While some last-minute kinks threw a wrench in the Jumbos' stride, the numbers kept coming down at the All-New England Championships, held this weekend at Boston University.
The team took 17th in the 32-team field, but the focus of the weekend was on qualifying individuals and relays for Nationals rather than team placement.
Despite being caught off-guard by the loss of its anchor leg, the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) team rebounded to run the third-fastest time in school history. Sophomore Catherine Beck was thrown into the mix after illness ended the season of classmate Laura Walls, who has held the mile-long anchor leg of the relay for the past two seasons. Beck was joined by sophomores Katy O'Brien and Joyce Uang and junior Sarah Crispin, and the team took third in the event in 12:01.14, a time that puts the relay sixth on the 10-team list for the NCAA Championships.
O'Brien led off in 3:36 for the 1,200 leg and handed off to Uang, who hit 59.7 seconds in the 400 leg. Beck took the baton for the 800, running 2:16.3 and turning in a negative split. Crispin, who usually runs the 800 and owns All-American distinction in the event, ran the mile leg of the relay in 5:07. The team's time improves upon a previous season best of 12:03.15, set two weeks ago at the Valentine's Invitational, also at BU.
The loss of Walls shook up the weekend, especially since coach Kristen Morwick would have entered her athletes in different races had she known that she wouldn't have her anchor.
"It literally threw everything we were thinking of doing into complete disarray," Morwick said.
The DMR will be running this weekend at the Trinity Last Chance Meet, but the legs have not been decided. O'Brien will be running the open 800 to try to improve her time for Nationals and senior tri-captain Becca Ades will run in the 5,000. The Nationals lineup remains a toss-up until after this weekend, as Morwick waits to see who qualifies in each event.
"We'll just have to see," Morwick said when asked about the situation for Nationals. "It's not ideal in any way. We kind of rolled the dice with Laura Walls being out."
Beck, in what has become the norm rather than the exception this season, set a record of her own this weekend, as she took second in the mile (4:55.39). Her time bested Kathy Whitcomb's 1977 record of 4:56.14 and puts her third on the performance lists for the NCAA Championships, although she missed qualifying automatically by .39 seconds. For Beck, undercutting the five-minute barrier was accomplishment enough.
"It feels pretty great," Beck said. "It's something I never really expected to achieve. It was just really exciting to do that, regardless of the school record."
In a fast field, Beck hung back during the race and took the lead with two laps to go as the pace slowed down. Freshman Katie DiCamillo of Providence then surged ahead and started her final sprint, winning the race by just .15 seconds.
"On the last straightaway, I felt like I was closing the gap and narrowing the distance, but there just wasn't time to get back up there," Beck said.
First place or not, it's the runner's
second school record this season and comes on the heels of Beck's 17:09.18 performance in the 5,000 meters set two weeks ago at the Terrier Invitational at BU.
Things weren't as smooth for the 4x400 relay. The team of freshman Aubrey Wasser, senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom, sophomore Kaleigh Fitzpatrick and freshman Jackie Ferry was seeded in the fastest heat of the day, which included Northeastern, UConn, and Williams. Wasser led off against tough competition and was in last through the first lap, coming through in 30 seconds. Around the final turn, Wasser stumbled and fell into the infield and didn't get back up, taking the team out of the race.
Williams ended up finishing last in the stacked heat, but its time of 3:50.43 has the Ephs at the top on the Div. III performance list.
Tufts currently holds the thirteenth spot on the list and needs to be top-10 to earn a trip to Minnesota in two weeks. Last year, Tufts had the eighth-fastest time with 3:56.08 after the bank penalty. That time is now 3:58.62, and Morwick would like to it drop under 3:56 this weekend at the Trinity Last Chance Meet.
"We've just got to get there and we could have easily have done it without that mishap," Morwick said.
That task looms a little larger as the team is one of the last groups that still lacks a qualifying time, as most teams have already reached their desired time.
"We're going to be doing it by ourselves this weekend," Morwick said. "Everybody who's going to be doing it already has a time."
In the 5000, Ades had hoped to improve her seed time for Nationals, but found herself in a tough race and finished in ninth (17:50.60).
"She just got a little impatient, and I don't think it was the ideal race situation for her to run fast," Morwick said. "She'll try it again next week."
Ades still ran her second-fastest time ever, but will need to improve her standing on the performance list to go to Nationals, as she is currently 18th in an event that took 15 runners last year.
Freshmen Evelyn Sharkey and Susan Allegretti finished within in .06 seconds of each other in the 1,000, running 3:07.03 and 3:07.09, respectively finishing in 17th and 18th. Uang competed in the high jump, clearing 5'1" for thirteenth and junior Kate Makai took 17th in the 500 (1:21.25), a season best.