With the 2010 outdoor track season starting at the Ithaca Invitational on March 27 at Butterfield Stadium, the women’s track and field team begins a new season, with one goal in mind: send as many athletes as possible to the NCAA Championships later this season.
Making the transition from the indoor, 200-meter track to the 400-meter outdoor oval, the South Hill squad now has to regroup and build off of what it accomplished during the winter season — three team championships and three athletes sent to the national championship meet.
One of the Bombers’ top goals this season is to send as many athletes as they can to the NCAA Championships, which will be held at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, in late May. In order to do so, the athletes need to hit the tough NCAA provisional or automatic-qualifying standards. But what makes it even more challenging is that the South Hill squad has only eight meets to get beyond these qualifying marks.
“With how we have been working, I know we are capable of … having more national qualifiers this season,” junior Kristen DeStefano said.
DeStefano is a strong candidate for qualifying in the pole vault and hurdles.
At the Ithaca Invitational, three standards were hit despite less than prime weather conditions — cold temperatures with a consistent gusty wind.
Junior Kate Leugers ran under the provisional standard for the 10,000-meter run, which is 37:30. She ran a personal best of 37:25.98, which gives her a little relief as she’s looking to meet the standard early in the season.
“It was more of a pleasant surprise than a relief to get the NCAA provisional time,” Leugers said.
Leugers, who holds the Ithaca College record for the indoor mile, narrowly missed a trip to nationals during the indoor season by just 0.2 seconds as part of the distance medley relay team, but she said she is motivated to make it back to nationals after making an appearance there her freshman year.
“I am going to try a couple of events out and see which ones I have the best chance at with respect to NCAAs,” she said. “I’ll definitely be gunning for qualifying in the 1,500-meter.”
Junior Marcia McCord, who went to the national championships during the indoor season, also qualified at the Ithaca Invitational. McCord ran a provisional time of 25.18 in the 200-meter, an event in which she competed at nationals last year. She also provisionally qualified in the 100-meter dash this past weekend at the Road Runner Invitational at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. McCord’s time of 12.01 is a new school record in the event.
McCord has made it to nationals in all of her five previous opportunities. Coming off a slightly disappointing finish at the indoor national championships this year, McCord is primed to return and race at her peak level.
“I’m setting the bar high for the team and myself this season,” McCord said. “I shook [nationals] off. So now, I’m back and ready to work.”
Though she makes it look easy, McCord and the rest of the South Hill squad work extremely hard to get to the level where they are ready to earn the NCAA standard. Whether it is putting in the time in the weight room, doing form drills prior to or after workouts or attending the teamwide sports psychology sessions, the Bombers are doing whatever it takes to earn that trip to Berea.
“We are a postseason team, and we peak [then],” graduate student Lauren Koppel said. “So these are where some of the best performances are starting.”