Women's Track and Field | Tufts moves forward after losing big talent
Published: Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 08:11
The women’s indoor track and field team, led by a core group of veteran throwers and bolstered by a promising freshman class, will be looking to build on last season’s strong results and get off to a fast start, beginning with the Jay Carisella Invitational hosted by Northeastern University on Friday.
Last indoor season, the team placed ninth at the NCAA Championships, third at the ECAC Championships, 16th at the Open New England Championship and fourth at the New England Div. III Championships.
According to coach Kristen Morwick, the team had not finished below third at the latter competition since she was hired as coach in 2000.
However, after the indoor season finished, the Jumbos improved to second-place finishes at the New England Championships, NESCAC Championship and ECAC Championship in the outdoor season this past spring.
“We really pulled it together by the end of outdoor and had some great performances at the championship meets,” senior quad-captain Alyssa Corrigan said. “I think that we were looking to build momentum coming out of our indoor season and we definitely did that. We want to keep going from there and surpass our achievements from last year.”
The other three captains are seniors Kelly Allen, Sarah Schiferl and Lilly Fisher, all of whom are expected to make significant contributions.
Meanwhile, the team’s biggest losses to graduation include eight-time All-American Nakeisha Jones (LA ’12), who holds the school record in the triple jump, and former distance captain Anya Price (LA ’12), who also qualified for the outdoor Nationals meet last year.
Heather Theiss (LA ’12), an All-American and pole vault school record-holder, also graduated.
But the Jumbos are not looking to use the loss of experienced teammates as an excuse.
“We graduated a couple good kids, but for the most part we have the majority of the team returning, and probably the best freshman class we’ve ever had,” Morwick said.
Over the past several track seasons, the team’s veteran group of throwers has built up a reputation as a force to be reckoned with on a national scale. Seniors Allen, Ronke Oyekunle and Sabienne Brutus qualified for Nationals last year, and they do not seem to be losing momentum anytime soon.
“Those three all have school records in the different throwing events, had great years last year and have come into this year really fit and really good,” Morwick said. “I just think senior year adds to that; they want to accomplish everything before they graduate.”
Allen, a four-time All-American, came in second at the 2012 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the discus. She also received the school’s Hester L. Sargent award for best female athlete this October.
Junior Jana Hieber, an All-American who placed third in the pentathlon nationally, will come back in the spring from a fall semester abroad. Hieber was also a part of the 4x400 meter relay team, along with Corrigan and returning senior Sam Bissonnette, that finished in the top 10 of the Open New Englands last winter.
Expectations are even higher this year though, due to the talent of the incoming freshmen class.
“We knew what their performances were in high school, so we knew that we were dealing with some pretty good kids to start in terms of talent,” Morwick said. “But also now that we’ve started track practice, their level of fitness, their excitement and their commitment just sort of energized the team in a way we haven’t had in the past couple of years.”
One freshman looking to continue her success from the cross country season is Audrey Gould, the lone Jumbo from the team to qualify for Nationals this fall.
Though the women’s cross country team as a whole did not qualify for the NCAA Championships, Morwick is optimistic for the distance runners’ performances this upcoming season.