Women's track and field compete against DI competition

By Josh Springer

Amidst stiff competition last Friday at the Parent’s Day Open, hosted by the University of Minnesota, the women’s track and field team challenged and out-raced athletes from neighboring Division I and II schools. A competitive field was exactly what coaches and athletes wanted in pursuit of MIAC qualifying marks.While only a handful of the women qualified, they represented both Macalester and Division III athletes at the meet. “It’s been intimidating running at the collegiate level,” Christine Stresman ’11 said. “It’s intense but fun.”

In racing, jumping, and throwing against competitors with athletic scholarships, the Mac women established some of their best marks.

After graduating three All-Americans last year, the women’s team is significantly younger than it has been in the past several years. Nevertheless, Head Track and Field Coach Martin Peper remains confident about the team’s roster size, talent, and most importantly, potential. “This a younger team,” Peper said. “Not any less talented, just younger.”

Erin Lowrey ’10 had the top performance of the meet, placing 6th out of 22 entrants in the 5000-meter race. Her time of 18:40.73 currently ranks her 9th in the MIAC standings leading into the final weeks of the indoor season. Even though Lowrey tripped and fell onto the infield with four laps remaining in the race, she was able to maintain composure and finish strong.

“It was my first indoor 5K,” Lowrey said. “It was great that we had such good competition.”

Young middle distance runners Robin Major ’11, Libby Tollefson ’11, and Tara McCoy ’11 competed well in their respective races. Major finished 7th in the 600-meter race with a probable MIAC qualifying time of 1:44.33. “The distance women have really come through since cross country,” team co-captain Emily Dunn ’09 said. “A lot of us like running shorter and faster races.”

Showing potential, Mari Mejia ’11 exceeded the 15-foot mark in the long jump and placed 4th in her flight. Of the sprinters, Maddie Mette ’10 ran a competitive time in the 60-yard dash, finishing in 8.59 seconds. Mejia raced just under her teammate’s time to finish at 8.56.

For the throwers, Jennifer Schubert had a successful performance in the weight toss, finishing 4th in her flight and marking a distance that matched her personal best.

The Mac women were without co-captain and top sprinter Emily Mathews ’10 who is out because of injuries. “We are all pretty close, so when people are missing it’s not the same,” Lowrey said.

Mathews, along with Lowrey and Dunn have assumed leadership roles on the team lacking a dominant senior class. “There tend to be more problems with injuries and illness during the indoor season,” Dunn said. “We are definitely excited about the outdoor season.”

The team has undoubtedly struggled without the presence of a working field house and proper indoor track. While distance runners remain mostly unaffected continuing to run on the streets of St. Paul, the sprinters, jumpers, and throwers are forced to practice elsewhere. In their case, “elsewhere” includes Concordia University, Bethel, and at times, the University of Minnesota.

Finding times that work for the whole team proves challenging as well. Even so, Peper emphasizes the team’s cohesiveness.

“They’re a team,” Peper said without hesitation. “The sophomore group has taken the reigns while the first-years are continuing to develop and progress.”

Although the team has always focused on the outdoor season for peek performances, the women will nevertheless seek to race competitively during the final two indoor meets.

“We tend to start slower,” Peper said. “It’s the nature of our training not to sacrifice outdoor performances for having a super indoor season.” Coach Peper’s indoor philosophy consistently centers on building core strength and fundamental technique throughout the late winter months.

“Indoor is like a practice period” Stresman adds. “Sure it’s practice, but I still, and always want to do well.”

The women will race this evening in Northfield at the Carleton Pre-MIAC meet. The indoor conference championships will be held at St. John’s University, which are scheduled for the following weekend.

Last year, led by two now-graduated
All-American athletes, the women had a phenomenal conference meet placing 4th. The current team, which is young and still training hard will look to compete to the best of their present abilities. “Our goal is to compete and to do the absolute best we can.” Peper concluded.