The Springfield College men’s and women’s track teams have enjoyed early success in their indoor season. For the men, it has been all about overcoming some key early injuries.
“In our first meet, we came in third out of five with some key injuries, otherwise we would have been much more competitive,” men’s track and field head coach, Ken Klatka, said.
The third-place finish at their first meet on Dec. 1 did not surprise Klatka, who was not disappointed with the team’s performance.
A few standouts in the opening week for the Pride were junior John Dayton and sophomore Mason Durant. Dayton competed in the 35-pound weight throw, and recorded a personal best with a 57-feet-1.5-inches toss. Klatka praised Dayton, saying he will be a contender to qualify for NCAAs this winter.
Durant also had a personal best, winning the shot put with a 48-foot toss. Klatka went on to add that many of the jumpers and runners performed extremely well at the meet.
On Saturday, Dec. 8, the men’s team competed at the Harvard Open and went up against some very tough competition. Dayton set a personal best in the weight toss again, finishing third behind two Division I athletes.
Springfield College junior, Orlando Harvey, also excelled over the weekend, qualifying for the New England, All New England, and ECAC Championships. Harvey qualified with a shot put throw of 48-feet-2.75-inches.
Klatka thought the team came out a little flat on Saturday, but addressed how many athletes they were competing against.
“There were at least 1,500 athletes at the meet comprised of Division I, II, III, club teams and open athletes,” Klatka said.
A few other standouts from the meet at Harvard were freshman Sam Baker in the high jump, senior Anthony Salvucci, junior Erich Voelker in the 3,000 meters, and senior Sean Nunan in the 500 meters.
The women’s team started the season very strong, finishing first in the team’s opening meet of the winter season on Dec. 1, which was a five-way scoring meet.
Head coach Jim Pennington, who also coaches Springfield women’s cross country, accredited the team’s great start to a solid group of new student-athletes and strong leadership from the upperclassmen.
“We were very strong in the relays, particularly in the 4X200 meter relay in the first meet, where the women ran a time that was faster than what they started off with at last season’s opener,” Pennington said.
Running the 2X400 for the Pride were seniors Crystal Davis and Laurie Jenkins, junior Gabby Gaudreault and freshman Darien Dailey.
Also performing well in the Pride’s opening meet were freshmen jumpers Erin Womboldt, Jess Miller, Dailey and sophomore Brianna Hill, who all scored in the triple jump and long jump. Gaudreault won the 800 meters with a time of 2:17.65.
The throwers also had a good first meet led by senior Colleen Brague, who won the 20-pound weight throw with a toss of 42-feet-5.5-inches.
Senior Rhian Duggan matched her career high in the pole vault with a 10-foot-10-inch jump, and qualified for all of the championships during the season. Pennington was very pleased with his team’s effort.
“It was an overall excellent start for our first home meet,” Pennington stated.
For the women, the Harvard Invitational took 12 hours to complete, with 30 teams participating. As a result of the large numbers, this was a non-scoring meet.
“This meet we focused on individual performances and relays to get our season-best times in before we left for winter break,” Pennington said.
They did just that.
Pennington was very excited about the way the team performed, saying how outstanding the meet was for them considering the level of competition.
In only her second season running the 800 meters, Gaudreault hopes to make the indoor nationals, held in March at North Central College in Naperville, Ill. Gaudreault again won the 800 meters, this time with a national Division III leading time of 2:15.31. Gaudreault also was a leader on the Springfield women’s cross country team in the fall.
She was also a part of the third-place 4×400 meter relay team with a time of 4:02.61. Also running in the relay for Springfield were Davis, Jenkins and junior Jennifer Kapinos.
Kapinos also ran in the 600 meters, where she improved upon her time from the first meet by two seconds (1:42.46). Close behind Kapinos in the 600 was freshman Sam Pomroy, who along with Kapinos, qualified for all championships later in the season. All of the 800 meter runners also accomplished their goal of running good times or personal bests, according to Pennington.
Sophomore Amanda Martin, who led the jumpers in the opening meet, also made the national Division III list with the long jump and triple jump. Womboldt, Miller, Dailey and freshman Ashley Kirkland all performed well.
“The surprise of the meet was freshman 400 runner, Kim Winkle, who ran her first collegiate 400 meter on the mile relay, and had one of the fastest times of the eight runners,” Pennington said.
Pennington was very excited about his team’s performance.
“It was a long meet, but the women held it together well, were focused, and wanted to do well, and they did,” Pennington said. “The outlook is outstanding.
“For NCAA Indoor Nationals, we hope to qualify a 4X400 team, an 800 meter runner, a 400 meter runner, a long/triple jumper, and a thrower in the 20-pound weight throw. Another goal we have is to finish in the top three to five teams, out of more than 40 Division III programs in the New England region again this year.”
The Springfield College track and field teams will look to continue to improve over the break. The men’s and women’s teams will return to action on Saturday, Jan. 19 at Bowdoin.