The track and field team has just begun practices for what is arguably the longest athletic season of the year, since it encompasses both the indoor season, which runs from January to March, and the outdoor season, which concludes in May. For many track athletes, this comes on the heels of cross country season. Of the track team’s seniors, eight were on the 2016 cross country team, and will likely continue competing together until just before they graduate.

Last year, the team faced some turbulence, including the transition to a new coach, but still managed several impressive showings, particularly in certain events.

In indoor track last year, Wesleyan runners had the most success in long distance events. Last year at the New England Indoor Championships, the highest-scoring female athlete for the Cards was Molly Schassberger ’17, who came in 13th in the 3000m run with a time of 10:08.11. On the men’s team, the highest-scoring performance came from Will Dudek ’17, who finished the mile run in 28th with a time of 4:24:51. Both Schassberger and Dudek return to the team this year for their final seasons.

Five of the seven Cardinals who performed most impressively at the East Coast Athletic Championships (ECAC) return for this season. Tate Knight ’18 came in eighth place in the 3000m run with a time of 8:41.93. Jenny Aguiar ’19 won sixth place in the 400m with a time of 58.05. Julia Mitchell ’19 finished 15th in the mile with a time of 5:16.06. Christina Hebner ’17 ran the 3000m in 10:22.26 to take seventh place.  Allegra Fils-Aime ’19 earned fourth place in the triple jump with a leap of 11.18m. Here as well, three of the five successes mentioned above were in distance events, though Schassberger and Dudek were at the Tufts University Invitational at the time of ECAC championships. There, Schassberger took seventh in the 5000 m run at 17:33.90 and Dudek took 13th in the 3000 m by posting a time of 8:40.24.

As a team, the women finished 11th at the New England DIII championships, while the men came in 24th place. Of the top five finishers in the men’s division, four were NESCAC schools, indicating the high level of competition within the conference. Top performances on the day included Aguiar’s first place finish in the 600m, and Alexis Walker ’16’s second-place finish in the long jump.

In last year’s outdoor season, the men and women also recorded impressive performances, each team finishing 7th at the NESCAC championships.

In that season, eight athletes were named to the All-NESCAC team. This lauded group was comprised of two men and six women: Agbon Edomwonyi ’16 recorded a discus throw of 45.04 meters, while Andrew McCracken ’19 pole vaulted a remarkable 4.40 meters. Aguiar, Alex Dibrindisi ’19, Hannah Goodman ’16 and Ananya Subrahmanian ’18, formed a 4 by 400 team that placed third at NESCAC championships with a time of 3:59.69. Schassberger received her first all-conference honor with her third place in the 10,000 meter run (37:12.74). Finally, Kiley Kennedy ’16 placed second in the pole vault with a mark of 3.35 meters. Of these eight athletes, who give Wesleyan some of its greatest competitive edges, only three have graduated, leaving the teams with relatively little lost from the previous season.

In addition to their success on the track, last year’s track teams performed admirably in the academic realm as well. Both the men’s and women’s team won all-academic honors for their strong performance as a team in the classroom. Two athletes in particular, Dudek and Schassberger, were named All-Academic individual athletes, which required finishing the season ranked among the nation’s top 35 runners in an individual event.

The overall youth of both the men’s and women’s teams bodes well for the upcoming season and future seasons. The squads should be particularly strong in distance events, as last year’s teams were particularly adept at long distance races. Additionally, nearly all of the talented freshmen who participated in cross country will continue on to the indoor track season. This will add a fresh spark to both the men’s and women’s rosters, as 4 out of the 14 cross country runners sent to the New England Championships were from the class of 2020.

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