Ballinger Wins 800-meter Run to Lead Outdoor Track at UMass Invitational

April 12 - The Amherst College outdoor track and field teams competed against tough competition at the UMass Invitational on Saturday, with first-year Kristen Ballinger picking up the Lord Jeffs' lone win with a time of 2:14.17 in the 800-meter Run. The Amherst women placed sixth in a field of nine teams, while the Lord Jeff men finished ninth.


UMass Invite - April 12th

Performer of the Meet - Steve Shashy'08 and Kristen Ballinger'11

This weekend the team headed across town for the UMass Invitational, which featured mostly Division I competition. The biggest surprise of the day was the weather, which had been forecast as 40 degrees and rainy earlier in the week, but turned out to be in the 70s and sunny. The team took full advantage of the good competition, nice track, and beautiful day, and came home with more personal bests than we can count. Three athletes on the team earned provisional qualifying marks for the NCAA Championships. First-year Kristen Ballinger shaved more than seven seconds off her collegiate best in the 800, winning the race in 2:14.17. All-American Elise Tropiano finished second in her first steeplechase of the season, running a solid time of 10:58.60. Another first-year, Peter Harrison, took about five seconds off of his collegiate best in the 800, running 1:53.18 and finishing third in a very competitive race. Harrison dipped under the NCAA provisional time of 1:53.20, and sophomore Jimmy Swanson, who finished right behind in 1:53.36, just outside the qualifying time. It was an impressive accomplishment that Swanson was on the starting line at all; he caught a flight to Hartford at 4:00 the morning of the race after having to make an unexpected trip home earlier in the week.

Another athlete who had a big breakthrough was Susan Wasserman, who finished fourth in the 400 hurdles in 65.47. In just her second college track meet, Sarah Leyman took fifth in the shot put with a mark of 34' 3.5". Perhaps the biggest breakthrough of the day came from senior captain Steve Shashy, who has been the most consistent 55-second 400m runner Amherst has ever had. Not only did he break through the 55 second "barrier" this weekend, but he skipped 54 entirely, running 53.80. He also led the male throwers this week, with his 11th-place finish in the javelin. A handful of the distance runners dropped down to the 1500, following their races with a workout on the athletic fields across the street from the track. Mike Harbus led the way for the team with a 4:02.34 PR finish. Daniel Murner (4:05.76) also ran a PR. He was followed by Will Yochum, who was running his second race since cross country season. Yochum's performance was a tremendous improvement over the previous weekend's race, and he finished in a solid 4:07.25. Ben Klein (4:12.10) ran a PR, as did Jack Seaver (4:30.97). Kit Callahan continued to round back into shape with a 4:18.06. The sprinters took advantage of the weather and produced many season bests. Anthony Fuller (11.68), Sean Legister (11.87), Larry Thompson (12.08), and Michael Dolmatch (12.13) all ran well in the 100, as did Mattie Baker (13.50). Baker also ran a PR of 27.46 in the 200. In the women's 400, Kat Loomis ran a collegiate best of 62.80, as did Emily Dick (63.08). On the men's side, Basile Beaty returned to the track and, despite limited training, ran 52.45 to lead the team. In the women's 1,500, Amherst had a group of five between 4:57 and 5:04. The runners who made the most improvement, however, were Melissa Pritchard (5:08.15), Cara Giaimo (5:14.46), and Lauren Benson (5:36.21). After running the 10k last weekend, Christina Wong dropped down and ran a solid 5:11.83. The team had additional breakthroughs in the 100. In addition to the provisional nation-qualifying performances, Ben Read had a great race, finishing in 2:03.83. On the women's side, Carly Levenson (2:19.91), Zoe Pagonis (2:25.42), and Mariana Palacios (2:25.75) all ran PR's. Caitlin McDermott-Murphy continued her comeback (2:23.16) as Molly Priedeman (2:29.67) began hers, after a non-track-related injury 3+ months ago. Jennifer Rybak completed her qualifying for the end of season meets in the heptathlon with a 2:37.85 in the 800. Zandra Walton (fifth in 11:33.00) and Kevin Hanley (third in 10:25.19) looked good in running the steeplechase for the first time ever. Katie Moravec (18:26.54) and Florian Reichert (15:22.70) led the way for the team in the 5000. Will Fairhurst ran in the unseeded heat of the 5000 at the beginning of the meet, when the conditions were a little cooler. He had a breakthrough performance, finishing in 16:11.91. In the 4x400 relay, the quartet of Carly Levenson, Kate Silverman, Mary Doris Reggie, Susan Wasserman ran their best time of the season, finishing fifth in 4:02.84.