The end of a season is a true test of a team’s ability to come together as a cohesive unit, which is especially important for sports with individual events like track. Last weekend, the team had the home field advantage when five other colleges came to compete in the men’s and women’s Liberty League Championships.
Going into the meet, the Brewers had a lot to prove. The program is smaller in numbers and younger than those of their competitors. Sophomore Brian Deer admitted that this put some added pressure on the team. “Our team goals for Liberty Leagues were really to show up, score points, and show the league…that we have what it takes to be contenders,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “To accomplish this, we had a good amount of athletes doing different events than they usually do, or doing more events than they normally would. The coaches put people in events based on their chances at scoring points, and I think we were largely successful.”
Sophomore Sean Majer described the strategic placement that helps to bring the team together. “Ultimately we want to get people to obtain their personal goals, which in turn tie into the team goals,” he explained. “For some people it’s scoring in the Liberty League champion ships, for others it’s qualifying for ECAC’s or the National meet. Liberty Leagues was an opportunity for people to give back to the team what they’ve accomplished individually, as it’s one of the few meets in our season where we can score meets and be competitive as a team rather than individuals.”
Some of Majer’s teammates were able to accomplish their personal goals, despite earlier setbacks. Senior Sam Wagner was sick with mononucleosis for five weeks. He recovered in time for the meet and ran a 1:57 in the 800 Meter. Wagner was one second behind the Liberty League Champion, his teammate and fellow sophomore Andrew Terenzi.
Brian Deer cited this race as one of his favorite moments of the meet. “That’s a really exciting event to watch and seeing them go 1, 2 in the fast heat was totally awesome,” he explained.
Deer’s own goal was to get under 16:00 for the 5k race. Though the results were not as he had hoped, he was able to see his teammate, junior Lisle Schaeffer, succeed. “My race didn’t go so hot for a number of reasons, but Lisle did really well and broke 16 by a good amount,” he noted. “I’m really pumped for him and I can’t wait to come back to the 5k later this season to give it another go.”
The women’s team also had several notable individual performances. Sophomore Viviane Ford had a specific expectation for herself: to qualify for Eastern College Athletic Conference Championships (ECAC’s) in the 5k. “You qualify by running a time of 18:40 or faster. I ran 18:39 so I barely made it!” she admitted.
Her teammate, senior Kelly Holmes, cited the tournament as a huge accomplishment for the women’s team. “[A]s a spectator it’s really hard to pick a favorite moment,” she acknowledged. “One of the most exciting and emotional ones for me was when Viv Ford finished her 5k and qualified for ECAC’s. That’s been a big goal of hers for a long time and everyone knew it. I was so proud watching it all come together for her and see her throw her arms up in celebration as she crossed the line.”
Sophomore Heather Ingraham earned the most points for her team, taking first place in the 400 Meter Dash, and 4×100 and 4×400 Meter Relays. The latter was a moment of accomplishment for Ingraham. “I think the most exciting part of the meet was watching Kelly [Holmes] run the last leg of our 4×4 and edge out St. Lawrence to take the win,” she stated.
Another member of that relay team, sophomore Ariel Bridges, had a strong showing that day, winning four out of her five events. Like Ingraham, she was most excited about the 4×400 Meter Relay. “My favorite moment of the championships had to be the 4×4,” she stated. “We were defending Liberty League champions and holders of the league record so it was important to us to protect our title! Especially since we heard ahead of time that St. Lawrence had a pretty competitive team this year. The end of the race was pretty neck and neck but our anchor leg Kelly Holmes…pulled it out on the home stretch. It was the most beautiful exciting thing ever.”
With the season not yet over, there is still a possibility for even more strong performances from individuals. Holmes has already seen marked improvement. “We’ve grown so much as a program over my four years here, especially on the speed/power side,” she remarked. “It’s really exciting to see that shift. My freshman year there were only 3 of us going to ECACs and now we have multiple qualifiers over a wide range of events, including relays. This season has been a lot of fun as well as a lot of work. I think we’re going to see it all pay off with some really strong performances in the next few weeks.”
Fellow senior Wagner agreed and pointed to both past and future growth. “Every year we approach Leagues with a higher level of confidence…Many team members, myself included, are now at points in their training plans where improvement becomes drastic. In other words, this is the part of spring where track becomes really fast and exciting.”
Freshman Jonah Williams has had a positive experience being on the team so far. “I am feeling really good about this season,” he commented. “I have been exceeding the expectations I had for myself coming into the season, and there is still time for improvements. I am also really happy with how we’ve been performing as a team.”
Majer credited his coaches with much of the team’s success. “On the season as a whole, I feel like it’s been a very natural progression of competition and training,” he wrote. “Our coaching staff, as I’ve noted in the past, really knows what our bodies need when they need it without explicit explanation; they just kind of know. And the performances are showing for it as we’ve seen tons of successes on all fronts…”
The upcoming Post Penn Invitational will be a chance to see if those successes continue. Ingraham expressed an optimistic outlook for the rest of the spring: “I think that our team has been having a really successful season so far, and I’m excited to see everyone’s hard work pay off as we enter the last few weeks.”