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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Women's Track and Field | O'Brien returns from injury as team prepares for NESCAC Championships

After spending nearly the last two months on the sidelines, junior Katy O'Brien finally took to the track on Saturday. And she looked anything but rusty.

O'Brien placed third in the 1500-meter during Saturday's MIT Invitational, posting an impressive 4:47.98 mark after not seeing competition since March 9.

"For Katy, it was her first race since Nationals," coach Kristen Morwick said. "She hadn't physically run on the track in two months, so it was a really good performance and I think she feels good about that."

Senior tri-captain Sarah Crispin, who returned to action last weekend at UMass Lowell's Davis Invitational with a win in the 1,500-meter, had another strong outing this weekend, taking the title in the 800-meter with a clip of 2:18.73.

O'Brien and Crispin could not be returning at a better time for the Jumbos, who will head to the NESCAC Championships at Middlebury on Saturday.

"I think it's going to make a huge difference," sophomore Aubrey Wasser said. "Right now if you look at the performance list, our team doesn't look so great, but last weekend was Katy's first race back and Sarah is just getting back into things. They are both such talented runners, and even though they've been out for awhile, I think they're going to make a big impact at the meet."

Several other members of the Tufts squad turned in solid performances. With a boost from Mother Nature, the sprinters and field events specialists shined after competing for weeks in unfavorable conditions.

"The weather was really helpful this weekend," senior Jessica Mactas said. "In terms of weather conditions, it's really important for sprinters to have it really hot. It doesn't help the distance runners, but it's a lot easier for us to get warm and stay warm so the times usually improve as the weather starts to get nicer."

"Weather made a big difference in the sprints," Morwick said. "That's what you want. When the muscles are warmer, it's far better for them because the looser the muscles are, the better they will perform. I was really pleased with how the sprint crew responded this week."

For the Jumbos, every 200-meter runner ran a season or personal best. Sophomore Halsey Stebbins and junior Jenna Weir set personal records in the 100-meter, while Wasser and freshman Andrea Ferri ran bests in the 400-meter.

The Jumbos' sprint relay teams also came up big, with the 4x100-meter team of Mactas, Ferri, junior Kaleigh Fitzpatrick and freshman Logan Crane running its season best en route to a first-place finish in the event. The squad posted a 49.27, surpassing its top mark by over a second and narrowly missing the NCAA provisional qualifier.

The 4x400-meter group of Wasser, Ferri, Fitzpatrick and junior Joyce Uang finished 0.2 seconds behind first-place UMass Lowell, featuring a split of 57.8 from Fitzpatrick.

In field events, sophomore Paula Dorman posted her season best in the shot put, winning the event with an 11.95-meter effort, while freshman Julia Feltus and senior Christina Pastorello threw personal records in the hammer throw and discus, respectively. Weir also topped her best in the high jump, going 1.48 meters.

With the season winding down, the Jumbos are taking it easy in preparation for the upcoming championship season.

"This week will be an easier week for us some," Wasser said. "Some people only will have one workout. The championship season is really long, so we don't start to taper dramatically before NESCACs, but we're going to start doing that soon."

"This week we're going to start to taper," Mactas said. "At least for me, I was a little sore this weekend, so it will be a nice change. This week, we'll focus on technique work, and in the 4x100 we'll keep working on the handoff and kind of take it easy on the workout side so we're fresh for the weekend."

Despite the season's hard work and the return of Crispin and O'Brien to Morwick's lineup, Tufts will have to be on top of its game in order to hang with NESCACs toughest competitors.

"Williams is always our biggest competition at the championship meets," Mactas said. "I think they're going to compete really well, and we'll have to do our best to try and keep up with them. This year Middlebury also has a really good team, so I think our goal is just to have the best performances we can and hopefully we'll be able to stay up there with Williams in terms of the scoring."