Women’s track sprints to 13th

Women’s track and field competed at the NCAA Championship meet this weekend and, despite several impressive individual performances, came up short of its goals as a team: Williams tied for 13th with 11 total points. Wartburg won the meet with a dominating 99 points, over twice the score of the next closest team.  Two Ephs, Tanasia Hoffler ’13 and Amina Avril ’14, earned All-American honors over the weekend.

The second day of competition saw the Ephs compete in the triple jump and the 4×400 relay. Hoffler, the defending triple jump national champion, set a personal record in the event with a leap of 12.49 meters that would have ranked third all-time in Div. III indoors until two monster jumps by Melissa Norville of Illinois College (12.54 meters) and Anita Rogers of Ramapo (12.54 meters) knocked her back to fifth all-time and third in the meet. In the 4×400 relay, Maya Harakawa ’12, Haley Stewart ’15, Rebecca Fine ’13 and co-captain Hilary Higgs ’12 placed 10th with a time of  3:56.15.

On the first day of NCAA competition, Jenna Adams ’14  finished 11th in the pole vault, clearing 3.60 meters, while Brianne Mirecki ’14 took 11th  in the mile, running 4:59.57 and just missing the finals. Hoffler also missed the finals of the 60-meter hurdles and the long jump, running 8.96 for 10th in the hurdles and jumping 5.21 meters for 14th in the long jump. Co-captain Karyn Moss ’12 placed 13th in the pentathlon with a solid per-formance of 3175 points, just under her personal best of 3231. Avril also set a personal best in the weight throw with a toss of 18.08 meters, good enough for fourth place. Avril’s result exceeded her seventh-place seed coming into the meet and earned her All-American status.

Since only the top eight places score, the women finished just outside of scoring in many events. The Ephs did not dwell on their disappointment for long, however. “Overall I think we came in and things did not go as planned, but because of that everyone is far more motivated for the outdoor season,” Higgs said. “We know our competition and we know where we need to be to get a team title, and that will be our focus for the coming season.”

The outdoor season holds a lot of potential for the Ephs, who look to improve upon their fifth-place finish last year with a top four podium finish at outdoor NCAAs this season. Hoffler will continue to be a force in the long and triple jumps, as she was an All-American in the long and claimed the national title in the triple last year. She also looks to dominate on a regional level and score at Nationals in the 100-meter hurdles and various sprinting events. Adams will also score important points in the pole vault after a strong indoor season. “I am anxious to start the outdoor season because I know that my consistency at 12 feet means a breakthrough is coming soon,” she said. Other contributions in the jumping events will come from Brooke Johnson ’13, a national qualifier in the long and triple jumps last year, Moss, who will be competing in both jumps and the heptathlon, and Julie Paschal ’13, a 2010 high jump All-American.

In the throws, Avril returns motivated to improve upon last year’s finish, in which she fell just short of earning All-American status in the hammer; she also looks to contribute in the discus and shot put. Kathryn Evans ’12 and Eileen Becker ’12 also hope to score in the throws and will be focusing on the hammer and the shot, respectively.

The sprint corps looks promising, as the team has added a strong rookie class of sprinters in Haley Stewart ’15, Ashley Graves ’15, and Dianna Mejia ’15 without any key losses to graduation. Crucial returnees include Higgs, Harakawa and Fine, as well as Annie Lynch ’14, a 100 meter national qualifier last year. Assistant Coach Howard Powell says that the emphasis going into the outdoor season will be on “staying healthy, working on becoming more technically sound so we can execute at meets, continuing to develop mental toughness and qualifying for Nationals.”

The distance and mid-distance group is also focused on health for outdoors following an indoor season that showcased the team’s speedy rookie class. Key first-years in the dis-tance and mid-distance events include Anna Spiers ’15, Alison Smith ’15 and Amelia Ortiz ’15, all of whom were forced to pull out of competition during the winter due to injuries. Other returnees who were held back by injuries during the indoor season but look ready to roll for outdoor include Olivia Delia ’12, a national qualifier in the 1600-meter last year, and Chiara Del Piccolo ’14, cross country national champion and an All-American in the 10,000-meter last year. Kaleigh Kenny ’14, new to the team this year, also made important scoring contributions during the indoor track season and is looking to build on that success during  the outdoor season. Additionally, Mirecki is hoping to repeat last year’s performance in the steeplechase: The Eph was a national qualifier in the event. She also hopes to contribute to the middle distances and relays this spring.

Key meets for the women this season include the NESCAC championships, where the biggest challenge will be a Middlebury team strong in the middle and long distances, and the Div. III New England championships, where perennial rival MIT promises a strong  showing in all events. The women’s primary focus is on the NCAA championship meet, where major competition will come from sprint and jump powerhouse Wartburg, thrower-oriented Wisconsin Osh Kosh and, again, an overall-strong MIT squad.

Over a training-intensive break, the women will also compete against Berklasse Meeting on March 24 at High Point and at Tufts in the Decathalon/Heptathalon Competition on April 6-7. A contingent will also represent the women at American International’s Yellow Jacket Invitational on April 7.


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