Last year, the Vassar women’s track and field team sent two runners to the NCAA championships, with both returning from the event as All-Americans. The team also had 17 qualifying times for the ECAC championships, which also proved to be a program-best. Sophomore Molly Crowell said, “Last year was an excellent year for Vassar’s women’s track team. We made several notable appearances at elite levels and established ourselves as a force to be reckoned with in many different events. Coming off that, our goals this season definitely include carrying that momentum and making as big (or hopefully bigger!) of an impact as we did last year.”
The team has been working tirelessly to prepare for the 2015 season in an attempt to top their success in 2014. Crowell praised her team’s hard work: “I am extremely proud of the time and effort that every member of our team has been putting in in preparation for the 2015 season. Since we first gathered as a full team in January, I have seen everyone, without exceptions, determined to improve themselves in order to put their best foot forward on the line this year. We are unsatisfied if we do not achieve what we set out to do on any given day at practice. There is no one on our team this year that is willing to settle. It has been really encouraging watching everyone push themselves and each other to succeed, and I am super excited to see what we put down on the track as the season progresses.” The three team captains, seniors Nina Andersen, Heather Ingraham and Harper Cleves, with the help of seven other senior members of the team, will look to provide their squad with strong leadership throughout the season to keep to momentum rolling.
On March 20th, Ingraham and freshman Karmen Hutchinson competed at the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational hosted by Coastal Carolina University. Ingraham ran the 100-meter dash in the Invitational, with a collegiate-best time of 12.55 with the addition of a 0.7 head wind, tying the school record previously set by Ariel Bridges in 2014. Ingraham placed 27th overall in a field of primarily Division I runners, but she was still first among all other Division III competitors. On the third day of the Invitational, Ingraham posted what was likely one of her best performances of all time. She ran the fastest 400-meter time in the nation with a time of 55.92, taking first place among all runners in the event. She elaborated, “I’m really proud of my opening time in the 400 at Myrtle Beach this year. It’s a faster time than I opened up with at this time last year, and it’s a really nice reassurance that I am on the right track for where I want to be at the end of the season.”
Hutchinson competed in the 100-meter hurdle event and posted a time of 17.56, the best Vassar time in the event since 2013. Hutchinson took home 33rd place among the field of runners that day.
Sophomores Alex Gittens and Lucy Balcezak joined Ingraham on the third day of the Invitational. Gittens competed in the 200-meter, clocking a personal best time of 27.97 in addition to competing in the seeded section of the 400-meter event. Balcezak competed in the 800-meter race, posting a time of 2:26:71 for the Brewers.
While only a handful of Vassar runners competed at the Alan Connie Shamrock Invitational, the team competed in its entirety on March 28th, 2015 at the Monmouth University Season Opener at Monmouth Stadium. Ingraham was at it again, this time showing her extended speed and endurance by winning the 800-meter dash of the Opener with a time of 2:13:70. Later in the day, Vassar’s “A-team” for the 4×400 meter relay, comprised of freshman Eliana Tyler, Ingraham, Balcezak, and Gittens, finished fifth overall with a time of 4:03:60.
Cleves also had a terrific performance at the Opener in the 1500-meter run with a personal best time of 5:01:73, finishing as the event’s top Division III runner. Gittens and senior Margaret Sowa competed in the 800-meter event, with Gittens running a 2:27:38, placing her in 14th place and just barely missing her personal best time. Sowa was right behind Gittens with a 2:29:37, finishing third in her heat. In the 200-meter dash, Class of 2016 Mollie Schear ran a 27.54, which was third in her heat and 23rd overall, just missing her personal best. Crowell was .01 seconds behind Schear in the same event to finish 24th.
In their two most recent competitions, the Brewers had just as much success. Senior Cassidy Carpenter competed at the prestigious Sam Howell Invitational hosted by Princeton, N.J., while the rest of the squad headed to Ramapo College for the annual Roadrunner Invitational.
Carpenter competed in the 5000-meter run on April 3. She finished 31st out of a field of 46 competitors, most of whom were Division I runners, with a time of 18:29:34 and only barely missed a qualifying time for the ECAC Championships by four seconds.
Despite weather conditions that were colder than normal and unusually strong gusts of wind, the Brewers put up strong performances at the Roadrunner Invitational on April 4. Vassar’s 4×100 meter relay team of sophomore Saparja Nag, Schear, Anderson and Ingraham won their heat with a time of 50.90. The time was unfortunately just off the ECAC Championship time of 50.30.
Ingraham continued her success by finishing second in the 100-meter dash preliminaries, qualifying for the ECAC meet and breaking the school record with a time of 12.37. She went on to take third in the finals of the event later that day with a time of 12.66. Ingraham also ran the 200-meter race late that day, taking second with a time of 25.56, producing yet another ECAC qualifying time.
The 3000-meter steeplechase saw two standout runs, junior Ava Farrell finished second overall with a time of 11:43:29, a time that qualified her for the ECAC Championships. Sophomore Laura MacDonald also debuted in the event, positing a time of 12:11: 16, finishing fourth in the event.
Finally, in the 4×800 meter relay, the team comprised of senior Taylor Quinn, senior Nicole Woodworth, Cleves and Balcezak finished in second place with a time of 9:54:11 and earned a spot at the ECAC Championships.
The Women’s Track team is looking to do big things again this year. Tyler said, “Our team goals are to get as many people as possible to Liberty Leagues and ECACs. We’ve been training really hard through the winter, both outside and in the bays. We’ve now moved to the track, which is exciting, and we are continuing to put in the work there and in the weight room. Thus far, I’m most proud of the strong starts that many of my team members have had and the hard training we have put in, and I’m most excited to get more racing experience at this level and to race in some warmer weather.”
Keep your eyes peeled for the Women’s Track and Field Team this year. Their next performance is the Silfen Invitational on April 11th, hosted by Connecticut College.