Rebecca Hammond ’13 and Osazenoriuwa Ebose ’15: Pushing Track & Field Limits

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Photograph taken from Swarthmore Athletics page.
Osazenoriuwa Ebose '15 Photograph taken from Swarthmore Athletics page.

This past weekend, the Swarthmore Women’s Track & Field record books were rewritten, as new school-best times were recorded in the 1500-meter race and the shot put.

At the Sam Howell Invitational on Friday, April 5, Rebecca Hammond ‘13 surpassed Cait Mullarkey’s ‘09 school record for the 1500-meters, finishing in 11th place overall with a final time of 4:36.48. At the Osprey Open on Saturday, April 6, Osazenoriuwa Ebose ‘15 took second place overall at the shot put, with a 12.13 meter throw.

Setting school records has become a familiar occurrence for both – Hammond holds program-best times in the indoor 200-meters, indoor 400-meters, outdoor 800-meters, indoor 1000-meters, indoor mile, and indoor 3000-meters. On a similar note, Ebose holds the school-best time in the 100-meters, as well as program-best records in the shot put, discuss, weight throw, and javelin.

Despite these monumental feats from both athletes so far in their Swarthmore careers, Head Coach Pete Carroll is expecting the list of accomplishments to continue growing – particularly from Ebose, who has two more years to hone her skills.

“Certainly 40 feet is the goal – and beyond,” Carroll said of his aspirations for Ebose’s javelin throw.

Rebecca Hammond '13 Photograph taken from Swarthmore Athletics page.

Hammond is also highly anticipating what Ebose can accomplish as an upperclassman. “I think she is going to have a big breakthrough really soon,” she said. Coming from a runner’s perspective, Hammond has been nothing short of thoroughly impressed by Ebose’s performance so far this season.

“Just being able to concentrate your energy into one compound motion is crazy,” she said.

As for her own record-shattering performance on Friday, Hammond was humbly pleased with her race – if not slightly regretful. “The first lap was very slow, and with each lap, I went faster,” she said. Called a negative split, it typically indicates that the runner could have run faster. According to Hammond, it is typically more difficult to run the second half of a race faster than the first half versus running both halves of a race consistently.

“There is the thought of, ‘Oh, if only I’d gone out a little bit faster,’” Hammond said. “But the fact that it was a fast time is still pretty nice.”

Carroll was thrilled to see the ambitious drive of both of his athletes, and hopes to continue inspiring his team to push for different goals, whether it be a top-ten time or a school record.

“It might be in the back of their minds, it might be in their peripheral vision, but they know what they’re going for,” he said.

One way he maintains this competitive spirit is by posting a top-ten list for each event on his door, which serves as a main source of inspiration for his runners.

“Everybody’s trying to get on that list, because you’re immortal for a temporary amount of time,” Carroll said.

Granted, these accomplishments are not reached within the span of one season – running is an all year sport, with runners preparing for cross-country, then indoor track, then outdoor track, and then for twelve weeks in the summer for the next season of cross-country. According to Carroll, runners cannot afford to take two or three weeks off, or else they begin losing fitness.

“I think [running] is something that fits the Swarthmore characteristic. It’s something that kids like to do, which is hard work,” he said.

Hammond, who entered Swarthmore as a chronically injured runner plagued with stress fractures, shin splints, and stress reactions, clocks in 50 to 55 miles per week. A typical week for her consists of three workouts with the team, cross-training in the gym on her off days, and competing in a meet on the weekend.

Luckily, all the track & field athletes do not mind spending so much time together. “At Haverford, for instance, the women’s and men’s track teams never hang out with each other. But we’re one big team, essentially,” Hammond said. “We’re all kind of goofy friends.”

With Centennial Conference championships coming up in less than a month, Carroll is not concerned about this runners’ fitness levels. Instead, he is concerned about the impact of Swarthmore academics on his team’s mentality, and how his athletes will handle juggling the physical strain from training and the mental strain from preparing for finals and exams.

“I’m trying to keep them inspired and hopefully competitive for the conference championships” Carroll said.

While her coach is worried about the weeks ahead, Hammond is not focusing on the upcoming Centennial Conference championships at all.

“I never really think about conferences. I try not to until it comes to the time,” she said.

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