Throughout the indoor season and thus far into the outdoor season, track and field has focused on the team’s ability to compete with the NESCAC elite. Though never a good idea to overly inflate expectations, it would be naïve at this stage to bet against Wesleyan performing exceptionally in the last wave of competition. With a strong showing at the Minuteman Invitational at UMass last weekend, and with the first Little Three meet due to take place next weekend, it is time to let actions speak for themselves.
The Minuteman Invitational was more than a light warm-up. Both men and women went up against a number of Division I competitors, allowing Wesleyan’s outstanding athletes to take center stage. On the men’s side, Will Sawyer ’16 did exceptionally well to place seventh in the pole vault, clearing 13-9 1/4—just 2 1/2 shy of the school record. Elsewhere, Austin Cotant ’13 was unlucky to place just outside of the points in ninth with a time of 1:55.19 in the 800m.
“We had some great performances from a number of people,” said Jack Pacelle ’13. “It was a good tune-up for the Little Three meet next week.”
On the women’s side, the team put up some very impressive figures to take 14th in a field of 19 teams—including seven from Division I. The 4x100m relay took sixth with a season-best time of :49.54, while Geneva Jonathan ’15 continued her successful 400m hurdles season, taking eighth in 1:07.56.
“By the end of this year, I am looking to break the women’s 400m hurdles record,” Jonathan said. “I am not far off the time, and I have already qualified for all the championship meets.”
Yet the star of the day was Alexis Walker ’16, who not only broke the school long jump record with a leap of 18-3 3/4 to take fourth, but also placed third in the 100m—just three milliseconds off first—with a time of :12.49.
“My performance at UMass was my best this season,” Walker said. “I was definitely excited when I realized that I broke the school record. Holding records as a freshman feels amazing.”
Though there is still a large and very important chunk of the season to go, Walker’s achievements to date have been extraordinary. Already a long jump All-American in the indoor season, Walker hitting such heights as a freshman speaks volumes about the ability and potential she possesses.
“Some tips I would give incoming athletes is to focus in practice and listen to what the coaches have to say because they know their stuff,” she commented. “Your practice performance translates at meets, so it is best to start with perfect focused practice to have a successful season.”
It seems fitting to add on a couple of pearls of wisdom from a senior who has been there and done it all: two-time DIII All-American Bryan Marsh ’13.
“I guess it really just takes time and a commitment to what you are doing. I have had to plan my work schedule and study time around practices and races during the week and on the weekends,” said Marsh, who has goals of his own as this season draws to a close. “It would be awesome to get the outdoor 5k record which is currently held by Amby Burfoot [’68]. It would be cool to take that record from a legend.”
The next meet for the team will be a Little Three contest, due to take place at Williams on Saturday, April 20. The weekend after that, the NESCAC Championships begin, and all of these athletes’ hard work and determination will be put to the test.