by Anna Dunlavey
The men’s and women’s track teams have moved into their outdoor season, and are adapting to the elements in the process. Two weeks ago, the teams competed in the unscored 49er Classic, a large meet including some Division I schools hosted by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The weather there was warm and perfect for running. However, in last weekend’s College of Wooster Invitational, the teams had to fight through cold and snow to earn an eighth-place finish on both sides.
Unlike games in other sports, track meets cannot be rescheduled. “There’s no place to put it, because there’s big meets week after week,” Head Coach Duane Gomez said. Although some teams decided to scratch, Kenyon rallied. The field events on Friday took place in heavy snow, but Jackson Pine ’17 still came away with fourth place in the javelin throw, throwing 37.76 meters.
Sprinting in cold weather is an easy way for runners to pull muscles, so the Kenyon coaches decided to keep their runners out of the shorter races. The fastest event that any Kenyon athlete competed in was the 400-meter dash. Alex Benthem de Grave ’16 finished fifth in that race with a time of 58.55.
Many other sprinters competed in the 800-meter run, a mid-distance race. It was a new experience for a lot of them, who had only competed in sprint events before. For the men, Noah Winters ’15 had the highest finish at eighth place, with a time of 2:10.91. On the women’s side, Emma Levant ’16 placed fourth with a time of 2:39.20 and Gillian Blackwell ’18 took eighth with a time of 2:40.77.
The long-distance runners competed in their usual events, but the weather made them much more challenging. “The cold limited our ability to run well,” Nat Fox ’16 said. “I don’t think anyone had their best performance, but it’s one of those meets where you go to it and you learn a different lesson.” Fox finished in third place in the 1,500-meter race with a time of 4:18.65.
The weather did not seem to have an adverse effect on Mollie O’Leary ’17, who won the 1,500-meter race. She crossed the line in a time of 5:08.68 “I didn’t really know how to take it at first,” O’Leary said of preparing for the race. She decided to take it slow because of the cold weather, but as the race went on, she said, “I just stayed at the lead of the pack and broke away at the end. It was kind of unexpected.”
Fox competed fresh off of a great weekend in North Carolina, where he came within a few seconds of beating a personal record. His time in the 1,500-meter at the 49ers Classic was 4:07.69, a 32nd-place finish. His PR in the event is 4:03.00, which he ran as a first year. Fox also finished the 3,000-meter race in 9:09.20, putting him in 13th place.
These performances helped Fox earn one of the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) runner of the week honors. “I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m happy about it,” Fox said. “When you’re beating out your peers in any regard, it’s kind of fun.” Levant and Pine were also named NCAC athletes of the week.
Sam Lagasse ’16 also competed in the 3,000-meter race, finishing in fifth and setting a new school record. His time of 8:42.44 beats the former school record by about six seconds. Lagasse finished well in the 5,000-meter race as well, placing 18th in a time of 15:06.01.
Without snow as a concern, Pine was able to throw the javelin a much farther distance of 45.69 meters, enough for a 12th-place finish. “It’s a good chance for you to have the opportunity to compete really well,” Gomez said of the North Carolina meet, noting that the athletes were all still in shape from the NCAC conference championships the weekend before.
This Saturday, both teams will go to Ohio Wesleyan University to compete in the Marv Frye Invitational. This is the last chance to qualify for the outdoor season’s All-Ohio Championships, which will be held in two weeks, also at Ohio Wesleyan. Qualifying for All-Ohio in the outdoor season is different from the indoor season. To qualify for indoor, runners must finish within the top-16 places of their event. For outdoor track, runners have to finish their event under a certain standard. Runners have specific times, throwers have specific distances and jumpers have specific heights to meet or beat.
Runners can use times from the indoor season to qualify for All-Ohio if they meet the standards. “That takes a little bit of the pressure off,” O’Leary said.
Harsh temperatures and wind conditions may present a challenge all throughout outdoor season. “The hardest part is transitioning to the outdoor weather,” Gomez said. “Outdoor is a completely different sport.”