Women's track and field exhibits youth and potential

By Will Kennedy

All -Americans Callie PaStarr ’07, Kaela Schramm ’07, and Susan Brown ’07 each earned their respective places in the record books of the Macalester women’s track and field team and in the memories of their teammates, but none of them will score points in this year’s meets. With all three having graduated last year, that burden now falls to the 30 or so women that compose this year’s strikingly young squad, about 25 of which are underclassmen.

While inexperience is an inherent component of this year’s group of runners, jumpers, hurdlers and throwers, the team’s talented group of young athletes bodes well for the program’s future. “You see the potential and you bring them along,” he said. “The tough part of couching is not bringing them along too quickly.”

In order to keep from pushing younger athletes too hard, the women’s team entered relatively few events at the Bethel invitational last week. For example, no women will pole vault or jump in competition until later in the season. The meet however, offered evidence of the potential that Peper sees in his team.

All-MIAC cross country runner Erin Lowrey ’10 placed second in the 3000-meters and Emily Schur placed second in the 1000-meter race, while sprinter Emily Matthews ’10 took third in the 55-meter dash.

“Where we did compete, we competed stronger or as strong as we did at the beginning of last year,” Peper said of his returning athletes.

Macalester also saw an impressive first collegiate performance from thrower Jenni Schubert ’11, who placed fourth in the shot put.

With one meet under their belts to date, women’s track and field has several further challenges to tackle, including a meet every week, before transitioning to the outdoor season in spring. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome, however, is the problem that has plagued virtually every Macalester team of late: finding places and times to practice now that Macalester no longer has an indoor track of its own. Track and field athletes regularly travel to five different locations during the course of a week for practice including Concordia University, St. Catherine’s and IHM, as they try to hone their skills for later in the year.

Peper happily praises the athletes who persevere through a tough winter season. “It’s a credit to the athletes who are working under adverse conditions,” he said.

Ultimately, while the indoor season is competitive, track and field at Macalester gears its training toward the final meet of the outdoor season in May. With the indoor season just underway, Peper aims to improve his athletes without putting too much pressure on them or breaking them down before the all-important end of the year conference meet.

“I’m just learning where they’re at and adjusting every week,” he said of his team. “I just want them to do the best that they can and to learn.