Amherst Earns Three Top-10 Finishes at NCAA Outdoor Track Championships

OSHKOSH, WI – Amherst College sent four student-athletes to the 2008 NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which took place on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Competition at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh kicked off Thursday, May 22 and concluded this afternoon, with the Lord Jeffs earning a trio of top-10 finishes.

By the end of the three-day event, the Amherst women had earned seven points to finish in a tie for 38th place, while the Amherst men were represented for the first time since 2005 but did not earn any points.

Thursday saw the 2008 season come to an end for a pair of Amherst runners, with first-year Peter Harrison (Concord, NH) and senior Heather Wilson (Danvers, MA) taking part in the 1500-meter Run trials and the 10000-meter Run finals, respectively. Harrison was the first Amherst male to qualify for the NCAA Championships since 2005, but his time of 3:58.93 was not enough to advance him to the finals. Still, the young Lord Jeff will bring valuable experience at the national level to next year's Amherst squad.

Wilson already had a great career under her belt prior to this weekend's national championships, but it came to a close with a 14th place finish in the 10k (36:55.79). In addition to being a three-time All-NESCAC honoree for both cross country and outdoor track, this year Wilson was named the conference's Most Outstanding Performer before leading the Jeffs to the program's first national cross country championship. Wilson earned three NESCAC Cross Country Performer of the Week honors this past fall and also earned USTFCCCA All-America recognition.

On Friday, first-year Kristen Ballinger (Wenatchee, WA) and junior Elise Tropiano (Plainview, NY) took to the track as the only two remaining Amherst runners. Ballinger improved upon her qualifying time of 2:12.40 by nearly two seconds in the 800-meter Run trials, as her mark of 2:10.48 was the best of the 20 participants and was good enough to place her in Saturday's finals.

Tropiano qualified for the 3000-meter Steeplechase with a time of 10:36.46 at the Division III New England Championships, and she was able to earn the Jeffs' first team points of the weekend on Friday. Her mark of 10:35.78 was a slight improvement from her qualification time and left her in sixth place, as she picked up three points for Amherst.

Tropiano returned to the track on Saturday to compete in the 5000-meter Run, but not before Ballinger finished off her weekend in the 800 finals. The Amherst first-year matched Tropiano's sixth-place finish to grab another three points for the Jeffs, as she ran a 2:10.95 to nearly match her trial time. Like Harrison, Ballinger will surely bring valuable experience to the 2009 Amherst squad.

In the 5k, Tropiano capped off Amherst's weekend by grabbing the eighth and final scoring spot for one team point. The junior standout shattered her mark of 17:49.30 that she set at last year's NCAA Championships, as this year she crossed the line in 17:07.17.


Amherst Results
Peter Harrison 1500-meter Run Trials – 3:58.93
Heather Wilson 10000-meter Run Finals – 36:55.79 (14th of 16)
Kristen Ballinger 800-meter Run Trials – 2:10.48
Elise Tropiano 3000-meter Steeplechase Finals – 10:35.78 (6th of 18)
Kristen Ballinger 800-meter Run Finals – 2:10.95 (6th of 9)
Elise Tropiano 5000-meter Run Finals – 17:07.17 (8th of 18)