The spring season is a short one, but the women’s track team is making the most of limited time.
Competing in their first meet on the East Coast, the Bulldogs won seven events to distance themselves from the competition at Saturday’s SCSU Invitational. They took the team title with 165 points, well ahead of second-place finisher Boston College, which scored 106.5.
Thrower Erica Davis ’07 carried the load. Davis, the starting center on the basketball team all winter, threw Saturday for just the second time since last spring. But she showed no rust — Saturday was the strongest performance of her relatively short career.
Davis won the shot put and discus with heaves of 13.63 meters and 44.76 meters, respectively. Her performance in the discus was a personal record, even better than her second-place throw at Heps last year. For an encore, Davis finished fifth in the hammer throw, again eclipsing a personal best with a 44.37-meter effort. All told, she scored 22 of the Elis’ 165 points.
Now that the basketball season is over, Davis has taken to track with a vengeance over the past four weeks.
“I think that overall it’s been really good because, unlike the past two seasons, I feel so far that I have been able to devote as much time and effort as I can to track,” Davis said. “It made a big improvement not just on my performance but on my outlook on the sport as a whole. I don’t know too much about my confidence, but I am more comfortable than I’ve ever been.”
Margo Angelopoulos ’06, Davis’ more experienced compliment, grabbed another 14 points. She finished fifth in the shot put (12.69 meters), second in the discus (41.78 meters) and fourth in the hammer (44.28 meters).
The field events appeared to be the squad’s biggest question mark heading into outdoor competition. The throwing unit lacks the depth to counter any potential let-downs or injuries among the top two athletes. But with the instant emergence of Davis as a threat in three events and the continued consistency of Angelopoulos, those questions have been moot thus far.
“There’s some concern about depth, especially since Margo will be graduating,” said Sharifa Love ’09, who finished fourth in the 400 and helped the 4 x 400 team to second. “But the fact is, both [Angelopoulos and Davis] have put up great numbers and have had a lot of success.”
A handful of other wins headlined the trip to nearby Southern Connecticut. Katrina Castille ’07 won the 100-meter dash in 12.33 seconds and teammate Joslyn Woodard ’06 placed third in 12.55 seconds. The duo then led the 4 x 100 relay team to a winning time of 47.45 seconds. Woodard also stole the show in the long jump, winning with a leap of 5.87 meters.
Captain Molly Lederman ’06 won the pole vault with a height of 3.80 meters, followed by teammate Ashley Nolet ’07 (3.65 meters) in second. Claire Hamilton ’07 rounded out the group of winners, taking the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 11:09.10.
Bevin Peters ’09, who finished sixth in the steeplechase despite running it for only the second time in her life, said the new events and the outdoor stage have helped rejuvenate the Bulldogs over the past few weeks.
“I think a lot of people are optimistic going into the spring,” Peters said. “Some people came up just short of where they wanted to be in the winter, but I think a lot of people have been putting in a lot of really solid performances so far.”
Those solid performances did not always secure victories. But seven second-place finishes supplemented the points earned in the seven Eli wins.
In addition to Davis, Nolet and the 4 x 400 team, four others placed second over the course of the meet. Lindsay Donaldson ’08 took second in the 1,500 meters in 4:32.20. Jen Lin ’09 placed second in the 400 hurdles in 1:04.18. Dionna Thomas ’06 got a silver in the triple jump with an 11.94-meter effort. And Kristen Farley ’09 claimed second in the open 800-meter run in 2:16.87.
Next week, the Bulldogs will travel to Princeton, N.J., for the Princeton Invitational. The meet will be the last of the season’s three opening invitationals, followed by an onslaught of Ivy League and postseason competition. Only a few weeks separate the Elis’ early-season tune-ups from the meat of their season.
Davis said early success bodes well for the later spring competitions.
“It was a great way to start the season,” she said. “To get started on the season so well, beginning with break, is really a good indicator.”