bettered a total of nineteen.

“We got close to the goal. Set just a few, you know?” White joked after the meet. “The coaches sat down and looked at the records and saw that we could do it. The men’s sprint medley had to run well – four guys all having a good day – and they did. We knew we could count on the throwers to make something happen. People came out ready to perform.”

Colleen Doody ’03 proved her speed in the 400-meters, clocking 56.81 to take down Carrie Elson’s school-record 56.99 set in 1997. Her time places her fourth on the current NCAA Div. III performance lists.

Meredith Jones ’04 cleared 11’ 6″ in the pole vault to erase her own previous outdoor best and jump to fifth on the national rolls.

The four-by-200-meter relay ticked off 1:44.84, shattering the 1:47.23 school-record set in 1992. The men’s sprint-medley relay’s 3:29.61 (the medley entails a four-leg series of 200-, 200-, 400- and 800-meters) took almost two tenths of a second off the school record of 3:29.78 set in 1995. A split of 1:54 in the 800-meter anchor leg by Kevin Reilly ’02 was a critical component.

Trey Wright ’03 is still tops in the country in the men’s shot put – perhaps more so now. Wright tossed a 55’ 4″ bomb, improving on his own school record of 55’ 1.5″, which he threw two weeks ago.

Jenn Campbell ’05 made her debut in the 3000-meter steeplechase, an event that itself will debut at the women’s NCAA Div. III Track and Field Championships in May. Until this year, the 3000-meter steeplechase has been a men’s event, paired at nationals with the women’s 3000-meter open.

Campbell will be there for the official changeover – as of April 14, her time of 11:03 is the second fastest in the country. Campbell’s older brother Tim, who graduated from Williams in 2001, ran 9:02 in the steeple his sophomore year to earn All-American honors.

Among the other meet records, Torrey Baldwin ’04 whipped a 162’ 9″ mark in the hammer throw, a distance long enough to place her third in the national rankings. Captain Janna Rearick ’02 took the 800-meters in 2:14.66, putting her fourth on the Div. III performance list. The women’s sprint medley crossed the line in 4:10.24, just off the school record.

The relay meet format provides an annual opportunity to score more obscure events. The men’s and women’s four-by-100-meter teams – comprised entirely of jumpers – both set new school records of 45.5 and 53.3, respectively.

The women’s throwers four-by-100-meter crew tied the meet and school record of 55.1 – after having already dismantled a string of field relays. Field relays compile the four longest marks (each from a different person) in a given event. The women’s triple-jump relay bumped up to 105’ 8″; the women’s pole-vault relay now stands at 29’ 6″; the women’s hammer relay is an impressive 475’ 8″; and for the men, the shot-put relay moved to 147’ 2″.

“It was a great day,” said assistant coach Peter Farwell, who ran the meet from the finish line flight deck, organizing timers and clerks and troubleshooting video equipment. “The weather forecast didn’t look too promising, but we got away with only a couple brief showers. The wind wasn’t bad, so conditions for the distance events were good. People seemed excited to be out there – we set a lot of personal records today.”

Next week, the team heads to Amherst for the Little Three Championships, the gateway to the championship-meet schedule that will ultimately finish at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., at the 2002 NCAA Div. III National Championships.