Women’s track and field takes silver at NCAA Indoor Nationals

11 athletes from women’s track and field scored 37 points and placed second at NCAA Nationals on Friday and Saturday.

The majority of Friday’s schedule was made up of preliminary heats, and only a few events awarded All-American honors and team points. Kennedy Green ’19 sprinted to a 60-meter lifetime best and broke her own school record with a time of 7.73 seconds. She crossed the line in seventh place to earn her spot in the final, ensuring that she would score team points and earn All-American distinction.

Earning a seventh place finish in the 800-meter event and a place in the final was Anna Passannante ’20, who ran a controlled and tactical race. Passannante looked smooth and relaxed as she sped up over the last straightaway to hunt down competitors in her heat and cross the line in 2:14.27.

The 4x400m relay team also earned a finals berth with a fourth place preliminary finish, clocking a time of 3:51.97. Kayley McGonagle ’18 started quickly out of the blocks and closed on the field over the final straightaway. She handed off to Kate Kennedy ’18, who powered down the backstretch and passed a competitor before handing off to Davis Collison ’21. Collison ran a strong first lap and kept up the pace, and Megan Powell ’20 finished with a stellar anchor leg for the Ephs.

Points were awarded in the women’s long jump, and Izabelle Ith ’21 rose to the challenge of her first national championship meet. On her third jump, Ith leaped 5.61m into the sand. She placed sixth, earning All-American honors, three team points and a place on the podium at her first national meet.

As a testament to the versatility of Williams’ jump squad, two Ephs claimed spots in the top eight of the pentathlon. Both Summer-Solstice Thomas ’20 and Emma Egan ’20 began the day with personal-best times in the hurdles, crossing the line in 9.47 and 9.30 seconds, respectively. Next, they tied for first place finishes in the high jump, both soaring over 1.74m, a personal best for Thomas. In the shot put, Thomas threw 8.59m, and Egan posted 8.97m. The duo proceeded to the long jump runway, where Thomas jumped a stellar 5.34-meter mark, raising her in the overall standings. Egan jumped 5m, short of her personal best but far enough to earn her a spot in the fast heat of the 800-meter run, the final event. In an exciting final event, both Ephs came away with All-American finishes. Thomas ran 2:26.93 to earn 732 points, and Egan had a five-second personal best of 2:32.76 to earn 661. The two stood on the podium, Thomas in fifth place and Egan in eighth place, scoring five cumulative team points.

Saturday began with the high jump, a historically strong event for the Ephs. The trio of Egan, Thomas and Helene Hall ’18 competed well and scored 19 cumulative points in the event. Thomas jumped high under pressure, making two third- attempt clearances at 1.68m and 1.71m to clinch fourth place. Egan did the same at a slightly higher bar, soaring over 1.74m on her third jump to place third. Hall had a clear card up until the 1.74-meter bar, which she missed once. On her second attempt, however, she had such a powerful takeoff that she cleared the bar with ease. Hall placed second and looks forward to challenging for the national title in the spring.

Passannante, after a season best in Friday’s preliminary round, had a breakout race in the 800-meter run. She dueled with a Bates competitor all the way up to the line and moved up steadily over the final lap to cross the line in fifth. Her phenomenal time of 2:11.51 broke the previous school record of 2:12.18, set in 2015 by Victoria Kingham ’18. Passannante far outperformed her seed time to stand on the podium, earning All-American honors and clinching four team points for the Ephs.

In the 60m dash, Green placed seventh for the Ephs, also scoring points, earning All-American honors and ending her stellar season with a time of 7.76 seconds.

The Ephs ran in the first heat of the 4x400m relay finals, the last event of the night. McGonagle ran a hard first lap of about 59 seconds and handed off to Kennedy, who blazed down the backstretch to put the Ephs in a good position going into the third leg, despite some jockeying down the final straightaway and into the handoff zone. Ella Dunn ’21 took the baton and ran a season-best relay split to position Powell right behind a pack of three runners going into the final leg. Powell dropped a ridiculously fast split of 55 seconds to sprint by two competitors and secure second place in the heat. The total time for the relay was 3:51.10, positioning the women fifth overall in the final. McGonagle, Kennedy, Dunn, Powell and Collison, who ran in the preliminary heats on Friday, stood on the podium and earned All-American honors in the event.

The Ephs placed second in the championship with 37 points, nine behind the University of Massachusetts, Boston. They were followed by Ohio Northern in third with 30 points and Washington University in St. Louis in fourth with 27.

Head coach Nate Hoey was pleased with the results. “What a weekend. To see as many [personal-record] and [season-best] performances as we had this weekend was outstanding,” he said. “They competed with heart and intensity. I could not be more proud of this amazing team. They carry a positive, hardworking attitude each and every day. It’s a privilege to be able to work with them.”

The outdoor season begins on March 22 at the University of California, Riverside.

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