March 29 - The Amherst College outdoor track and field teams kicked off their 2008 seasons at the Trinity College Bantam Invite, with the Lord Jeff women's team placing first in three events. First-year Kristen Ballinger won the 800-meter Run and helped Amherst win the 4x400 Relay, while junior Zandra Walton cruised to victory in the 5000-meter Run.
Bantam Invite - March 29th
Performers of the Meet - Zandra Walton'09 and Ben Mears'11
Although it wasn't readily apparent from Saturday's weather, outdoor track season is now officially underway in Amherst. The team traveled to Trinity College for the Bantam Invitational and focused on competing well in the not very spring-like weather. The 10,000m runners kicked things off, with the men and women running together. They tempoed the first 21 laps, and then kicked it in over the final mile. Daniel Murner led the way for Amherst, on the strength of a 4:40 final mile, and finished second in 32:42.65. He was followed by Florian Reichert (5th, 33:14.75), Ben Mears (6th, 33:17.27), and Eric Holaday (33:25.74). All four runners got in a good workout, and got their NE DIII qualifiers out of the way. The women ran in a good pack most of the way, with Nicole Anderson (2nd, 39:03.43), Hallie Schwab (3rd, 39:12.13), and Laura Mortimer (4th, 39:15.39) staying together until the final mile. Katie Moravec (5th, 39:54.80) dipped under 40, and Liz Dalton (6th, 40:28.22) gave Amherst five of the top six spots in the race, not to mention qualifying times for most of the post-season meets. Next up was the shot put, where Ryan Bone and Chris Eaton, both football players in the fall, were making their debut for the Amherst College track team. Both showed their potential with Bone finishing sixth with a toss of 40-00.50 and Eaton—who was competing in his first-ever track meet—finishing 10th with a put of 36-09.00. Over at the javelin, Steve Shashy was having a good day. He finished eighth with a personal best of 130-09. Later in the day, all three would compete in the discus, with Bone taking fifth (101-08), Shashy sixth (96-03), and Eaton seventh (92-02). Over at the track, Tom Anderson (9th), Kit Callahan (32nd), Ben Read (34th), Melissa Pritchard (15th), Mercedes Taylor (16th), Lauren Benson (24th), and Cara Giaimo (26th) were all representing Amherst in the 1500. It was big day for Callahan, as he had missed the entire indoor season after getting spiked across the Achilles at the start of the first indoor meet in January. This time he made it through the 1500 unscathed, nearly winning his heat with a big charge at the end, and then came back to split 54.7 in the 4x400. Taylor was also racing for the first time since cross country, and she won her heat of the 1500 by a sizeable margin. A large crew of sprinters fought the wind and cold in the 400. Susan Wasserman (4th) and Keith Pendergrass (10th) led the way for the team. They were joined by Jennifer Rybak (5th), Jenny Mancino (7th), Mattie Baker (11th), Kat Loomis (12th), Andre Gary (11th), Steve Shashy (15th), and Sean Legister (19th). Gary and Legister (along with Michael Dolmatch and Larry Thompson) were making their competitive debut for Amherst Track & Field. They not only add depth in the sprints on the men's side, but also some fun personalities and good humor to the team. In the 800, Pritchard (23rd), Benson (26th), Giaimo (28th), Read (18th), and Anderson (9th) all doubled back from the 1,500. They were joined by Kristen Ballinger (1st, 2:21.58), Carly Levenson (2nd, 2:22.42), Mary Doris Reggie (6th), Hoiwan Cheung (10th), Mariana Palacios (12th), and Ryan Drost (10th). Ballinger and Levenson waged an impressive duel in the event, with Ballinger leading for much of the race, before Levenson put on an impressive kick in the final 200 meters, drawing even with Ballinger at the top of the homestretch. Ballinger had another gear left, and was able to kick it in for the win, with Levenson just behind, giving Amherst the 1-2 finish. Kate Silverman and Zoe Pagonis both competed in the 400 hurdles. Despite not competing in the event since last spring, Silverman looked great, dominating her heat with a time of 1:11.11 and finishing fifth overall. Pagonis, a freshman, made the jump from 300H (the high school distance in most states) to 400H for the first time and finished seventh in 76.61. Another big crew competed in the 200, with Rybak (7th), Wasserman (12th), Mancino (15th), Baker (18th), Loomis (19th), Dick (21st), Gary (11th), Legister (17th), and Shashy (18th) all doubling back from the 400. In addition, Anthony Fuller led the way for the men (10th, 24.34), and Larry Thompson (14th) and Michael Dolmatch (16th) made their debuts. Yet another large group competed in the 5000 for Amherst, including some for whom the distance is significantly longer than they typically run on the track. Jimmy Swanson and Peter Harrison, who excelled at the 800 and 1500 indoors, showed that they can also be competitive at the longer distances. Swanson finished second in the 5000 in 15:33.19, with Harrison taking fifth in 15:43.17. They were joined by Peter Foote (7th), Will Fairhurst (13th), Ben Klein (15th), Kevin Hanley (18th), and Jack Seaver (21st). Zandra Walton, another runner who usually races shorter distances, chased a Hartford runner early in the race before pulling away to a win in 18:35.38. Sophie Galleher (18:51.51) gave Amherst the 1-2, with Caitlin McDermott-Murphy (7th), Christina Wong (8th), and Nicole Green (14th) also in there.