Despite the loss of several stars to the MCATs this weekend, the women’s track team passed its last league test before Heptagonal Championships.
With resources stretched thin, a handful of athletes took up events they had not tried in years, and the Bulldogs defeated Harvard, 86-77. A win in the 4 x 400 relay to end the meet secured five points, a team victory and an undefeated regular season in the Ivy League.
Throwers Erica Davis ’07 and Margo Angelopoulos ’06 were two of those digging into their bag of tricks. Neither had thrown a javelin since high school, but each spent the week practicing in anticipation of the absence of four of the team’s most consistent performers. The Elis had to fill the void left by Joslyn Woodard ’06 and Katrina Castille ’07, a pair that helps lead the sprinting and jumping corps, and distance runners Claire Hamilton ’07 and Ashley Campbell ’07.
Davis and Angelopoulos finished first and second, respectively, in the hammer throw (47.05, 45.64 meters), discus (43.04, 40.73 meters) and the shot put (13.54, 12.34 meters), combining to score over a fourth of the team’s points. Davis has been dominant all season, and Saturday proved to be no different. Angelopoulos’ appearance in the javelin also secured a critical point.
“I got the point we were looking for, so I’m happy,” Angelopoulos said. “There’s no one person who got our points. Everyone got the points we needed, and everyone stepped up.”
Katie Dlesk ’07 was forced to work overtime as well. Dlesk, the Elis’ best 400-meter runner, raced three times. She won the 400 hurdles in 1:04.99 and the open 400 in 58.33 seconds, then joined the 4 x 400 team for its meet-clinching victory. The relay squads put in extra work all week on hand offs to smooth out any glitches resulting from the shuffled lineups.
Sharifa Love ’09, who ran on the relay team after missing several weeks to injury, said the team rallied despite the absences.
“We got some people out doing events they don’t usually do,” Love said. “Katie definitely stepped up and did well.”
Lindsay Donaldson ’08 won the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs with times of 4:30.97 and 9:27.60, respectively. Each victory came over the Crimson’s top distance runner and one of the best in the Ivy League, sophomore Lindsay Scherf. Donaldson and Scherf, along with Columbia’s Caroline Bierbaum and Princeton’s Cack Ferrell, comprise a quartet of elite Ancient Eight distance runners that will all be in contention in several events at Heps in two weeks.
Captain Molly Lederman ’06 also appears to be ready for the postseason. She won the pole vault with a height of 3.50 meters, followed by teammate Ashley Nolet ’07 in second with the same height.
Dionna Thomas ’06 (12.05 meters) and Olakitan Awolesi ’08 (11.72 meters) dominated the triple jump and finished first and second. Their performances were indicative of how the meet was won. In five events the Bulldogs claimed the top two spots, taking the big points and leaving scraps behind.
But with only the 4 x 400 relay remaining, first place was all that mattered. The Elis led by four, and winning the event guaranteed five points, the difference between a nine-point Bulldog victory and a one-point defeat. Jen Lin ’09 anchored the squad to the win, crossing the finish line in 3:56.38 to decide the meet.
With the win came a perfect regular season in both the winter and spring and burgeoning confidence as the Elis head into the postseason. And a triumph over the Cantabs — at the last home meet of Crimson head coach Frank Haggerty’s career — was as sweet as ever.
“It’s just a huge rivalry between our teams even though the coaches are the best of friends,” sprinter Katie Greene ’06 said. “It was a great way to set us up going into Penn Relays and Heps, and it’s always rewarding to beat Harvard.”
Next weekend some of the Bulldogs will head to Philadelphia for the Penn Relays, one of the nation’s biggest track and field events every year. They will return to Philadelphia again the next weekend for Heps, hosted by Penn.
The Elis finished second at Indoor Heps in February and are expected to challenge four-time defending champion Cornell for an outdoor league crown. Angelopoulos said such strong team performances during the regular season have the Bulldogs riding a wave of momentum into the final competitions.
“We’re definitely going to keep our energy up until Heps,” she said. “I think everyone is really excited to get there.”