This past Saturday, the men’s and women’s track teams competed at Monmouth University, despite terrible weather conditions. Notable performances included senior Abe Gatling running a 51.90 second 400-meter and placing third, freshman Alfredo Mazzuca posting a time of 4:12:47 in the 1500-meter and sophomore Taylor Vann clearing 1.80 meters to tie the Vassar record for the high jump. On the women’s side, senior Aubree Piepmeier won the 1500-meter event by posting a time of 4:42:81. Junior captain Heather Ingraham came in second for the 800-meter event.
Head Coach James McCowan provided a summary of the events so far: “The season was off to a good start out in Arizona for our spring training trip. We had 10 personal bests and several school records run out there, including Heather Ingraham’s school record 400m run which is the top time in D III as of now. The Arizona meet is a great opportunity for our sprinters to run fast in early warm weather, and a good chance for our distance runners to get in some hard training and blow off the rust,” he wrote in an emailed statement. “From there, we have races every week through the end of the semester, with last chance ECAC’s and NCAA’s carrying on through graduation. It is a relatively long season compared to other spring sports, but the team has been working hard all winter (and for that matter all summer and fall!) so we are ready to get after it now.”
He continued, “The season breaks up into roughly four meets of early season racing before Liberty Leagues on April 19th. In these first few weeks, we will pan each of the team members through a range of a events at, over and under their primary event focus to help prepare them for Leagues where we will look to put our best foot forward as a team and set each individual up for success. Though we are a relatively young and small track team, we have been able to score well in the league and will look to walk away with several individual titles and a good team showing.”
Despite being a large group, the teams get along well. Senior Abe Gatling wrote, “The team dynamic is more cohesive than in years past. In previous seasons, there was a very clear divide between the sprinters and distance teams, but this year we’re more of a singular unit rather than two separate squads running on the same track.”
Junior Ariel Bridges credited the cohesiveness this season to the friendly attitudes of the new underclassmen members. “It’s weird being an upperclassman now, but the underclassmen have done a great job of forming bonds between the speed and distance side, which has been hard in years past because our team is so big,” she wrote. “I know me personally, and on the men’s side as well, we often mix groups for the 4×4 so it’s cool to get to know some of your other teammates that you don’t get to practice with every day!”
Many of the bonds formed between teammates this season have been a result of the team’s trip to Arizona over March break. This year, the team took full advantage of the nice weather and was successful in their events over the break. Junior Brian Deer explained, “Many athletes competed at our first track meet of the season over spring break at the University of Arizona Willie Williams Classic. I didn’t get the chance to compete due to injuries, and not every athlete on our team was able to join us for our spring break training trip, but those that did compete were, on the whole, very successful. I think I heard that there were at least two school records broken (Taylor Vann for long jump and 110m high hurdles), and many athletes set new PR’s in the events they competed in. Heather Ingraham, I’m pretty sure, has the number one fastest time in the country for the D III women’s open 400m, which was awesome to watch. I know a few competitors were disappointed with their performances, but it was the first meet of the season and they all are looking ahead to the other opportunities that they will have this season to compete.”
Their strong performances over break have the team energized and excited for this season. Runners hope to break personal records and make it to the post-season. “Over the rest of the season, I hope to see everyone reach their goals,” wrote sophomore Jonah William. “We are expecting to see lots of personal records, school records, and qualifications for championship meets.”
Gatling also wrote, “Each year our goal is to send athletes to the post season. We want more individuals winning liberty league championships, sending relays and individuals to ECAC’s, and sending some athletes to nationals. This year, we’ve set our goals pretty high, but that’s because we’re confident that we can achieve them.”
Like all Vassar teams, the track squads look to their fellow students for support. Bridges explained, “The track team is filled with hard workers, and it’s hard to support us because we travel every weekend, but there is one meet at home that everyone should come to a little later in the semester!”
That meet is the Matthew Vassar Twilight Meet, which will be held on Friday, May 2, at 5 p.m. on the Weinberg Track.