Over the weekend, Wesleyan dominated the track at the New England Division III Championships hosted by Smith College. The Cardinal women broke previous school records in three events and tied Southern Maine for third, behind MIT and Williams, out of 30 competing teams. The women had seven top-eight point scorers for a total of 58 team points.
Alexis Walker ’16 had a monster performance as she scored 20 of her team’s 58 points, running for first in the 60m to break Wesleyan’s previous standard with a time of 7.74 seconds and jumping to first place with a 18’3.75” long jump against 19 competitors. Walker’s time in the 60m placed her third nationally in Division III thus far, while her long jump ties her for sixth in the country for all of Division III.
“The race felt really great and I was relaxed; still pretty nervous, but definitely relaxed,” Walker wrote in an email to The Argus. “I just tried to execute the race and luckily it all fell into place.”
Out of eight other hard-hitting competitors, Walker out-ran her nearest opponent, a runner from Amherst, by 0.05 seconds. This degree of nail-biting competition pervaded the meet but did not deter Wesleyan from prevailing.
“Competition at DIII New England championships is always [competitive] in every event,” Walker wrote. “Going into it, we already knew that we would have to compete hard to place in the top [eight] in order to score team points.”
And indeed they did. Ellie Martin ’16 grabbed second place in the 600m in a record-breaking time of 1:37.15, while Ananya Subrahmanian ’18 followed close behind in third place to score six more points for the Cardinals. In the 4×400 and 4×800, both relay teams nabbed first place. Martin and Subrahmanian ran in the former along with Melissa Luning ’15 and anchor Sarah Swenson ’18. They finished just 0.30 seconds ahead of the second-place Williams relay team.
The 4×800 squad, made up of the consistently high-performing quartet of Sydney Cogswell ’16, Nikita Rajgopal ’17, Aida Julien ’18, and Aidan Bardos ’17, broke the third Wesleyan record of the weekend with a collective time of 9:23.65. They comfortably edged out the second-place Middlebury squad with a margin of nearly seven seconds.
Other point scorers included a pair of seventh-place performances by Swenson in the 400m and Bardos in the 800m.
“Wesleyan did great!” Walker wrote. “The past few years that I have been here, the women’s track team has improved a lot and I know we are only going to get better. I am so proud of how we did but there is still work to be done.”
For the men’s team, LaDarius Drew ’15 secured fifth place in the 60m for four team points, while Agbon Edomwonyi ’16 nabbed seventh in the shot put.
Two weeks prior, Drew grabbed first in the 60m at MIT’s Gordon Kelly Invitational. It was a non-scoring meet for all participating teams. There, Edomwonyi got second in the shot put and third in the weight throw. Additionally, Austin Dhillon ’18 won second in the 800m, Tate Knight ’18 placed third in the 3000m, and Thomas Reid ’18 secured second in the 60m hurdles.
“MIT was a competitive meet with some strong New England teams showing up,” Dhillon wrote in an email to The Argus. “However, lots of the top runners from these squads were competing in the Boston University meet that was going on simultaneously, so this lowered the competition a bit. Still, it was a sound field. In my event specifically, there were several runners seeded around the time I was aiming for, 1 minute 59 seconds (the qualifying time for DIII New England’s). It was a perfect field to shoot for this qualifying time.”
Walker also secured second place in the 60m at MIT for the women. Cogswell placed the same in the 1000m, while Caroline Elmendorf ’17 and Molly Schassberger ’17 both finished first and second in the mile, respectively.
“Normally my strategy is to let other people pace the race, and follow them and out kick at the end,” Elmendorf wrote in an email to The Argus. “However there wasn’t anyone to do that at MIT, so I was glad that I was still able to push myself. For my next race I’m still working on my mental game, staying competitive all the way through the race.”
Up next for the Cardinals is the New England Open Meet at Boston University. After a stellar weekend performance at DIIIs, Walker is hoping to give her body a rest. But one thing is for sure: Nationals are on her radar, and they’re coming up.
“I’m not sure what is next,” Walker wrote. “It all depends on what the coaches and I think is best. Whether I should keep competing these next two weeks or take another week off to let my body recover for nationals.”