Women's Track Hosts Spring Fling Meet, Earns Second Place Finish
Issue   |   Tue, 04/07/2015 - 23:34

With winds reaching 25 mph and gusts even stronger than that, the Amherst women’s track team competed on Saturday in conditions far from ideal, yet still managed to set some personal bests. The excitement of racing at home, often only a once-per-season event at most for the team, carried them to some very promising results in their outdoor season opener.

The Amherst Spring Fling meet started out with the 5K, with Lexi Sinclair ’16, Lizzy Briskin ’15, and Savanna Gornisiewicz ’17 running to the front from the beginning and putting down an honest pace despite the conditions. These three, who all qualified as individuals for the indoor track national championships just three weeks ago, led Amherst to a sweep in the event with Sinclair taking the win in 17:49.14 (good for 13th-fastest Division III time in the country), Briskin second in 17:52.06 (15th in the country), and Gornisiewicz third in 17:57.27 (22nd in the country). With their performances, the three qualified for all championship meets, excluding the national championships, for the remainder of the season.

“It was a nice, low-stress way to start off the season. I haven’t raced outdoor in three years, so it was nice just to see what it feels like again,” said Sinclair, who was selected on Monday as the NESCAC women’s track performer of the week. “The 5K went well — we approached it as more of a workout for the first two miles and then finished hard, which was a nice change from the high-pressure meets at the end of the indoor season.”

In the sprinting events, individual indoor national qualifier Karen Blake ’17 led the team with winning performances in the 200 and 400. Her 25.51 200-meter time places her 16th in the country and qualifies her as well for all championship events throughout the season. She also led an Amherst sweep in the 400-meter, clocking a 61.45, with Victoria Hensley ’16 and Sarah Whelan ’17 running 62.92 and 64.52 for second and third, respectively.

The Jeffs were also buoyed by solid performances in the middle distance events. In the 1,500 meters, Sarah Foster ’17E, led the team running a 5:01.73 to grab 2 points with her fifth-place finish. The strong core of the sophomore class followed Foster, with Cat Lowdon, Cara Lembo and Tess Frenzel running 5:05.28, 5:06.00, and 5:07.38, respectively, to place in the top 10 in the event.

The 800 meters proved to be another successful event, with the Jeffs getting points from Hannah Herrera ‘17 (with a 2:22.73 performance), Kelli Ellingson ’15 (2:24.19), Keelin Moehl ’16 (2:24.80) and Olivia Tarantino ’15 (2:26.42). The race came through the first 350 meters in a tight pack before the race strung out, with Herrera matching the leaders’ pace through 600 meters and then hanging on to finish a solid third.

The strong performances didn’t just end on the track, however, with the field events more than pulling their weight to contribute to the Jeffs’ second place team finish. Kiana Herold ’17, who later in the day would win the 400-meter hurdles in 70 seconds flat, jumped 1.61 meters (5 feet, 3.25 inches) to grab first in the high jump, with teammate Becki Golia missing the five-foot barrier by just half an inch to get second. The Jeffs garnered many points in the long jump as well, with Taylor Summers ’16, Danielle Griffin ’18 and Herold placing second through fourth to add to the team total.

“Overall the meet was great. It was awesome to start the season off with a home meet,” Lembo said.

“The wind was very rough but we have plenty of time for improvement over the next few weekends.”

The team continues their season this Saturday, April 11 at the nearby UMass Invitational.