Led by coach Kristen Morwick, the woman's track team is hoping to maintain it's success heading into the spring season. Senior tri-captains Kate Sheedy, Jessica Colby and Emily Pfeil will lead the team that finished second to Williams in last year's Div. III New England Championships and sent six athletes to the Div. III NCAA Championships.
Morwick, named NCAA New England Coach of the Year at the conclusion of the indoor season, looks to returning veterans as well as an impressive class of incoming freshman to continue the team's winning ways.
"We are a young team but the freshman contributed a lot during the indoor season and should do the same in the spring." Sheedy said. "We expect to carry over what we did indoor to outdoor."
Freshmen Kaleigh Fitzpatrick, Catherine Beck, Katy O'Brien and Laura Walls all qualified to compete in the NCAA Div. III Indoor Championships this winter. Fitzpatrick earned All-American recognition as a member of the 4x400 meter relay team along with senior Clauda Clarke, junior Rachel Bloom and sophomore Jillian Warner. They will be joined by sophomore Sarah Crispin, who earned All-American status in the 800 meeter run at Indoor nationals.
"The freshman class should fill holes in middle to long distance running." Clarke said. "Our strengths are definitely in the middle distance this year."
With a strong freshman class and a core of returning upperclassmen, both individual and team expectations are high.
"We are shooting for a top three finish in both [the All New England Championship] and in the NESCAC," Sheedy said. "We sent nine people to nationals in indoor and we will look to send as many people as possible this spring."
Tufts finished second to Williams last year in both the NESCAC Championships and the All New England Championships, and Williams again looks to be the women's toughest competitor. Williams has won the New England Championship seven times in the last 11 years. They will be looking to repeat as NESCAC champions this year.
"Williams has an extremely strong program. I'm not sure that they are beatable," Sheedy said. "While we hope for the top spot, placing behind Williams, ahead of the rest of the NESCAC, will not be a disappointment."
Without All-American Jessica Trombly, who graduated last year, the team recognizes the challenges in repeating the successes of the previous year.
"Trombly was a very talented athlete. She was a national champion in the 400 meter hurdles," Clarke said. "It will be difficult not having that impact runner we were used to having the past four years."
However, the general sense is that of optimism. With a freshman class that has already proven itself during the indoor season, and a returning set of seniors with experience in a winning program, the team is poised to ride the momentum gained during the indoor season. Coach Morwick, who took over the program in June 2000, has developed Tufts into one of the most competitive teams in the NESCAC. The team looks forward in anticipation of their first meet, which will be held April 2 here at Tufts. This will be the first women's track event held on the newly replaced outdoor track.