In what proved to be a historic couple of days, the women and men’s track teams traveled to New London, CT to compete in the Silfen Invitational this past weekend. Vassar had a strong showing as many athletes chalked up personal bests and broke previous Vassar records. The women’s and men’s teams finished in 11th and 13th place respectively. Interim track coordinator James McCowan noted, “[I am] very proud of the team’s effort and focus. Liberty Leagues are next week and this shows we are poised to perform well.”
One of the standout performers of the invitational was freshman Sarah DeBenedictis. Transitioning from soccer to track, DeBenedictis did not lose any steam as she beat the school record in the high jump for the third week in a row.
DeBenedictis shared, “The transition [between sports] was definitely difficult just because soccer and track are such different sports. But the people on the track team are so welcoming and friendly that it made the switch a lot easier than I had expected. Being a two-sport athlete is an amazing experience and I love being able to work with two different groups of people and experience two completely different sports and compete in both of them at a high level.”
DeBenedictis first broke the school record with fellow freshman Sophie Sharp as they finished the high jump at 1.38 meters at the Ramapo Invitational. Then at the Silfen Invitational, DeBenedictis beat her own record with a 1.43-meter jump. “Breaking a school record was something that I never really thought about when going into the season,” she disclosed. “It is surreal to have broken it. I’m using this record as a form of motivation to keep challenging myself to keep improving.”
Many other women excelled in Connecticut and contributed to the team’s impressive 11th-place finish. Senior captain Mollie Schear shined in competition as she earned 10th place in the 100-meter dash, while also setting new personal records in the 100 and 200-meter races. Meanwhile, junior Molly Crowell ran a fast 26.98-second 200-meter dash, placing her on the leaderboard with a 12th place win.
Continuing the upperclassmen’s success, the freshman class climbed to the leaderboards with notable performances. Christiana Prater-Lee earned 19th place in the 5000-meter, while her fellow classmate Elise Matera finished at the 23rd seed. Sophie Sharp continued her exceptional jump success as she finished in 15th place for the long jump.
For the men’s team, senior Taylor Vann dominated the Silfen Invitational as he beat six school records and posted seven personal bests. Vann first shattered a Vassar decathlon record when he finished the 110 hurdles in only 15.99 seconds. He then took home more Brewer records when he launched the disc 38.84 meters in the discus, finished with 3.45 meters in the pole vault and tossed the javelin 59.2 meters. Combined, Vann finished with a score of 6598, which is an all-time high for Vassar.
Vann gleamed, “This type of score has been something that I’ve been working towards throughout my four years on the track team, so I’m happy to have finally been able to make it happen. At the same time, this is just a starting point. There are many meets left, so I’m focusing on continuing to progress and improve in all of my events.”
Nevertheless, Vann’s success did not occur all in one day, as he continued his momentum throughout both days of competition to have such an extraordinary finish. Vann explained, “Friday went great and I was really excited about it, but I did my best to stay focused on the next day so that I could finish strong.”
In terms of keeping a positive mentality, Vann admitted, “I really have to attribute everything to the preparation that me and my coaches put into getting ready to compete. A lot of that mental toughness comes from having confidence in my preparation. We had a very specific plan for the whole two days, so whether things were going good or bad, we could just stick to the plan and be able to stay focused.”
Vann was not the only competitor to shine this weekend, as many other Brewers had very strong finishes. In the 1500-meter, Vassar’s sophomore class had a strong showing as Michael Scarlett finished in 20th, Philip Brown took 22nd place and Jared Freedman was awarded the 26th spot.
Like DeBenedicitis, junior Elijah Winston is a two-sport athlete for the Brewers as a member of both the men’s basketball team and the men’s track and field team. In his first season, Winston has already proven himself on the track as he finished 19th in the 200-meter in 23.09.
Also in the 200-meter, senior Peter Winkeller finished in 14th with a time of 22.80. Meanwhile, fellow senior Dylan Manning finished in sixth place as he completed he 400-meter dash in 51.13 seconds. The men’s 4×400 relay team consisting of seniors Morrie Lam, Peter Winkeller, Dylan Manning and sophomore Kyle Estrada in third to earn Vassar’s highest place on the leaderboards.
“Everyone had fantastic meet yesterday and it was a great way to prepare us for Liberty Leagues,” stated DeBenedicitis. “Being able to come off of some great performances and have that confidence going into conference is all we could have asked for. As an underclassman I am very fortunate to have the leadership from all of the upperclassmen. The support that they give you is so comforting and really makes you want to perform at your best. Our coaches have worked so hard to get us to the point that we are at now and have prepared us for every thing so I am very excited to see what we can bring to the table at the Liberty League Championships.”