Women’s track downs all rivals for New England title

Last weekend, women’s indoor track and field traveled to the University of Southern Maine for the New England Division III championships. With its exceptional performances, the team was able to win back the Division III title from rival MIT, which had defeated Williams last year. Williams, which was considered the underdog coming into the race, decisively claimed the victory with 156 points, far outpacing MIT’s 90 point score.

“This was one of the most high energy meets a lot of us have ever seen,” tri-captain Nora Mitchell ’10 said. “We had a ton of really clutch performances across the board.”

Williams started the weekend off well as early as Friday evening, when Karyn Moss ’12 and Sara Turner ’11 took second and fifth, respectively, in the pentathlon. Moss earned an NCAA provisional qualifying score of 3119 and her performance, together with Turner, placed Williams ahead of MIT early on in competition.

The team went into Saturday with high hopes that were not to be disappointed. In the field events, Julie Paschal ’13 won the high jump, clearing 1.68 meters, while Tanasia Hoffler ’13 placed third in the long jump with a NCAA provisional qualifying 5.46 meters. Hoffler, Moss and Brooke Johnson ’13 represented the Ephs in the long jump and placed fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

Great performances continued on the track: Elise Johnson ’10 placed third in the 55 meter hurdles, while Jennifer Gossels ’13 placed a solid second in the 5000 meter with her time of 17:47.24. In the 4×200, Williams placed third. Comprising Johnson, Hoffler, Mitchell and Anne Kerth ’11, the group ran a strong time of 1:47.83. The women continued strong performances with Mitchell and Lizzy Danhakl ’11 placing third in the 600 meter and 800 meter, respectively.

Williams kept racking up points as both the 4×400 team – made up of Mitchell, Harakawa, Rebecca Fine ’13 and Katherine DuPre ’10 – and the 4×800 team – Olga Kondratjeva ’10, Olivia Delia ’12, Ariel Williams ’10 and Ceci Davis-Hayes ’11 – both placed third. Danhakl, Maya Harakawa ’12, Bret Scofield ’10 and Kathie Nyholm ’10 swept away the competition in the distance medley, placing first over 14 other groups.

Excitement rose as Hillary Higgs ’12 dominated the 400 meter with her first place, NCAA provisional qualifying time of 57.10. Higgs’ impressive result was also a personal best. The sophomore, who singlehandedly contributed 20 points to the Ephs’ win, also took first in the 200 meter with her excellent time of 25.60.

“This meet truly showed our team’s heart, spirit, determination and ability to work off of each other’s drive to bring out the best in ourselves,” Mitchell said. “Finally, after three years, we won back the New England Div III indoor title and it is an amazing feeling.”

The team will continue post-season competition with Open New Englands next weekend at Boston University, followed by ECAC Championships the weekend of March 5 at Smith College.