May 16 - The Amherst College outdoor track and field teams performed well at the ECAC Championships held at Springfield College, with the Lord Jeffs picking up three individual victories in the two-day event. Amherst returns to action next weekend for the NCAA Championships at the University of Wisconsin-Osh Kosh.
ECAC's - May 15th and 16th
Performers of the Meet - Peter Harrison'11 and Sophie Galleher'10
Despite a challenging week of final exams, the men's and women's teams put forth a great performance at the ECAC DIII Championships at Springfield College May 15-16. For some, the meet marked their final competitive opportunity of the season; for others, this was an opportunity to extend their seasons. The steeplechasers got things started on a good note on Thursday evening, with three out of three running their best times ever. Peter Foote finally took down his PR, which he set his freshman year, running 9:32.45 for sixth place. John McGrail finished 13th in 9:46.77, a PR by exactly two seconds. Sophie Galleher made the biggest improvement of the bunch, running a 16-second PR of 11:11.18 to take fourth and provisionally qualify for the NCAA Championships. Kim Partee attempted to improve her NCAA qualifying time in the 10,000, but when she realized it wasn't going to happen, she turned her focus to winning her final collegiate race. Partee led for much of the race, before a competitor from Richard Stockton made a move and began to pull away with less than two miles to go. Partee dropped back a bit, and it looked like the race might be over, but she fought back and summoned an uncharacteristically strong kick to take the win in 37:10.02. The Amherst women have now won the 10,000 at every championship meet they've competed in this season, with Elise Tropiano winning the New England DIII title, Heather Wilson winning the Open New England title, and Partee completing the sweep here. Christina Wong also ran a strong race, and was able to pull out a three-second PR at the end, running 40:25.74.
Saturday's men 1500 and 800 marked the final opportunities for Peter Harrison and Jimmy Swanson to improve upon their NCAA provisional qualifying times. Both were in the hunt throughout the 1500, but they needed very strong last laps to improve their times. Harrison's kick proved to be just a little bit stronger than everyone else's, as he edged out a competitor from SUNY Cortland by .03 hundredths of a second, winning in 3:53.22. Swanson edged out a competitor from Brockport State to take third in 3:54.08. As they learned two days later, Harrison's time was fast enough to get him into the NCAA Championships, while Swanson's 3:53.89 from earlier in the season was just one place and .19 of a second away from getting him into the meet. Swanson came back about 90 minutes later to make a final NCAA qualifying attempt in the 800. He ran tough and finished in 1:55.52, but just did not have enough left to improve his time. Kristen Ballinger also had to improve her NCAA provisional qualifying time to be certain that she'd get into the meet. Despite running against a less competitive field than we had hoped for, Ballinger took control of the 800 from the start and did what she needed to do. She powered to a big win in 2:12.40, which was a PR, a school record, and (obviously) a freshman record. She'll continue her season on Friday, when she runs in the 800m rounds. The meet will also serve as a Ballinger family reunion, as Kristen's brother will be competing in the 400 hurdles for Carleton. In the women's 1500, Zandra Walton came back from some setbacks earlier in the season to finish her season on a strong note. She took 17th in 4:50.35. Despite being quite sick, Kate Silverman opted to take advantage of her final competitive opportunity of the season and compete in the 400 hurdles. She was well off her season best time of 66.81, but she put in a good effort to finish 27th in 1:10.79. The team had mixed results in the 5000. Florian Reichert ran a strong race to take ninth in 15:14.53, his best time of the season. Though Reichert, a German exchange student, has only been at Amherst for one year, he's had a strong positive impact on the team, and he'll be missed as much as the graduating seniors next year. Daniel Murner also had a solid day, taking 13th in 15:21.88. Mike Harbus ran well off his best, but he stuck it out in his final collegiate race to finish 24th. On the women's side, Laura Mortimer took ninth in 18:23.72, and though the time was off the PR she set one week earlier, the effort was there. The steady rain appeared to slow all of the times. Katie Moravec finished off her collegiate running career with a 16th place finish. In the men's 4x400 relay, Keith Pendergrass, Ryan Drost, Kit Callahan, and Ben Read ran 3:29.93, with Read, the only senior in the bunch, finishing his Amherst career on a solid note. The women's 4x400 relay team of Carly Levenson, Mary Doris Reggie, Susan Wasserman, and Kristen Ballinger put in a valiant effort, but they were unable to improve their NCAA provisional qualifying time in the conditions which could, by this point in the meet, be described as disgusting. Despite this, they competed very well. They finished a close second in 3:58.64, and defeated a team which ultimately ended up getting into the NCAA Championships based on a faster time they had run earlier in the season. Amherst's 4x400 missed qualifying by approximately one second, which will give them something to shoot for next year. Kristen Ballinger (800), Peter Harrison (1500), Heather Wilson (10,000), and Elise Tropiano (steeplechase/5000) will compete at the NCAA Championships beginning on Thursday, May 22nd.