Women’s Track Races to Fifth Place at NESCACs, Best Showing Since 2008
Issue   |   Tue, 04/28/2015 - 23:26

Though the weather was volatile at the NESCAC track and field championships, going from cold and windy to warm and still, the Amherst women’s track team had a definitively sunny meet with many great performances across the board. The Jeffs grabbed a fifth-place finish as a team, their highest finish since the 2008 team finished fourth. The meet was the first championship meet of the season, starting a five-week stretch during which various championship meets take place each weekend.

The sprint crew was paced as they have been all season by their sophomores and juniors. Karen Blake ’17 continued her immensely successful collegiate career with her efforts in the 100, 200 and as anchor of the 4x100 relay team. Her runner-up finish in the 100 in 12.07 became the 10th-fastest time in the country at the distance. She would later follow that result with a victory in the 200 in 24.61 — not only a PR, but also a clocking that sets the meet record and makes her the sixth-fastest woman in the country at the event.

She was joined in the 100-meter scoring group by Taylor Summers ’16, who ran a 12.61 to place fifth. Though she narrowly missed a PR in the distance, Summers holds the fourth-fastest 100-meter time in Amherst history. In the 200, Sarah Whelan joined her classmate Blake with a PR of her own, registering a 27.52 for a big career best.

The success in the sprints carried over to the 4x100 relay and 400-meter dash as well, with the relay team bolting to a third-place finish (and third all-time in the Amherst record books) and Victoria Hensley ’16 grabbing a point with her eighth-place finish in the 400 in 60.77. She was followed by Itai Brand-Thomas ’15, who sprinted to a huge PR in 63.45 in the last NESCAC championship meet of her career.

“The team really came out to compete,” Blake said. “We had a lot of PRs and general support all around. I was happy to finally be able to PR in the 200.”

The Jeffs were well represented in the field events, and they picked up points across the various jumping disciplines. In the high jump, Kiana Herold ’17 and Becki Golia ’18 placed second and third to grab 14 points for the team, continuing to be an incredibly reliable two-person scoring punch in the event. Golia would also move into a tie for the third-highest jump in school history. Herold currently holds the school record.

Summers would just barely miss picking up points in the long jump as she leaped to a ninth-place finish with a 4.90-meter (16 feet, 1 inch) jump. Amherst got some solid points from two extremely promising first-years in the triple jump, with Abbey Asare-Bediako and Danielle Griffin getting seventh and eighth with jumps of 10.73 meters (35 feet, 2.5 inches) and 10.44 meters (34 feet, 3 inches), respectively. Griffin would also race to a PR in the second 400-meter hurdle race of her career, running a 71.85 in the event.

The mid-distance and distance squad was led by some nationally competitive efforts from their 10K runners and some solid results in the shorter races. With the sun beginning to warm up the day but conditions remaining in the mid 30s, Lexi Sinclair ’16 bided her time in the 10K after a Middlebury runner opened up an early gap. She took the lead around four miles and pushed on her own the rest of the way to get a PR of 36:18.87, a time that currently places her 13th in the country. Her teammate Lizzy Briskin ’15 also raced to a big PR, running a 36:40.43, the 17th-fastest time in the nation this season.

The Jeffs picked up points in the 1,500 meters as well thanks to a season-best time of 4:52.99 from Hannah Herrera ’17, an effort that helped her grab a second-place finish in her heat and an eighth-place finish overall. In other middle distance action, first-year Leonie Rauls led the team with her 2:21.51 clocking, followed by Kelli Ellingson ’15 (2:21.77) and Keelin Moehl ’16 (2:23.28).

Finally, Cat Lowdon ’17, racing her first complete 3K steeplechase of her career, clocked a 12:23.83 to qualify her for the Division III New England championship.

The team continues the postseason part of their season this coming Saturday at MIT at the Division III New England championships.