Preview of Oberlin Track and Field’s Upcoming Season


Courtesy of Go Yeo

Fourth-year Clare Tiedemann competes during the spring 2021 season.

On Dec. 4, the indoor track and field team will compete against Case Western Reserve University in its first meet of the season. After finishing in fifth place in the North Coast Athletic Conference cross country standings, the team looks to keep its upward momentum and reaffirm past successes as the track and field season approaches.

The Yeowomen have historically been a powerhouse, having earned three NCAC titles in both indoor and outdoor track and field during the 2016–17, 2017–18, and 2018–19 seasons. But with the team’s season put on pause due to COVID-19, only the fourth-years on the team have experienced an NCAC championship. 

Director of Track and Field Ray Appenheimer spoke about the impact of fourth-years on the future of the program that once dominated the conference. 

“I think our seniors do a great job of not only conveying the habits and mindset it takes to win on and off the track but living it every day as well,” he wrote in an email to the Review. “They are amazing examples to the younger members of the team of what being successful on the track, in the classroom, and throughout their lives at Oberlin can look like.”

Fourth-year Phoebe von Conta, one of the team members who was a part of the successes of the 2018–19 season, was recently awarded Second Team All-Conference Honors this past cross country season. 

“Coming into this next season, I’m excited to see our team continue that legacy of strong competition and hard work,” she wrote in an email to the Review. “[The energy of past champions] carries through us, and I can’t wait to see what we do with it. I’m looking forward to the opportunities to share that with the younger generations of the team.”

Although the track program has experienced losses in power houses such as Adriano Atallah, OC ’21, who was an All-Region select during their fourth-year spring semester in 2021, the program has a bright future ahead with successful younger members of the team. Five first-year athletes from both the men’s and women’s teams competed this past cross country season in the conference championship, and two in regionals. 

“We’re going to be leaning heavily on our younger team members, folks who have never had a proper collegiate season,” Appenheimer wrote. “It was awesome to see these people rise to the challenge in cross country. There really seems to be an appetite for challenges with our first- and second-years. They have bought into who we are and what we are trying to accomplish so quickly, and seeing how they push, challenge, and support our upper class folks, makes me really excited for what’s to come.”

The first- and second-year classes bring a fresh perspective, with a tenacity to win at the next level. Second-year Eliza Medearis looks to her first track season with hope and drive, fueled by the support of her teammates.

“This team has pretty big shoes to fill, but I think everyone is hungry to compete after so long,” Medearis wrote. “There’s so much positive energy on the team that I’m sure we’ll be able to secure a conference championship.”

Medearis had a strong cross country season, ending with a top-50 finish in the conference championship and a top-100 finish in regionals, and will be competing with the distance squad in track.

Among the program’s exciting new faces is Coach Rocco Mitolo, who is replacing John Hepp as the throwing coach. He brings with him a fresh mentality and excellent resume, which includes coaching a national champion in the women’s hammer throw, three NCAA All-Americans, and 18 University Athletic Association champions in his six-year tenure. Coach Appenheimer is optimistic about this new addition to the coaching staff, knowing Mitolo not only brings a winning attitude, but a persistent mentality.

“Rocco has been amazing,” he wrote. “I was lucky to see Rocco coach and mentor a national champion when he was at Case Western. This was an athlete who was coming back from a serious injury. The skill, patience, and determination Rocco demonstrated at Case Western was a perfect match for our program and he is doing a fantastic job with our throwers.”

With a new member of the coaching staff and huge influences from the first-years, Oberlin track and field looks excitedly toward its first meet of the season set to take place this Saturday.