The Jumbos hit the Ivy League on Saturday for their last regular season meet of the year. The team headed north to the Dartmouth Invitational and turned in solid times against some Div. I athletes as the postseason approaches.
The tough competition from Div. I schools like Dartmouth, the University of New Hampshire and Vermont gave coach Kristen Morwick a chance to put her runners in some fast races. Sophomore Katy O'Brien rose to the occasion to take third place in the 1,500 meters, running 4:40.29 and provisionally qualifying for Nationals.
"I think we went [through 400 meters] in 1:12, which is like two seconds off my 800 pace," O'Brien said. "I hung back for the first three-quarters of the race and started moving up a little more."
Then O'Brien, a middle distance runner, sprinted down the final straightaway for third place.
"I think I can do better than that, but I'm happy with how I did and I gave it everything I had," O'Brien said.
Both O'Brien and fellow sophomore Catherine Beck are now nationally qualified in the 800 and 1,500.
"[O'Brien] is probably the most versatile runner we have," Morwick said. "She's having a hell of a season."
O'Brien is also .16 seconds away from a provisional qualifying time in the 3,000 steeplechase and will likely be a member of the 4x400 relay team.
"I just think 'What do you focus on?'" Morwick said. "It's so hard."
The wind was once again a factor for the sprinters on Saturday as the 200 meter runners ran into a strong headwind on the final 100 meters. Senior tri-captain Rachel Bloom and sophomore Kaleigh Fitzpatrick took third (27.04) and fifth (27.32), respectively, although both have run faster this season.
Morwick had hoped to see Fitzpatrick run a faster qualifying time heading into the NESCAC Championships next weekend.
"We haven't had a race where we haven't faced that kind of wind," Morwick said. "It would be] like running uphill and all of a sudden you get a downhill race."
Track officials decided to run the 100 meters in the opposite direction to avoid the wind. Sophomore Erica Steinitz ran 13.28 for eighth place, qualifying for Div. III's, while junior Jess Mactas qualified for NESCACs with a time of 13.59. Morwick is happy that the team has faced some tough conditions this spring, even if times have suffered.
"The advantage we've had is we've run all of our 100s into the wind, so it will be an even playing field when we run into those types of conditions," Morwick said.
The 4x100 meter relay team of Uang, Bloom, Stebbins, and Steinitz took fourth in the event and will likely be the Tufts team competing next weekend at NESCACs.
"I think it will be tough to beat Middlebury and Williams even with our "A" team, so we're going to pull [Fitzpatrick] and [sophomore Jenna Weir] out of there," Morwick said of her two top jumpers. "It just makes the most sense."
The 4x400 relay team of Stebbins, juniors Maggie Clary and Sarah Crispin and freshman Jackie Ferry took third on Saturday with a time of 4:11.09. Tufts' NESCAC roster is still undecided, as Morwick has many options, including freshman Aubrey Wasser, who qualified for Div. III's in the 400 on Saturday by taking sixth with a time of 1:02.02.
Crispin and Ferry both turned in strong performances in the 800 meters as well, taking fifth and seventh, respectively. Ferry, who normally runs the anchor leg of the 4x400 relay for the Jumbos, qualified for ECACs with her time of 2:20.71. Crispin, who spent most of the week traveling and was unsure if she would race this weekend, ran 2:18.71.
The Jumbos set themselves up for point-scoring in the 3,000 meter steeplechase on Saturday, as freshmen Evelyn Sharkey, Susan Allegretti, and Kate Charyk all raced well. Sharkey led the crew, placing second in 11:40.54, despite almost missing the final water jump. Allegretti took third in 12:11.34 while Charyk took fifth in 12:25.30. Charyk has dropped more than a minute off her time in the steeple three weeks ago at the Snowflake Classic.
"She's starting to feel really confident in that and she's in much better shape so she's doing well," Morwick said.
Combined with senior Becca Ades, the Jumbos have four legitimate point-scoring threats in the event for NESCACs and Div. III's. Also in longer distances, freshman Katie Rizzolo qualified for Div. III's with her time of 18:45.00 in the 5,000 meters, taking second place.
Rutecki hit a personal best in the triple jump qualifying for NESCACs and taking third with her mark of 33'05.75". Sophomore Cecilia Allende threw 107'07" for ninth in the javelin, qualifying for Div. III's and giving the Jumbos another scoring threat in the event to go with senior tri-captain Megan Sears.
"She takes time off after volleyball season and then starts to get in shape during spring," Morwick said. "It's starting to click which is the right time to have it click. Middlebury is right at our heels [for NESCACs] so we're going to need some scorers in the javelin to balance them out."
Freshman Jennifer Johnson qualified for NESCACs in the pole vault by clearing 8'06.75" to take tenth in the event. The team will need representation in the event after losing freshman Katrine Dermody to a knee injury.
The team now will get set for NESCACs this weekend at Bowdoin. It will be an uphill battle against Williams and Middlebury, but O'Brien thinks the team is ready.
"We're really starting to come together as a team and everyone's finding her place," O'Brien said. "It should come together on Saturday."