Two months, six meets, and eight competing at the DIII New England Championships: this year’s indoor track and field season was one of success and sibling-hood. From the first meet on Jan. 14 — before classes had even begun — to the final championship meet at The Track at New Balance, the season brought many personal records and even a new team record in the 4×200 meter.
One of the most notable moments of the season was the inaugural “Sisters Meet,” hosted by Smith College. Only three teams were present: Wellesley, Mount Holyoke and Smith, all part of the original ‘Seven Sisters’ group of colleges. The first of its kind, this meet was junior Emily Doyle’s favorite meet of the season.
“You get a lot more flexibility to do stuff that you want at Sisters,” Doyle said. “You talk to other teams a lot more. It’s a lot of fun.” With only three teams and no men’s events, the meet not only ran faster but forged a further connection between the three colleges, promoting a more intimate atmosphere. And with 66 points, 10 points ahead of second place Smith College, Wellesley took first in the team competition.
Individually on the track, sophomore Aoife Fitzgerald, first-year Ella Whinney, and senior Claire Anderson won the 400, 1000, and 3000 meter events respectively, while Wellesley’s 4×400 meter team, comprised of Fitzgerald, first-year Charlie Barron, senior Alejandra Castillo, and first-year Sara Maeve Klingensmith, and distance medley relay team, comprised of Whinney, senior Ellie Murphy-Weise, first-year Aleah Ghiasuddin, and first-year Claire Peng, also took the win. On the field, Doyle won the weight throw while Klingensmith, fellow first-year Dova Koretsky, and sophomore Erin Dickinson swept the triple jump.
“We had a solid indoor season with solid performances, improvement across the team, and exceptional team chemistry and camaraderie,” said cross country and track and field coach Phil Jennings, noting the Sisters meet as a highlight of the season.
Though the Sisters Meet was the last meet for some, eight Wellesley athletes qualified for the Division III New England Championships held at The Track at New Balance in Boston on Feb. 24 and 25. In order to compete at this meet, athletes must meet qualifying times earlier in the season, earning them a spot among some of the best athletes in the region. Fitzgerald competed in the 400 meter, while Ghiasuddin competed in the 800 meter, Murphy-Weise in the 1600 meter, Anderson in the 5000 meter, and Whinney ran the 3000 meter to take an impressive third place in the event. The 4×200 meter relay team also competed, consisting of Klingensmith, Fitzgerald, and sophomores Merete Ogah and Ria Goveas.
“Making it to DIII was one of my goals and being able to compete there was like a dream come true,” said sprinter Ogah. “It’s definitely motivating me to work hard and try to make it there again.”
The season brought a multitude of personal records for a variety of athletes, including thrower Emily Doyle. “I PRed at every single meet except for one, so I was pretty happy with that. … I feel like I had a very different experience from everybody else coming in from a year and a half off. I was so ready to get back into competing that I didn’t really care how well I did. And honestly, I think that helped my performance. I was just excited about the season and excited to throw and have fun.”
Beyond her own personal progress, Doyle is excited for the future of the team; with five throwers this season, it is the most they’ve had since she has been part of the team. With quite a few first years in each of the event groups — throws, jumps, sprints, and distance — it was a season of firsts for many. One such first: the 4×200 meter relay team made up of Klingensmith, Fitzgerald, Merete Ogah, and Ria Goveas, set a new Wellesley record in the event with a time of 1:49.63, just breaking last year’s record of 1:50.61 set by Sally Richardson, Kate Winkler, Dallis Kehoe, and Eriko Darcy.
“My favorite experience was when our relay team broke the school record,” said Ogah. “We had never run the relay together before, so it came as a total surprise.”
With a slew of accomplishments to mark the season, its conclusion called for celebration — but also preparation for the upcoming outdoor track and field season. “I’m excited to kick off the outdoor season with our spring break trip down to Atlanta next week and continue building off of the progress we made this indoor season,” Jennings said. “With only five outdoor meets before the DIII New England Championship meet, we want to make the most of each competitive opportunity.” In Atlanta, the team will compete at Emory University — a change from the usual New England competitors. And both coaches and athletes seem to have big goals for the outdoor season.
“Team goals for the outdoor season include winning the outdoor Wellesley-Smith-Mount Holyoke tri-meet, improving on last year’s finish at NEWMAC’s, and continuing to have more qualifiers for the DIII New England Championships,” said Jennings.
Meanwhile, Doyle has her own goals. “Breaking the javelin record would be really cool … [the current record] is right around my PR, so I think I can do it,” said Doyle.
So, perhaps there are more firsts to come, more records to be broken, and more meets to be won. In closing, Jennings encourages spectators to come support the team at their one home meet versus Smith College and Mount Holyoke College on April 22.