Clardy Earns MVP as Track Stars Shine

James Blankenship and Joanna Johnson

As the final leg of the Yeowomens’ 4×400-meter relay team sprinted around the first turn of Oberlin’s indoor track on Saturday night, its members were met with wild claps, stomps and chants of “Go OC, Go OC, Go!” Fans dashed across the infield to watch the final stretch as sophomore Marissa Clardy flew past her competitor, crossing the finish line in first place to meet her teammates (sophomore Sybil Levine, senior Laura Vernon and senior Amanda Miller) in a new championship record time of 4:4.43.

This was just one of many school and conference records broken at the North Coast Athletic Conference Indoor Track Championships hosted by Oberlin last weekend. Vernon kicked off the trend on Friday, setting a school and conference record in the pole vault by recording a height of 3.39 meters. Later that evening, Clardy set a school record in the 400 meter dash preliminaries which she improved upon the following day with a time of 58.58, fast enough to win the event for a second straight year. Her time provisionally qualified her for the National Championship meet and ranked her 35th nationally in Division III. Clardy’s performance at the meet also earned her recognition as the NCAC Sprints/Hurdles MVP.

Senior Courtney Konow carried the winning trend over to Saturday morning, setting a school record in the weight throw of 10.7 meters. The women’s 4×200 meter relay team, which featured Clardy, Miller, first-year Sophia Brancazio and junior Melissa Elie,won the event for a third straight year with a school record time of 1:46.34. Senior Joanna Johnson followed her example

In the 3000 meter run, breaking her previous school record by seven seconds by crossing the line with a time of 10:04.56. On the men’s end, junior Stephen Williams also set a school record in the same event, finishing at 8:41.08. Senior Josh Gallagher put in a strong performance in the shot put, placing second with a throw of 14.92 meters. Sophomore Alex Guo also grabbed a second-place finish with a 13.54-meter effort in the triple-jump. The men’s 4×400 relay team of blazing junior Shawn Chrapczynski, first-year Quinn Hull, senior Peter Morris and junior Reshard El-Shair brought the event to a close with a third-place finish.

The impressive performances last weekend came as a result of intense in and out-of-season preparation. Several team members, including captains Gallagher and Miller, have been training for the season since the summer, which Miller thinks is “great for lifting.” She continued, “You can kill your body without having to worry about being rested for competition.”

The real preparation for the season begins at the end of August, when athletes start training together and can, as Gallagher said, “make the most of the training partners and coaches.” Training includes tests to measure fitness, intra-team competitions to prepare and keep up excitement for future competitions, and even cross-training with other sports like basketball and soccer. Several of the distance runners complete a season of cross-country in the fall before transitioning right into the indoor and outdoor track seasons.

The months of training have clearly paid off. In addition to records set at the championship meet, eleven school records have been broken this season. “It was a joy to see all the hard work pay off for our students athletes this past weekend,” said associate head coach Jason Hudson. “Having the championship meet at home made it even more special for our seniors.” Heading into the outdoor track season, Miller has clear goals in mind. “I want to make it to Nationals in the 4×400 relay,” she said.

Gallagher, who enjoys track for “the way it is measured in absolutes, time, distance, and height, [meaning] you only get out what you put in,” says his goal for outdoor is simply “to compete.” With all the effort that he and his teammates have put into training thus far, there should be many more record-breaking performances in both the men’s and women’s teams in the future.