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MIT Women’s Track Breaks Records in Relays and Long Jump

By Martha Buckley

TEAM MEMBER

At the All New England Championships last Friday and Saturday at Boston University, the MIT women’s team entered in all three relays that were contested: the distance medley relay, the 4x800 meters, and the 4x400. Smashing the institute records in the distance medley and 4x800 and running a season’s best in the 4x400, the MIT women certainly strove to be all they could be.

Inspired by the cheering of members of the MIT women’s team, who painted “Go Tech” on their stomachs, the Distance Medley -- Julia C. Espel ’05, Chidinma C. Obi ’05, Andrea Staid ’07, and Martha W. Buckley ’04 -- clocked a 12:21.99, smashing the old institute record in the event by over ten seconds. The MIT women qualified to compete in the ECAC’s by over 20 seconds but narrowly missed the national provisional qualifying standard of 12:20.

The MIT women’s 4x400 team of Christine Fanchiang ’07, Brita Mittal ’07, Rachel M. Niehuus, and Chidinma C. Obi ’05 continued MIT’s strong performances, clocking a season’s best of 4:16.48.

Coming into the 4x800, the MIT women’s team of Staid, Alisa P. Lehman ’05, Elizabeth R. Walker ’06, and Buckley had their eyes set on the varsity record of 9:56.42. Although two of the team members had not yet run sub-2:30 in the 800, the MIT women hoped to average a few seconds under 2:30 pace to break the MIT record with the help of freshman phenom Staid, who holds the institute record in the 800 (2:24). However, the MIT women surpassed everyone’s expectations, clocking a 9:46.88, dropping that institute record by almost ten seconds as well. Both Staid and Buckley’s splits were under 2:25, which is quite amazing considering that no one in the history of the MIT women’s indoor team had run sub-2:25 in the 800 until this season. Lehman dipped below 2:30 for the first time in her running career to run a 2:27 split and Walker ran a solid 2:31.

MIT’s individual events were characterized by record-breaking performances as well. Institute records in both the horizontal jumps were broken. Nalini Gupta ’03 leaped 17' 3 1/4'' to surpass the MIT record in the long jump by a quarter inch and placed 8th in stiff competition. With a jump of 36' 7 3/4'' Chinwe P. Nyenke ’04 smashed the school record in the triple jump by almost three inches. Nyenke’s jump qualifies her provisionally for nationals for the first time in her track career. In the pole vault, Catherine A. Tweedie ’04 jumped a personal best of 11' 9 3/4'' and placed fifth. Tweedie’s ability to consistently vault in the high 11’s gives her a solid shot at All-American at nationals, which will be held in Wisconsin in two weeks.

This Friday and Saturday, a small contingent of the MIT women’s team will be traveling to Bowdoin to compete in the ECAC’s. At the ECAC’s the MIT women will make final efforts to qualify for nationals. Currently four members of the MIT women’s team are qualified provisionally for nationals. Tweedie’s height of 11'9'' currently ranks her sixth for pole vault in Division III. Buckley’s time of 17:35.99 in the 5000 currently puts her in the top ten on the nationals list. Adrienne M. Irmer ’04 and Nyenke are currently ranked in the weight throw and triple jump, respectively, and hope to improve on their marks at the ECAC’s.