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Women's Track Ends Season with Strong Show at NEW-8

By Lila French
Team Member

The women's track team ended their regular season with a strong third place finish at the New England Women's Eight Championships held at MIT on Saturday. The Engineers scored 109 points, while competing teams Wheaton College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute scored 215, 144, 89, and 35 points, respectively.

The meet began with numerous outstanding performances in the field events. Co-Captain Elaine Chen '99 took fourth place in both the long and the high jumps, with leaps of 15'6.75" and 4'10", respectively. Chen's effort in the long jump qualified her for the New England Division III Championship, making this the fifth event in which she has qualified. In the exhibition pole vault event, Lila French '99, won with a vault of 8'6".

The throwing events proved to be a source of strength for the Engineers. In the hammer throw, Jennifer Elizondo '99 threw an excellent 108'4", earning her a fifth place finish, while Rena Nassr '01 finished seventh with a personal best of 86'.25". Nassr also performed brilliantly in the javelin throw, finishing second with a season best of 92'9.25". Crystal Harris '00 also scored in the javelin, taking sixth place with a throw of 85'09.75". She also took third in the discus, where she launched the disc 107'01". Joy Gathers '00 set a personal record in the discus with a throw of 71 feet.

With an excellent start in the jumps and throws, the Engineers took to the track, looking to gain more ground on their opponents. In the hurdles, Alyssa Thorvaldsen '00, showed her versatility as a runner, placing first in both the 100 meter high hurdles and the 400 meter intermediate hurdles. In the high hurdles, Thorvaldsen placed third with a time of 17.19 seconds, while in the intermediate hurdles, she placed fifth with a personal best of 1:10.15. French also scored for the Engineers in the high hurdles, taking sixth place with a time of 18.88 seconds.

In the sprints, Chen and Natalie Smith '00 came through for the Engineers, each running season bests. Chen tied her personal record of 26.98 seconds in the 200 meters, taking fourth place. Smith bolted through the 400 meter finish in a time of 62.93 seconds, taking fifth place. While Chen had already qualified for Division III's in all of the sprints, this was Smith's last opportunity to qualify in the 400. She did so by running one second faster than the necessary time.

The excitement really began when the middle and long distance runners competed. MIT placed well in every distance from the 800 to the 5000. In the 5000 meters, Co-Captain Janis Eisenberg '98 ran a season best of 19:34.46, earning her second place. Jan Ting '00 placed fourth with a personal best time of 20:11.66. Ting's performance qualified her to run in the Division III's.

MIT won first, second and fourth in the 3000 meters. Debbie Won '00 had an easy victory in a time of 10:48.92, while Eisenberg and Margaret Nervegna '01 beat out their competition later in the race. Eisenberg, tied for second with 100 meters to go, was able to out-kick her competition from Smith, finishing in 11:23.10. Nervegna won the battle for fourth place with a time of 11:48.72.

Unfortunately, the 1500 meter run wasn't as easy for distance powerhouse Won. Won finished second behind a Smith runner with a personal best time of 4:55.34. Personal bests were also set in the 1500 by Tanya Zelevinsky '99 and Ner-vegna. Despite a foot injury, Zelevinsky finished sixth in 5:22.95, with Nervegna not far behind in seventh at 5:24.48.

Perhaps the best performances of the day were seen in the 800 meter run. Leah Nichols '00 set the pace, taking the head of the pack through the 200 meter mark in 31 seconds. This quick start led to a personal best race for Nichols as she clocked an amazing 2:23.04. Not only did this performance qualify Nichols for Division III's and ECAC's, it also broke the school record set by Won a week earlier.

Robin Evans '99 also ran a spectacular race in the 800 meters. She placed fifth with a season best of 2:29.26, but missed qualifying for Division III's by a heartbreaking two one-hundredths of a second.

The Engineers finished the meet by placing first and third in the 4x800 and 4x400 meter relays. Christina Wilbert '01, followed by top performers Nichols, Won, and Evans led the team to a victory and school record time of 10:08.73 in the 4x800. Top 400 runners Chen, Stephanie Hong '98, Smith, and Thorvaldsen sped through the 4x400 in 4:20.74 against tough competition from Smith and Mt. Holyoke.

This Saturday, the Engineers will compete in the New England Division III Championship held at Connecticut College. Being represented in all but two events, this will be the strongest showing in the Engineers history.