Track and field athletes eager to test themselves at nationals

Select Maroons who have qualified look forward to next week’s D-III NCAA meet.

By Dave Kates

Next Thursday marks the beginning of the end for this year’s top track and field athletes who have qualified for Nationals, as they will travel to Berea, OH, for the three-day NCAA D-III Championships. With the meet less than a week away, the select Maroons who will be competing are getting ready, with a mix of excitement and trepidation.

“I’m really excited for the national meet,” third-year Liz Lawton, who will be competing in the five-kilometer run, said. “I want to win a national title. That’s been a dream of mine, and I have to go into this meet hoping for the absolute best.”

But, of course, you have to make dreams come true, and Lawton is putting in the hard work to swing things her way. “I’ve literally trained the hardest that I possibly could over the past nine months, even when I was injured during cross country,” she added.

The hard work has been paying off for Lawton, as she has the fastest time in the entire division (16:41.16), and the UAA named her Women’s Outdoor Track Athlete of the Week last week. While encouraged by these accomplishments, Lawton acknowledges that “The competition is tough. The field is extremely fast, and a lot of girls have posted great times. The competition is the best in the country, and that’s how it should be. But if the race were easy, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.”

Fourth-year shot-putter Nicole Murphy also anticipates the obstacles Nationals will bring, but unlike Lawton, history seems to be her greatest foe: “Two years ago at this meet I finished in second place, and I’ve been trying to improve on that performance ever since, but this season hasn’t been my best, so I’m not as confident going into the meet as I would like to be.”

Throwing distant and recent history to the wind, however, Murphy would like to win the shot put event or, at least, get a new personal record. “I know I have the potential to achieve my goals,” she said. “It’s just a matter of being consistent and able to call upon that potential at the right time.”

Another important aspect of nationals is that, for fourth-years like Murphy and thrower Claire Ray, this is the last athletic event of their college careers.

“I’m really hoping our team can trophy in outdoor just like we did indoor,” Ray said. “But most importantly, I just want to go out with a bang.”

Other Maroons advancing to the NCAAs include third-year Drew Jackson, who was just named the UAA Men’s Field Athlete of the Week and will be competing in the triple jump, an event in which he has the second-best mark in the division (48 feet 8.75 inches). Third-years Jacob Solus and Dipti Karmarkar both met provisional qualifying standards for the triple jump, and still hope to hear that they too will have the chance to compete.

Third-year runners Stephanie Omueti and second-year Jane Simpson have also provisionally qualified to compete in the 200-meter dash and 10-kilometer run, respectively.

Those Maroons left are staying motivated for their last week of training as they look forward to traveling to Ohio next week for the national competition.