Women’s track earns Div. III New England title, edges MIT 143-142

Last Friday and Saturday, women’s indoor track demonstrated the results of its hard training with a narrow victory at Div. III New Englands at Springfield. With nearly every individual out-performing her seed times and distances, Williams was able to mount a rally and top rival MIT by one point, banking 143 points to MIT’s 142-point total.

On Saturday, the Ephs competed in all events except for the pentathlon, which took place on Friday. To start off the day, co-captain Karyn Moss ’12 competed in the triple jump, taking fifth with an 11.57-meter leap. The senior was part of a strong contingent of Eph jumpers that included Brooke Johnson ’13, who took seventh in the triple jump at 11.17 meters and third in the long jump with a mark of 5.28 meters, and Tanasia Hoffler ’13, who won the triple jump with her 12.12-meter result and took first in the long jump at 5.61 meters. Hoffler was also on pace to win the 60-meter hurdles when she caught the second-to-last hurdle and tumbled to the track. By staying in her lane and finishing the race, Hoffler placed eighth and scored one more crucial point for the Ephs.

Julie Paschal ’13 broke out of an early-season rut to take second in the high jump by clearing 1.58 meters. Jenna Adams ’14 continued her excellent performance this season by clearing 3.65 meters in the pole vault, taking second.

The throwing corps also contributed significantly to the Ephs’ win, as the Engineers did not field competitors in those events. Amina Avril ’14 further established herself as a powerful force in New England throwing, taking fourth in the shot put with a throw of 12.40 meters and third in the weight throw after tossing for 17.11 meters. Eileen Becker ’12 launched a shot for 12.10 meters, earning seventh place.

Things were just as exciting on the track. The distance medley relay team of Adrienne Strait ’15, Dianna Mejia ’15, Julieanne Fontana ’14 and Olivia Delia ’12 took fourth in a time of 12:34.47 in the first track event of the day. Cross country national champion Chiara Del Piccolo ’14 continued to dominate the long distance events, easily winning the 5000 meter in 17:22.95 and the 3000 meter in 10:09.36 with her patient sit-and-kick strategy. In the 3000 meter, this strategy enabled her to pull along teammate Kaleigh Kenny ’14, who extended her phenomenal season by taking second with a time of 10:11.78, catching an MIT runner in an exciting final sprint. Del Piccolo was recently named the USTFCCCA Div. III Women’s Scholar Athlete of the Year for her cross country performance. In the middle distances, Brianne Mirecki ’14 represented the Ephs by taking third in the mile with a time of 4:58.03 and second in the 1000 meter, finishing in 2:59.33.

Highlights abounded in the sprints as well, as co-captain Hillary Higgs ’12 took fourth in the 200 meter in 25.78 and eighth in the 400 meter in 1:00.13. Rebecca Fine ’13 ran a strong 600 meter in 1:38.84 for fifth. The 4×200 team of Haley Stewart ’15, Amanda Murashige ’14, Annie Lynch ’14 and Ashley Graves ’15 flashed by in 1:44.56 to take third place.

Heading into the final two events of the meet, the Ephs were up by a tenuous 12 points. The squad was set to face formidable Engineer relay teams that were favored to win the 4×400 and take second in the 4×800. Earlier in the day, Maya Harakawa ’12 was on pace to continue a breakout season with a third-place finish in the individual 400 meter but was disqualified on a technicality. The resilient competitor shook off the disappointment and channeled her frustration into the relay, where she ran a fantastic opening leg to put the Ephs ahead before handing off to Murashige. She and Stewart widened the gap on the rest of the field. Rookie Mejia brought the baton home for the Ephs, who beat their season-best time by five seconds to finish in 4:02.47. After anxiously watching the final heat of the 4×400, the time proved quick enough for third place and six points. MIT earned 10 points in the event, but the women’s score vaulted them to an eight-point lead heading into the final event.

The women’s 4×800 relay team was again the underdog, hoping to run a fast enough time out of the slow heat to place among the top teams in the fast heat. The team of Delia, Fine, Strait and Anna Spiers ’15 put together a solid effort for sixth place, finishing in 9:46.65. However, an officiating error caused Strait to run just 600 meters while Spiers ran 1000 meters. It was unclear whether this error would be allowed to pass as the officials’ fault or would be grounds for disqualification. After MIT won the event in the next heat, this decision became the determining factor of the meet. Williams waited anxiously while the Games Committee deliberated for over 20 minutes on the matter, finally concluding that the time would stand.

On Friday, the Ephs competed in the pentathlon, the day’s only event. Moss, the only Williams representative in the competition,  started strong for the women, placing second and earning eight points for her team. Moss had an impressive showing in the pentathlon, winning the long jump, placing third in the 60-meter hurdles and taking fourth in the 800 meter run.

Head Coach Fletcher Brooks was pleased with his team’s performance. “I’m extremely proud of the women for what they were able to accomplish over Friday and Saturday,” he said. “It was a total team effort – the best I’ve had in my four years as head coach and certainly as good as I can remember back through my seven years as an assistant before that.”

The women will next compete in Open New Englands at Boston University on Friday and Saturday, where they will seek national qualifiers.

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