Track and field land 10 All-Americans at NCAAs

Last Friday and Saturday, 13 Ephs – 10 women and three men – traveled to DePauw University to represent Williams at the 2003 NCAA Div. III Indoor Track and Field Championships. All ten women returned home All-Americans, as each scored eighth place or better in her respective event. Together, they amassed 42 points, a total grand enough to place them third in the country. Captains Chris Garvin ’03 and Matt Winkler ’04 pooled their fourth and third places, respectively, for 11 points, lifting Williams to 14th among the men’s teams.

Captain Healy Thompson ’03 had the most impressive weekend of her career to date, unleashing huge marks in the weight throw and shot put. Thompson took up the weight first, spinning out 56’3.75″ in her preliminary and 58’5.25″ in the final. Her latter throw not only secured her second place, but gapped her previous season best by more than three feet and bettered her lifetime (and school) record by a foot-and-a-half. Thompson returned in the shot put, which she dominated at 50’10.75″, finally beating rival Elizabeth Wanless of Bates for the title and resetting another personal and school record by an additional foot.

“This is what we were peaking for,” Throws and Jumps Coach Fletcher Brooks said. “We didn’t taper the training for New Englands or even the USATF Championship, and Healy lost to the Bates girl three or four times this season. But everything we did was with nationals in mind, and Healy threw great. She was amazing.”

For her performances, the U.S. Coaches Association named Thompson the female field event athlete of the meet.

Elsewhere inside the oval, Meredith Jones ’04 cleared 11’5″ to place sixth in the pole vault, and Kristin Moss ’06 summoned up 5’5.25″ in the high jump for eighth. “She needed to clear it when she did in order to place,” said Brooks, “which made it a big jump.”

On the lanes, the women’s distance-medley relay set the tone for the rest of the weekend by placing fourth in 11:54.14, dropping their own school-record time from last week by an additional seven-tenths of a second. Ann Schorling ’03 cranked out a solid 1200 meters, holding ground among the other openers, and delivered the baton to Afton Johnson ’05 for the 400 meters. Johnson, too, kept a steady roll through her handoff to Kali Moody ’05. Moody uncorked the 800 meters in a 2:14 split, firing up Jenn Campbell ’05 for the 1600 meters remaining. Moody’s push put Campbell in excellent position to reel in the rabbits. “I almost got the Brandeis girl, because she was falling back, but I ran out of time,” the anchor explained. “And it turns out that Mary Proulx [of Keene State] was right behind me, which I didn’t know.”

Campbell retied her spikes on Saturday for the 1500 meter final, in which she placed third with a time of 4:35.78. Captain Colleen Doody ’03 qualified for the finals in the 800 meters with a 2:15.57 in her preliminary, and came back seventh in the championship race in 2:17.24.

The distance duo of Caroline Cretti ’06 and captain Julia Bensen ’03 stepped to the line together in the 5000 meters. Cretti kept tight among the leaders, rounding the 25 laps in 16:55.08, a new school record, to earn third. Bensen, battling illness, still clipped to an All-American eighth place in 17:22.17. She and Moss, with their single points apiece, were absolutely critical to Williams’ third-place finish over Wisconsin-Oshkosh, whose score after fourteen events left them fourth by a one-point margin.

Matt Winkler blew the doors off his personal bests in the 1500 meters, clocking 3:51.71 for third place. His time, roughly equivalent to a 4:09 or 4:08 full mile, replaces Bo Parker’s prestigious school record of 3:52.06 that has held court on the board in Towne Field House since 1984.

Keene State senior Mark Miller won the title in 3:50.03. “It was a fun race,” Winkler said with a laugh on Sunday, “because it was fast. I passed the kid from Muhlenburg because he was starting to fade, which put me in second behind Miller, but then the guy fought back into it. We sort of jockeyed around the last couple turns, and, yeah, he out-kicked me in the final straightaway. But it didn’t matter as much because we’d run 3:51.”

Garvin pulled up behind regional rival Brian Anderson of MIT in the 800-meter preliminary, sprinting from the back of the pack in the closing seconds of the race to secure a spot in the finals. Garvin had to repeat the same 200-meter mad dash in the championship section to ensure that he place. “The races were more tactical than fast, except for Matt Groose, who got out in front and stayed there. I got sort of stuck, but was able to kick out of where I was in time.” Garvin recorded 1:54.87 for fourth place.

Captain Trey Wright ’03 had a tough day in the shot put circle, but he wasn’t alone. Major events often have a “house shot,” a shot that throwers are allowed to use if the one that they bring does not pass official weigh-in. A measurement error on Saturday morning let a light DePauw University house shot pass inspection. A number of athletes used the shot; the event progressed according to schedule. Upon contest and review, however, officials reweighed the house shot and found it was indeed a half-pound too light, consistent with a number of the athlete’s comments that the house shot hadn’t felt quite right. Officials scrapped the event, scheduled a restart, and left the throwers to prepare. The second-round results were not at all like the first – some men, such as Wright, who had placed in the first round, did not make the final upon retrial; others who had washed out of the original preliminaries found themselves finalists.

Next weekend most of the team will pack their bags for spring break – two weeks of two-a-days at N.C. State in Raleigh, North Carolina. Freshman shovel crews have high hopes that an early breaking spring in the Berkshires, sometime before April 7, might have the outdoor track clear and ready upon the squad’s return.