The women’s and men’s track and field teams managed to stride and jump to seventh and eighth place finishes at the Silfen Invitational this past weekend. Competing against 16 other teams in New London, Conn., both Cardinal squads were able to place among the top eight squads of their respective divisions.

“Saturday was a great day for a lot of the Wes track team,” said Nikita Rajgopal ’17, a member of the first-place 4×400-meter relay that day. “We were competing in the best weather we’ve seen so far and I think that led to a lot of strong performances.”

On the field, familiar faces continued to post impressive results. Tara Peng ’20 placed third in the high jump with a mark of 1.53m. This is an improvement from the first outdoor meet of the season, where she achieved the same place on the podium but finished with a mark of 1.48m. Peng also finished sixth in the pole vault with a height of 2.65m, trailing her teammates Casey Rothschild ’20 (3.10m) and Colleen O’Neill ’18 (2.80m) who placed third and fourth, respectively. This is the second time Rothschild has achieved a score of 3.10m for the same event, which brought her a first-place finish at the Wesleyan Spring Classic only a few weeks earlier.

Once again, Andrew McCracken ’19 and Jessy Carrasco-Gonzalez ’18 dominated the pole vaulting in the men’s division, finishing first and second with final heights of 4.20m and 4.10m. The pair has become accustomed to monopolizing this event, finishing first and second not only in last week’s meet but at the Wesleyan Spring Classic three weeks prior. In the javelin throw, Ricardo Vazquez ’20 earned fifth place with a throw of 48.18m. Fellow rookie Jack Northrop ’20 came in ninth place during the long jump with 5.95m. Olaniyi Adebayo ’19, competing in a pair of throwing events, claimed 11th in the shot put with a mark of 12.20m and 10th in the discus with a throw of 32.79m.

These impressive feats were not overlooked, particularly by Head Coach Walter Curry.

“Our team is starting to gather momentum as we head into the last two weeks of the season,” said Curry. “After getting over some injuries and sickness, the team is starting to get back to the form that had them running, jumping, and throwing very strongly during the indoor season.”

Recovery turned into victory for Allegra Fils-Aime ’19, who returned to the track after a knee injury that has kept her out for most of the season. The Silfen Invitation not only marked her first meet since January, but also her first time competing in over a year.

“I’m mainly a triple jumper, but I haven’t been able to get back into it because of my injury,” said Fils-Aime. “However, being on a relay is a fulfilling replacement on my primary event.”

Fils-Aime, alongside Rajgopal, Jenny Aguiar ’19, and Tess Holland ’18, won the 4x400m relay, crossing the finish line at 4:04.50. She also ran the 4x100m with Aguiar, Holland and Alex Dibrindisi ’19, earning an eighth-place finish.

“Personally, Saturday’s meet was big because it was a day of firsts,” said Fils-Aime. “It was the first time we ran with this specific 4×4 team, yet we ran the fastest time of the season. It was a unique experience for me because I got to come back for my first meet, run my fastest 400 ever, and be part of the winning relay team.”

“Personally, I had a pretty good day,” Rajgopal said. “I love running relays. Track can be a very individual sport, but with relays you get more of the sense that you’re running for your team, not just yourself. That makes the race a lot more exciting to run.”

The Cardinal relays continued to excel as the 4x800m team of Rhoen Fiutak ’19, Christina Hebner ’17, Sylwia Lipior ’18, and Julia Mitchell ’19 notched a second-place finish with a mark of 10:16.76. The men’s 4x400m lineup of Frank McField ’20, Drew Trotman ’18, Colin Mahoney ’18, and Kyle Shin ’20 placed fifth overall, crossing the finish line in 3:33.17.

Many of the teams’ relay members also scored big in individual events. Dibrindisi finished fourth in the 400m and posted a time of 1.00.65, while 4x100m relay teammate Aguiar finished seventh in the 100m dash with a mark of 13.02. Senior members Molly Schassberger and Caroline Elmendorf qualified for the New England Outdoor Championships with 8th and 10th place finishes in the 5000m run, scoring times of 17:39.17 and 17:47.29 respectively.

Tate Knight ’18 also qualified for the championships with a first-place finish in the 3000m steeplechase, recording a time of 9:40.66. McField and Connor Sexton ’20 also thrived in their respective races. McField earned 10th in the 200m dash and Sexton finished 10th in the 5000m run.

Both Curry and his athletes have high hopes for the last week of the season and championships beyond.

“For the rest of the season, I’m looking forward to competing in the relay against more competitive teams at the NESCAC and Division III championships,” said Fils-Aime.

“I’m definitely excited for NESCACs,” Rajgopal said. “It’s our biggest meet of the year and basically what we’ve been working towards since our season started on November 1st.”

The Cardinals will compete next week at home on Saturday, April 22 in the J. Elmer Swanson Invitational, the final regular season contest before the NESCAC Championships.

“We hope with good weather and a big student crowd to support the team, stellar performances will continue all the way to our championship part of the season,” Curry said.

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