VC claims fourth in Liberty League Championships

First-year Penelope Mort Ranta leaps to beat Vassar’s school record in the high jump. Mort Ranta and the rest of Track & Field earned fourth place in the Liberty League Championships. / Courtesy of Gelsey White

The Brewers will play Clarkson University on April 28 and St. Lawrence University on April 29, both home on Weinberg Turf Field. Additionally, Friday will serve as Friends of Jaclyn Day for the team, while Senior Day will be celebrated on Saturday.

Head Coach Justin Harris explained that not only the coaching staff, but also the team, felt that the Brewers performed excellently in the competition. “We feel that we had a successful meet,” Coach Harris stated. “While this is the first year we leave without a conference champion, our men finished in the middle of where they have in the past, and our women finished with their second highest point total ever.” He referenced the improvement of the team throughout the most recent couple of years, stating, “These past two years we have had a much better distribution of points scored amongst the events, which really shows how talented and diverse our team truly is.”

Senior captain Saparja Nag seconded this mentality, “We’re definitely content with fourth place this year, but we’re definitely more so excited to have people scoring points in almost every event, particularly the field.”

For the men, junior Philip Brown opened the day on the 10,000-meter run. With a time of 31:40.15, Brown was able to secure third place, securing six points for the Brewers. Not far behind ran junior Jesse Schatz, who finished the length in a personal-best 32:14.71, earning fifthplace overall.

Newcomer Skylar Widman did not disappoint following these two impressive runs. He narrowly beat Vassar College’s existing school record for the 100-meter dash with a time of 11.17. Prior to this feat, the record was held by Taylor Vann, who ran the distance in a time of 11.19 last season, before graduating from the team. “I was elated when I found out I broke the 100-meter record at Liberty Leagues,” reported Widman excitedly. “I’ve had my eye on that record since beginning track here, and now that I’ve landed myself on the record board, I already feel as if I’ve accomplished a lot as an athlete under my coaches.” But the hard work does not end there, as Widman continued, “The 200-meter record is next for me!” In this event, he posted a 22.75 time, earning fourth place for the Brewers, his season-best.

Widman believes that performing at home helped him compete at his verybest. “I am sure holding the championships here made a difference. Competing in front of friends and family put me, as well as everyone else on the team, in good spirits. It kept us in the mindset that we truly needed to perform at our very best.”

Fellow freshman Anthony von Steuben took the track next for the Brewers. Though he just narrowly missed the finals with his 100-meter dash performance, earning a time of 11.46, he accomplished his season-best time with this figure. The next Brewer, junior Joel Johnson, finally clinched his heat, earning a 23.69 time in the 200-meter dash.

The team continued posting impressive times in each of the races. In the 400-meter dash, senior Elijah Winston, sophomore Dan Melody and sophomore Ilya Rozenblat all either placed for the Brewers or secured season or personal bests. Clocking in at 50.31, Winston placed fourth overall. Melody ran his season-best time with a 55.56, while Rozenblat tied his personal-best time of 56.53.

Accomplished senior Gabe Fishman earned second place for eight points in the 800-meter run with a finishing score of 1:55.23, while firstyear Adin Becker continued to show his skill in the 5,000-meter, finishing third overall with a time of 15:28.17. Becker has secured numerous Liberty League Honors throughout the year as one of the best distance runners in the conference.

The men took second in the 4×100-meter relay, with a season-best time of 43.47. Freshman Jonah Goldenbird took fifth in pole vault, clearing 3.53 meters, while fellow newcomer Cole Derksen took seventh in javelin throw (43.28 meters) and ninth in high jump (1.7 meters).

Widman ended up taking second place honors for fastest male runner in the Liberty League. “Skylar was someone we know could, and were hoping would, make an impact for us immediately,” said Coach Harris. “With work on his technique and his effort at practice, he will have the possibility to truly leave a legacy behind. We are all looking forward to watching the choices he makes moving forward.”

The Vassar College women’s track & field team rosters just as many gifted runners as the men’s team proves to have. Impressively, 25 different performances earned points for the team on Saturday, allowing them to earn 93 points, the highest point count in program history.

Saparja Nag had multiple impressive feats throughout the day, earning a multitude of points for her team. Nag finished fourth in the 100-meter dash, with a time of 13.32, before taking home fifth place in the 200-meter dash with a 27.31. This distance proved to be her most satisfying, as Nag relayed, “My 200-meter was the race that pleased me the most.” Despite the weary circumstances of the race, she ended up placing higher than she was originally seeded. “At that point of the day, I was pretty exhausted,” she admitted. “But I knew everyone else in my heat was in the same boat, and I just wanted to have some fun with it.”

Continuing the day, seniors Alex Gittens and Molly Crowell earned third and fourth place, respectively, in the 400-meter dash with times of 1:00.26 and 1:00.99. Five Brewers then found their way to the top 13 slots of the 800m dash, with senior Lucy Balcezek securing fourth place in 2:21.67.

The Brewers continued their prowess in the field events. Newcomer Penelope Mort Ranta earn third in the high jump, clearing a height of 1.51 meters and breaking the Vassar College school record. “We recruited Penelope to be a long hurdler and high jumper, even though that combination does not always allow for optimal performance in a meet since they contradict each other athletically in a sense,” explained Coach Harris.

Her efforts certainly proved to translate into rewards throughout the championship day. “Some of the most rewarding, memorable moments of the day were being able to stand on the award platform twice,” Mort Ranta told. “Both times I got to stand next to my teammates, Zahra Crim and Sophie Sharp!” Sophomore Sophie Sharp cleared a season-high height of 1.46 meters in the high jump, securing fifth place in the event.

After their strong showing in the Liberty League championships, a select group of the men and women’s teams will travel to the esteemed Penn Relays this upcoming week. “With only a small number of us heading to Penn Relays, I think we will try to take maintain the hype and support from this past weekend,” captain Nag strategized. “Keeping that in our minds as we compete against some extremely fast competition will help us find success.”


  1. This photo is Courtesy Gelsey White, the Sports Photographer for Athletic Communications. I suggest you check with your source who the photographer is for each photo, because photos are labeled based on who the photographer is in the Athletics Communications department. Artists need credit where credit is due. Thank you.

    • Hi Gelsey, thanks for letting us know about this mistake! We have changed the photo credit and we apologize for not correctly attributing it to you in the first place.

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