After a strong showing at the ECAC Championships last weekend at Harvard University, the women's track and field team is ready to take on the stiff competition at the NCAA Championships at Ohio Northern University this weekend. The Jumbos will send five participants: senior co-captains Cat Beck and Kaleigh Fitzpatrick, classmate Katy O'Brien, freshman Stephanie McNamara and sophomore Logan Crane.
Coach Kristen Morwick is hoping to see strong performances across the board and propel the team to a high finish.
"If we perform as well as our seeds, we could finish in the top 10, or even the top five, which would be incredible," Morwick said.
Crane heads to Nationals to race in the 55-meter dash after a season in which she set the school record in the event. Joining her will be the distance medley relay team of McNamara, Fitzpatrick, O'Brien and Beck. The latter two will also compete in the open mile, while Fitzpatrick entera into the 400-meter dash.
The DMR team's qualification time of 11:45.97 is the fastest in the entire field, with the closest time after that being 11:48.20 from the University of St. Thomas. The girls are hoping to come home with the national championship title and a new record.
"It would be really cool if we broke the school record," Beck said. "We all really want [the win]."
This will be McNamara's first experience at the indoor NCAAs, although she will be able to use her experience gained from a trip to the cross country Nationals in the fall.
"Steph has proven herself as a fearsome competitor," Beck said.
The rest of the relay team, however, has a depth of experience. Last year, the foursome of Fitzpatrick, Beck, O'Brien and then-senior Sarah Crispin (E '07) was edged in a narrow two-team race between the Jumbos and Wisconsin-Platteville, coming away with second place.
"It's definitely nice to have experience," said O'Brien, who will be competing in this meet for the fourth time.
The bittersweet ending of three seniors' indoor college track careers, combined with the thrill of a freshman's newest challenge, will create an exciting atmosphere for the girls this weekend. The five Jumbos are leaving Wednesday for the meet which begins tomorrow.
"I definitely am terrified, but at the same time I'm so excited for the competition," Beck said.