Track and Field Builds on Indoor Season’s Momentum
Both track and field teams honored their seniors in an emotional ceremony last Saturday as they took to their home turf in the annual Bob Kahn Invitational. Though the events were moved back in the day because of rain, the Senior Day festivities stayed on schedule, providing the participants a rare opportunity to celebrate their seniors as a team instead of splitting up at various events.
“It’s the first time since I’ve been here that the entire team was there supporting, and I think for a lot of us it was very special to be there in support and not have to be doing other things,” said James Tanford, junior jumper and sprinter. “I know that made it really fun for the seniors. It was pretty amazing.”
After the celebration, both teams came out hot, racking up a total of 16 first-place finishes. The women’s team maintained its dominance with a first-place overall finish with 363 points in the five-team meet, while the men’s squad brought in 163 points, landing them in third among the four-team field. Head Track and Field Coach Ray Appenheimer said he has been thrilled with the contributions the senior class has made.
“It was a beautiful day to honor our seniors and have our track and field team get to compete in front of their families, friends and professors,” Appenheimer said. “I am proud of all of them. They have made this team better, made the people around them better and in so many ways contributed to the community at Oberlin.”
The Yeowomen throwers swept the competition as junior Ana Richardson took two first-place wins in both the hammer and discus events while first-year Naeisha McClain bested the competition in shot put with two first-place wins as well. With her performance highlighted by a top distance of 45 feet, 11 1/4 inches, 14.00 meters, in the shot put to move her into second place nationally, McClain was named the NCAC Field Athlete of the Week.
On the track, the Yeowomen continually outran the competition and defended their No. 15 national ranking. The sophomores reigned supreme in the shorter-distance events as Imani Cook-Gist claimed a victory in the 100-meter dash, clocking in at 12.90 seconds, and Ify Ezimora won the 400 meter with a time of 1 minute, 3.3 seconds. In addition, junior Lilah Drafts-Johnson eased through the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 1:01:90, landing her in first-place and fourth in the nation for the event.
In the distance events, the team remained dominant with first-year Shannon Wargo front and center in the 1,500 meter, checking in at 4:48.16 and checking off another first-place trophy. Wargo also claimed a first-place win in the 800-meter with a time of 2:24.04 as teammate sophomore Abigail Bellows won the 5,000-meter run with a time of 18:56.79.
For the field events, junior Annie Goodridge triumphed in the triple jump with a mark of 35–8. Senior Ave Spencer nailed the pole vault with a height of 11–5 3/4. Spencer said she has been pleased with the efforts the team has put forth in advance of the conference meet.
“We have tons of talented people in every one of the groups from sprinting to throwing to jumping to long distance — we have a lot of good people, and it’s a really good place to be in before conference,” Spencer said.
On the men’s side, Tanford led the way for the Yeomen with a triple jump win at 42–3 1/2. Competing in an unusually wide variety of events, Tanford was able to secure a second place victory in the 400-meter at 50.73, a third-place finish in the 200-meter, at 22.90 seconds, and a fourth-place finish in the long jump with 20–3, marking his fourth top-five finish of the meet.
Senior Hannon Ayer scored a second victory for the Yeomen, finishing the 1,500-meter run in 4:11.89 for first place, while senior E.J. Douglass won the 5,000-meter with a time of 15:46.32. In the field, sophomore Daniel Mukasa excelled, topping off the Yeomen’s four wins with a pole vault victory at 12–11 1/2.
With seven meets remaining in the regular season schedule, both teams are looking forward to the conference championships, which take place in Greencastle, IN, on May 5–6.
“We’re looking to follow up the indoor season and win our first outdoor conference championships on the women’s end,” Appenhiemer said. “With the addition of the hammer throw and steeplechase outdoors, the men should improve upon their finish indoors and move into the top half of the conference.”
Tomorrow, both teams will face off in the All-Ohio Championships at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, at 10 a.m.