Track and field experience mixed results at Armory Inv.

Last Friday and Saturday, a select squad from the men’s and women’s track and field teams traveled to New York City to represent Williams at the 2003 Armory Collegiate Invitational, held at the Armory Track and Field Center, which boasts one of the few 200-meter MONDO-surfaced banked tracks in the region.

The Armory’s fast facility and strict qualifying standards raised everyone’s hopes for close competition and personal bests – times and marks that would no doubt land a few more Ephs on the national performance lists.

Unfortunately, the weekend brought with it more frustration and ambivalence than jubilation. Several of the Williams crew returned to campus Friday night and shrugged their shoulders – not a bad day, but not great. Probably could have gone faster, but ended up in a strange heat. The leaders went out too slowly. The pace lagged. It seemed a long way to travel to run the same time again, some said.

After surveying seed times, Matt Winkler ’04 was looking forward to pacing with a pack of Div. I horses and getting pulled to a 4:10 mile. Instead, “the pace went out too slow, and I didn’t realize that the heat I was in wasn’t as strong as I’d thought until too late,” Winkler said.

He took over the lead after the first 400 meters and never looked back, splitting his first half-mile in 2:08-high and his second in 2:04-high, breaking the tape in 4:13.21, a gaping four seconds ahead of the next finisher.

As it happened, the Div. I milers whom Winkler had seen in the rolls populated an entirely separate set of racing sections.

Winkler found he had won the “university” men’s mile run, while the boys from Villanova, Tennessee, Texas, Princeton, LSU, Purdue, North Carolina and Georgetown were placed in the “championship” mile – which, incidentally, Villianova star Adrian Blincoe took in 3:59.30.

Similarly, Ann Schorling ’03, Katie Marsh ’05 and Michelle Rorke ’06 scored high within their heat of the university women’s mile run. Schorling placed third in 5:05.71, Marsh fifth in 5:08.11, and Rorke 12th in 5:14.21 – fine times, but not enough for Marsh. “It’s what I ran last weekend,” Marsh said. “I was definitely hoping for something faster.”

In the top-seeded heat, Jenn Campbell ’05 came up just short of her 4:55 Husky Invite mile two weeks ago, covering the eight laps of the Armory in 4:56.97.

For others, the venue did indeed bring more satisfying success. Meredith Jones ’04 cleared 11’11.75″ in the pole vault, a new personal high. Captain Healy Thompson ’03 whirled for 55’2″ in the weight throw, her best this season, and marked a meet-record 49’5″ in the shot put, her second consecutive winning heave over 49 feet. Thompson’s performances garnered her honors as the “university” section Field Athlete of the Meet.

In the women’s 3000 meters, Caroline Cretti ’06 and captain Julia Bensen ’03 paired off at second and fourth in 9:49.46 and 9:54.40, respectively, both blitzing Campbell’s school record of 9:58.82 set last year. Captain Colleen Doody ’03 and Kali Moody ’05 each nailed down provisional times in the 800 meters – Doody in 2:15.66 and Moody in 2:18.33.

The women’s distance-medley relay team of Moody, Afton Johnson ’05, Doody, and Campbell clocked the national automatic-qualifying standard to the hundredth of a second, recording 12:01.00, dangerously close to last year’s school record of 11:57.54.

Among the men, Chuck Jakobsche ’04 led Tommy Hall ’06 and captain Mike Sheehan ’03 in the open 400 meters, sticking 49.79 to Hall’s 50.18 and Sheehan’s 50.27.

In his inaugural season Hall has now chipped off his personal record twice in the last two weeks, and Sheehan’s time reflects his first push at the 50-second barrier since the spring of his sophomore year.

Later, with the help of John Symanski ’06, the same three amigos returned in the 4×400-meter relay cranked out 3:22.20.

According to Head Coach Ralph White, none split under 50 seconds except for Jakobsche, who came through the anchor leg in “something very, very low,” unofficially around 47 seconds – the fastest time of his carreer, without question.

Captain Chris Garvin ’03, back from knee injury, got his wheels back under him in the 800 meters, ticking off 1:55.61 in his first half-mile of the winter. George Rodriguez ’06 broke two minutes in 1:59.45, the crest of his season thus far. Captain Trey Wright ’03 stayed around the 50’ mark in the shot put, sending the ball 52’2″.

Next weekend, the men return to MIT and the women hit the road for Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, for the 2003 Div. III New England Championships, the first major test of the indoor post-season.