Relays Highlight Track and Field Championships

It was truly a team effort at the Centennial Conference Championships, held last weekend at Ursinus, last weekend for the Garnet track and field teams.  Both the men and women closed out the indoor season led by tremendous performances by relay squads.

On the women’s side, three different relays scored for Swarthmore.  The 4×800 meter relay was the highlight of the meet, as Rebecca Hammond ‘13, Becky Painter ‘13, Sarah Nielsen ‘16, and Katie McMenamin ‘16 took first place in a time of 9:30.42.  Their time was a new Centennial Conference record.  The distance medley also performed exceptionally, as Painter, Nielsen, McMenamin, and Amy Amuquandoh ‘16 ran to a silver medal (12:34.21).  Sprinters got in on the action as well, as the 4×200 meter relay placed seventh (1:54.08).

For the men, the distance relays again paced the team.  Aidan Dumont-McCaffrey ‘13, Erick White ‘15, Jonas Oppenheimer ‘15, and Dan Creem ‘16 teamed up in the distance medley to take fourth (10:40.47), while the 4×800 relay took sixth (8:12.91).

Painter said relays have a different feel than individual events at conferences: “Since we race the other teams in our conference pretty often and we have access to the times everyone has run so far in the season, I would have known where I could expect to finish in an individual event. In a relay though, it all depends on who the coaches decide to run.”  She added that although each runner on the team is on the track alone, it really is a team effort.  “Once you’ve let go of the baton, you have to trust that your teammates will continue your effort.”  Painter praised McMenamin for anchoring both of the medal-winning relays.  Osazenoriuwa Ebose ‘15 was similarly impressed by the performance of the relays, pointing out that the women’s 4×800 was “50% freshmen,” while the distance medley was “75% freshmen.”

There were several strong individual performances over the weekend as well.  The women were led by two fourth place finishes, by Hammond in the mile run (5:04.12) and Ebose in the shot put (38-07.00).  Painter was particularly impressed by Hammond’s run, saying, “She’s my co-captain and also my hero.”  Ebose said she expected to do better, but as Painter pointed out, “She was still fourth in the conference. That speaks to her talent.”  Katie Lin ‘16 added a fifth place long jump (16-02.50), while Julia Nee ‘15 took sixth in the 400 meter dash (1:02.23).

On the men’s side, Matthew Heck ‘13 led the way with a fourth place finish in the 400 (52.00).  Other scorers included Zach Kronstat ‘15 in the triple jump (8th, 40-05.50) and Jason Heo ‘15 in the 60 meter hurdles (7th, 9.22).  Heo lowered his own program record in the morning, with a prelim time of 9.15.  Eric Verhasselt ‘13 also set a program record by scoring 2897 points in the decathlon en route to a 14th place finish.

Overall, the women finished seventh in the meet, scoring 39 points.  The men scored 19 for a ninth place finish.  With the indoor season out of the way, the Garnet now turn their attention to the outdoor season.  Painter said the team was optimistic going into the spring.  “It’s great to see that so many of our girls from cross country are even more competitive on the track, and our sprinters are looking really impressive too. We’ve always had fast sprinters, but we’ve never had such depth on the sprinting side before.”  She added that the outdoor events speak more to the Garnet’s strengths, pointing out that Ebose can compete in discus and javelin in addition to shot put in the spring.  For her part, Ebose was excited that the freshmen have already shown themselves to be “incredibly talented and hard-working,” and expects this to continue throughout the spring.

The athletes will now retreat into their training for a month before resurfacing at the Danny Curran Invitational, held March 28-29 at Widener.  Several more invitationals are on the schedule before the Garnet return to Ursinus May 3-5 for the conference outdoor championships.

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