January 6, 2006

Women’s track aims to be NCAA caliber

With a lineup boasting strong veterans and extremely promising rookies in every event, the women will open the 2005 indoor track season with an exceptionally balanced team.

“This year’s group has shown really big strengths and no weaknesses,” head coach Chris Hall said.

The women expect to repeat last year’s Distance Medley and 4×400-meter relay successes despite losing vital members of each team. The gap left by Emily Kay on the Distance Medley will be filled by first-year Allie Barner, while an impressive crop of newcomers are expected to not only fill Stephanie St. Claire’s shoes but to bolster the relay just in time for the outdoor season.

The women are also hoping to build a strong foundation with the 4×100-meter relay, an event the Maroons could dominate in spring by combining first-year talent with exceptional veterans such as last year’s first-year stand-out Nofi Mojidi who starts for women’s basketball in the winter months.

“I think that with the amount of talent our first-years have already shown and the experience they’ll gain during the indoor season, by the time the outdoor season rolls around and Mojidi joins us, we should be even better than we were last year,” Hall said. “Lack of experience can be a problem, but coaching a group of talented athletes at the very beginning of their careers is always a lot of fun for coaches.”

Along with presenting the opportunity to develop the freshmen talent, the indoor track season also serves as a time for athletes to get to know each other and foster team unity. Track practices, with runners, jumpers, vaulters, and throwers training in smaller groups for 18 different events, don’t provide many opportunities for group bonding.

“Since practices tend to resemble three-ring circuses more than anything else, the only time to really unite the team is during competition when everyone can really bond and cheer each other on,” Hall said.

The women’s first chance to bond is on Saturday when the Maroons host the Chicago Opener. Since the meet is small and the women are performing well in practice, they are the favorites to take first place overall.

“Since it is our first meet, we are going to have a lot of surprises,” Hall said. “Some people are really going to step out and show us that they intend to have a really great season.”

Spotlight on: The Jumpers