Women’s track wins fourth consecutive NESCAC Championship

The sun was out on Saturday at Bowdoin as womens track and field defended its NESCAC championship, prevailing over its conference rivals for the fourth year in a row. The Ephs scored 239.83 points, the second-highest total ever scored by a Williams team at a track meet, and won by over 100 points. Bates placed second with 107, and Middlebury took third with 97.66.

Emma Herrmann ’20 started the day off for the Ephs with a strategic 10k, sprinting to the finish for third place and a time of 36:47.51. Hers was the first of a string of impressive distance performances that propelled the women into the lead. Emma Zehner ’17 won the 5k with an season-best 17:25.70, followed by Anna Harleen ’18 in fourth with a time of 17:41.52. In the 3000m steeplechase, Elowyn Pfeiffer ’18 looked smooth over the water barriers and finished in 11:16.91 for second place. Hannah Cole ’17 was close behind in 11:28.76 for fourth.

Harleen came back to race in and win the 1500m, leading from the gun and employing her trademark kick to cross the line in 4:31.09. Harleen’s victory gave was her third consecutive NESCAC title in the event. With a strong last 600 meters, Carmen Bango ’20 moved up to fourth, finishing in 4:38.64. Showing their mid-distance depth, the Ephs went two-three-five in the 800m. Anna Passannante ’20 led the charge, running 2:12.95 for second. Yvonne Bungei ’17 continued her stellar comeback season with a blazing fast 2:13.84 for third, and co-captain Laney Teaford ’17 followed in 2:15.03 for fifth.

The Ephs’ hurdle squad was in full force as well, putting four athletes in the top eight in the 400m hurdles. Kayley McGonagle ’18 and co-captain Alyza Ngbokoli ’17 went one-two, running 1:03.05 and 1:03.97, respectively. Sierra Loomis ’20 and Leah Rosenfeld ’20 earned seventh and eighth, sprinting to the finish in respective times of 1:06.93 and 1:07.14. Ngbokoli doubled back to run the 100m hurdle finals, leaning across the line in 15.24 seconds for fifth.

At least two Williams runners scored in each sprint event. In the 100m, Kennedy Green ’19 flew across the line to win in 12.23. Ally Isley ’20 sped off the blocks and secured a huge season best, completing the event in 12.64 for fourth. Megan Powell ’20, Green and Denver Williams ’19 were well-matched in the 200 meter dash. Powell ran 25.49 for fourth, followed closely by Green in 25.52 and Williams in 25.66. In the 400m, Powell sped down the straightaway to cross the line in 56.64 for first place. Williams continued her excellent sprinting season with a time of 58.09 and a third-place finish. Isley, Green, Williams and Powell all brought their speed to the 4×100 relay and earned a third-place finish for the Ephs, covering the one-lap distance in 48.73.

Meanwhile in the field, co-captain Candice Dyce ’17 successfully completed the long jump and the triple jump. She won long jump by a margin of 1 centimeter with a leap of 5.48 meters and flew 11.82 meters in the triple jump soon after. Emma Egan ’20 went 5.09 meters in the long jump to claim sixth place. Kene Odenigbo ’19 later leaped 10.84 meters for fifth in the triple jump. Both Odenigbo and Egan also turned in impressive marks on the high jump apron. Helene Hall ’18 won the event, soaring over 1.73 meters for first place and cementing her spot on top of the national leaderboard. Egan and  Summer-Solstice Thomas ’20 both jumped 1.68 meters to tie for second. Odenigbo cleared 1.53 meters for eighth.

The personal bests continued with Katie Loftus ’19 in the pole vault. The sophomore won the event and continued to clear bars, finally flying over 3.55 meters for an enormous personal best. Stephanie Boulger ’18 also had an excellent day, clearing a season best of 3.10 meters for sixth place.

The throwers continued to impress, as their steady improvements throughout the year culminated in five scoring performances. Alejandra Moran ’17 flung the discus 38.48 meters for fourth place and was followed by Lauren Crist ’20. Crist threw a lifetime best of 37.65 meters for sixth. Moran also showed technical skills in the hammer throw, hitting a mark of 42.28 meters for fifth place. Loftus threw 37.54 meters for sixth.

As the meet began to wind down, athletes who had finished competing lined the track to watch the Ephs put an exclamation point on their victory with two back-to-back wins in the final events: the 4x400m and 4x800m relays. Loomis, Teaford, Powell and Williams won the 4×400 meter in 3:54.20, led by a strong finish from Powell on the anchor leg. Stella Worters ’19, along with Rosenfeld, Bungei and Passannante, ran a time of 9:21.85 in the 4×800 meter relay.

“NESCACs was a strong meet for us,” Head Coach Nate Hoey said. “The team competed with pride for each other, and it was great to see everything and everyone come together.”

The Ephs, ranked No. 2 nationally, will compete at home next weekend for the Div. III New England Championship. The action will begin with the heptathlon, 100 and 100 hurdles trials and finals in hammer, long jump and 10k on Friday and will continue into Saturday with the rest of the events.