Women’s track takes 12th at Indoor Nationals

This weekend, nine members of women’s indoor track and field represented the College at the Div. III NCAA Championships at DePauw University in Indiana. The team displayed strong performances and earned several All-American honors en route to a 12th place finish.

Hillary Higgs ’12 ran a personal best in the preliminary rounds for the 400 meter, with a time of 56.97 that qualified her to advance to the finals. Higgs went on to finish sixth in the event, good enough to claim All-American honors, which go to the top eight finishers in any event. Higgs has proved herself a multi-event threat, finishing first in both the 200 meter and 400 meter in the women’s Div. III New England Championship meet in February. Higgs’ results that weekend led the Ephs to claim the New England title, edging out last year’s champion MIT.

In the 55 meter hurdles, tri-captain Elise Johnson ’10 finished first in her heat in 8.12 before improving on her earlier result in the finals, finishing 8.09 for second place and the title of All-American.

Johnson, Higgs, Rebecca Fine ’13 and tri-captain Nora Mitchell ’10 then ran the 4×400 in dominant fashion, showing great teamwork to place an All-American eighth place with their time of 3:57.73.

The distance medley team, comprising Mitchell, Ariel Williams ’10, Lizzy Danhakl ’11 and Olga Kondratjeva ’10 followed suit, running a 12:02.35 to also claim eighth, just behind Middlebury.

Strong Eph performances continued on the field: Tanasia Hoffler ’13 placed fifth in the triple jump finals, earning her first career All-American title with her clearance of 11.53 meters. This comes on the heels of her season best jump at ECACs: Hoffler recorded an 11.86 meter jump at that meet for second place. Julie Paschal ’13 also performed well in her rookie NCAA appearance, jumping 1.66 meters in the high jump to end up in ninth.

“We had some amazing performances and finishes from everyone who competed,” Assistant Coach Joel Williams said. “As the sprints and hurdles coach, the highlight for me was seeing Elise Johnson finishing in second place just 0.09 seconds away from a National Title in the 55-meter hurdles.”

Head Coach Fletcher Brooks has also been honored recently: Brooks was named the New England Region Indoor Track and Field Coach of the Year for the second time in three seasons.

With the memories of a strong indoor season, the women now look forward to a promising outdoor season. The team’s roster will shift slightly, as multi-sport athletes change season, but the majority of the women will continue to run throughout the spring.

“Our success at Indoor Nationals points toward our potential to do really well in May,” Williams said. “Having been to NCAAs many times as both a coach and an athlete, I know how important getting the first trip in is for building confidence even if you don’t place top eight. With so many in the group having never gone to the NCAA Championships competing [before], it looks like a very promising future.”

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