Facing stiff competition at last weekend’s Boston University Valentine Invitational, Swarthmore’s track and field teams rose to the occasion, breaking two school records and several other personal records as well.
The meet, which included athletes from all NCAA divisions and competitive running clubs, featured the toughest competition Swarthmore will likely see all season. The Garnet, however, welcomed the opportunity to test its abilities against such strong opponents.
“The level of competition at the Valentine Invitational is unparalleled. We rarely see this level of competition the entire year, but it certainly helps to have people of that caliber pushing us,” sprinter Matthew Heck ’13 said.
On the women’s side, the 4000-meter distance medley relay team of Stephanie Beebe ’12, Kenyetta Givans ’12, Jen Johnson ’12 and Rebecca Hammond ’13, finished in 12:16.23, shattering the previous school record of 12:34.36 by almost twenty seconds.
Their time, which is the twelfth-best in all of Division III this season, earned them a 14th-place finish in the 29-team field.
Not content with simply breaking the school record, however, the team has an even higher goal in mind: competing at nationals.
“We’ll need to run faster if we hope to qualify for nationals,” Rebecca Hammond ’13 said.
“I was not particularly pleased with my leg — I hope to shed some time there. I know [Kenyetta] can run at least a second faster in the 400, and [Stephanie] several seconds faster in the 800, so we have some time to lose.”
The relay team also had remarkable individual success throughout the meet.
Beebe finished 77th out of 144 runners in the 1-mile event (5:13.76), and her time is now the third-fastest in school history. Givans placed 22nd in the 60-meter hurdles and Hammond ran a personal best in the 800-meter run (2:17.98), which earned her 47th place out of 153 runners.
Distance runner Melissa Frick ’12 also had an impressive meet for the Garnet, earning 29th place in the 5000-meter run (17:57.73). She is only the third woman in program history to finish the event in under 18 minutes and her time is currently the 36th fastest in Division III.
“I had the goal to break 18 minutes for the 5K but had no idea how feasible that was, considering the last 5K I ran was during my freshman year,” Frick said. “Breaking the 18-minute barrier was a rewarding effort — surprising, yet almost expected in a way.”
In the shot put, Osazenoriuwa Ebose ’15 also had a strong showing, placing 17th out of 40 throwers with a distance of 11.04 meters.
On the men’s side, Heck had a record-breaking day for the Garnet, setting a new indoor mark in the 400-meter dash. His time of 49.94 broke a 16-year-old school record (50.89) and landed him in 51st place out of 172 runners. Competing in the 200-meter dash, Heck finished 86th out of 177 (23.19) and his time is the tenth-fastest in school history.
In the 3000-meter run, Aidan DuMont-McCaffrey ’13 and Robert Fain ’14 also posted top-ten times, as they finished 85th and 90th, respectively. DuMont-McCaffrey’s time of 8:49.66 is the fifth fastest in school history, while Fain’s 8:51.10 finish earned him the seventh spot. Jonas Oppenheimer ’15 finished near his teammates (9:09.71), as all three runners posted personal records.
Jacob Phillips ’13 finished 61st out of 78 runners in 5000-meter run, posting a time of 15:29.79. Despite disappointment in his individual result, Phillips was very proud of the team’s showing and had much praise for his teammates.
“Many of our men and women preformed phenomenally, setting personal and school records, and watching my teammates compete and succeed made [the meet] worth it,” Phillips said in an email.
In the field, Daniel Ly ’12 continued to have a successful season in the triple jump, finishing 21st with a season-best jump of 13.17 meters.
Looking forward, the Garnet is excited about its prospects for this weekend’s meets and the Centennial Conference Championships in two weeks. Important factors for the team’s continued success are avoiding injuries and getting sufficient rest.
“Indoor is a very different sport from outdoor; the track is half the size and therefore can get a lot more crowded. There’s more jostling and more people fall,” Hammond said.
“There was one heat of the women’s mile at the Valentine invite where three runners went down at three different instances in the race.”
“I think the goal is just to stay healthy and motivated and remember that we may have performed very well here this weekend,” Fain said, “but when we rest up for conferences, we have the potential to perform even better.”
The men’s and women’s track teams will compete in two meets this weekend, the Haverford Keogh Invitational on Feb. 17, and the NYU Invitational on Feb. 18, with most of the Valentine’s invite athletes competing in the latter.