Women’s track drops defending champs MIT at New Englands

Women’s track and field competed last weekend at the Div. III New England Championships, taking down defending champion MIT at its home track. After losing to the Engineers by 3.5 points last spring and edging them by just one point during this year’s indoor season, the Ephs were motivated to fight for every one of their 157 points last weekend. The team’s total was just good enough to best MIT, who scored 124 points for second place. Tufts finished third with 81 points.

Tanasia Hoffler ’13 performed exceptionally for the Ephs even by her typically high standards, placing no worse than fourth in five different events and winning three of them. The All-American won the long and triple jumps with leaps of 5.83 meters and 11.84 meters, respectively. She took second in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 14.63 and was a member of the Ephs’ fourth-place 4×100 team and first-place 4×400 team.

Hoffler had plenty of help at the meet. The jumps were a particularly strong event for the women: Brooke Johnson ’13 backed up Hoffler’s long jump victory with a fifth-place, season-best performance of 5.28 meters. Johnson and co-captain Karyn Moss ’12 also scored for the Ephs in the triple jump, taking fourth and fifth by flying 11.25 and 11.21 meters, respectively. In the vertical jumps, Jenna Adams ’14 continued to improve on her pole vault, clearing 3.80 meters and winning a jump off with an MIT vaulter to secure victory in the event. Julie Paschal ’13 scored for the Ephs in the high jump, launching herself over the bar at 1.53 meters to tie for sixth place.

“Jenna had a great win and a new personal record in the jump-off. It was exciting to watch, and we are all proud of Jenna for keeping her composure under the pressure and stepping up to the next level to pull out the win for the team,” Moss said.

In the sprints, the 4×100 relay team of Hoffler, Haley Stewart ’15, co-captain Hillary Higgs ’12 and Annie Lynch ’14 took fourth with a time of 48.19. Lynch also took fourth in both the 100 meter, finishing in 12.65, and the 200 meter, finishing in 25.41. In the longer sprinting events, Maya Harakawa ’12 continued to improve upon her breakout senior season, running a season-best 57.66 for third in the 400 meter and 1:02.83 for fourth in the 400-meter hurdles. Ashley Graves ’15 also scored for the Ephs in the 400 meter, running 59.30 for seventh. The sprinters could have capped off their day with an easy victory lap in the 4×400, as MIT conceded defeat and pulled their relay from the final event of the meet, but the team of Stewart, Graves, Hoffler and Desiree Daring ’13 refused to hold back. The group ran a season-best time despite the assurance of a team victory in the meet. Daring ran an exceptional anchor leg, holding off late charges from Tufts and Worcester State to seal the team championship with a relay victory.

The distance events also contributed big points to the team total. Moving up into a traditionally middle distance event, sprinter Rebecca Fine ’13 took sixth in the 800 meter, running a stellar 2:16.10 in what is becoming her signature event. In the 1500 meter, Olivia Delia ’12 and Anna Spiers ’15 both ran personal bests to take third and seventh in 4:33.68 and 4:40.75, respectively. The rookies stepped up in the long distances, as Alison Smith ’15 made a 20-second improvement on her lifetime record in the 5000 meter to run 17:23.96 for second place, while Amelia Ortiz ‘15 took fifth in the 10,000 meter in 37:46.59. Brianne Mirecki ’14 won the 3000-meter steeplechase for the Ephs in a time of 10:48.00. The distance crew topped off its meet with a hard-fought victory in the 4×800 run by Fine, Spiers, Mirecki and Delia. The foursome each traded off the lead several times with Bates and MIT before crossing the finish line victorious in a school record time of 9:09.51.

The throwers had a rough outing but still scored important points, led by a strong showing from Amina Avril ’14. Avril earned third place in the discus after throwing for 42.38 meters, snared second place in the hammer with a distance of 52.64 meters and claimed fourth place in the shot put with a toss of 12.48 meters. Teammate Eileen Becker ’12 edged Avril in the shot, after launching for a personal best of 12.75 meters for third place.

In his post-meet address to the team, Head Coach Fletcher Brooks complimented his athletes on their focus and determination, noting that the team responded well to their less-than-stellar performances at the NESCAC Championships the week before by returning with an extra competitive drive last weekend.

“The women did a great job stepping up to the competition and winning the Div. III New England  title. There were strong performances across the board and the team really came together to pull out the win,” Moss said.

The women will spend the week gearing up for yet another championship race. After a solid week of training, they will next compete on Friday and Saturday at the All-New England Championships, hosted by archrival MIT. The women will also have another opportunity to compete at ECACs, hosted by RPI on May 17-18. ECACs will be the women’s final opportunity to qualify athletes for the Div. III NCAA meet.

Div. III NCAA Championships will be on May 24-26 in Claremont, Calif. With the women’s success in the regular season, the Ephs currently have 11 athletes in qualifying positions. Qualifying lists are not yet finalized, but the women look to send a strong contingent to Nationals.

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