Track and Field races into Birmingham Looking to take Trophies at NCAAs

By JORDAN HOWELL

On Saturday, March 4, some members of the track and field team headed down I-89 South toward Boston to participate in the Tufts Last Chance Meet for what was another non-scoring event mostly against other Division III competition. There were four notable performances by Middlebury athletes at this meet.

The first notable performer was Anna Willig ’20, who clocked a time of 2:30.51 in the 800-meter run, which was good for 10th place. Kreager Taber ’19 was also impressive in the pole vault event. She vaulted 33.31 meters, which qualified her for seventh place.

Jon Perlman ’19 had a nice performance in the mile run, finishing with a time of 4:15.26, good enough to capture third place. John Natalone ’19 did well in the pole vault event with a vault of 34.36 meters, netting him fifth place.

Even though Natalone was not able to qualify for the championship meet, he gave high praise to his team:

“The team’s outlook is great heading into nationals,” Natalone said. “Jimmy Martinez ’19 is ranked second in the nation for the men’s 400, and Kate McCluskey ’18 is ranked sixth for the women’s 400. We’re all excited to watch them race for that national title.”

Many members of the team also had high praise for the distance medley relay teams. Natalone added, “We’re also sending distance medley relay teams on both the men’s and women’s side[s], both with the ability to place really well. It’ll be a fun meet to watch!”

Talia Ruxin ’20, who had an excellent, fifth-place showing in the 5,000 meters two weeks ago at the Boston University Last Chance Meet, is optimistic about the team’s prospects going forward.

“The team is optimistic heading into nationals,” Ruxin said. Because both the men’s and women’s distance medley relay teams have the second-best times recorded in DIII so far this season — which they recorded two weeks ago at the Boston University Last Chance Meet — Ruxin said the team looks forward to seeing if they can raise the bar even higher going forward.

“The team is really excited to see what we can do,” Ruxin said.

Abigail Nadler ’19, who is one of the four runners on the Panthers’ top distance medley relay team, talked about how much they are looking forward to the opportunity at NCAAs.

“The team and I are super excited for NCAAs,” said Nadler excitedly. “For the distance medley relay, our goal all season was to be one [of] the top teams in Division III and have fun while doing it. We all bring different experiences and strengths, but we all want to end up on the podium on Friday night.”

Nadler further emphasized the routine that the medley team will be following this week and the skill that the team brings.

“This week we want to stay as relaxed as possible and pop a really good race,” Nadler said. “We have a really strong relay across the 1200, 800, 400 and 1600, so if we each can deliver a strong race we know we will achieve our goal.”

As the NCAA Championships get closer, the men and women’s track and field teams continue to prepare. Both the men and the women will be competing in the two-day NCAA Championships tomorrow and Saturday, March 10, in Birmingham, Alabama. Given how the team has progressed over the course of the season, they have a good chance to make the most of their opportunity.

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Track and Field races into Birmingham Looking to take Trophies at NCAAs