Indoor track kicks off season in Boston

The Amherst teams featured abbreviated rosters as some key members of both squads sat the weekend out to continue preparing for January’s meets, or to rest their legs now that the cross country season has come to a close. To those who did compete, however, this meet was as meaningful and valuable as any other.

Men’s Track

The Husky provided an opportunity to fine-tune and regain a competitive mindset. “It was good to get a feel for racing this early in the season,” said Jon Ettinger ’07. “I feel like I’m already starting to come into mid-season shape, which bodes well for the rest of the season.” Although Ettinger won his heat in the 500-meter run and finished 18th in the crowded overall standings (best among Amherst men), he recognized the value of working off early-season rust. “I won my heat but I still felt a little hesitant racing out there,” he said.

Also returning to compete for the men were Tim Porter ’06, who placed 22nd in the 500-meter dash, Sam Hayman ’07, who placed 26th in the 800-meter run, Geoff Stricsek ’07 who finished 42nd in the 400-meter dash and Doug Norton ’05 a member of the 4×400-meter relay team.

Representing the class of 2008 for the men were Rom Cabeza and Ben Read, who took 22nd (2:03.14) and 41st (2:13.36), respectively in the 800-meter run. Cabeza, who also helped the men’s 4×400 relay team to its 18th-place finish, observed a higher level of intensity in a college meet.

“Stepping to the line was the same as always, but the competitiveness of the race was very much different, because from start to finish people were racing to win,” he said. “Intensity like that was something I would experience only at championship meets in high school.”

Women’s Track

Senior co-captain Carter Hamill was one woman who made the trip to Boston, despite coming off a long cross country season, kicking off the final indoor track season of her accomplished career. Hamill again smoked the competition in the 5000-meter run, over 35 seconds in front of the closest opponent. Her time was impressive enough to automatically qualify her for Nationals, where she will attempt to acquire a third indoor national title in the 5000 for her mantelpiece that also includes three outdoor 10,000-meter national titles and a whopping 14 All-America awards.

Hamill exceeded her own high expectations. “The meet came with weird timing for me. I wasn’t expecting to feel as strong as I did, because I was basically holding on to the taper from [cross country] Nationals and training an extra two weeks,” she said. “But once we were off the line, I felt confident.”

Other returning runners who competed include Lyndsey Scott ’06, who placed 14th in the 400-meter dash and 44th in the 200-meter dash, Hanna Campbell ’07, who finished 19th in the 55-meter dash preliminaries and 39th in the 200-meter dash, and Julia Rucker ’06, who placed 80th in the 200-meter dash. Scott, Campbell and Rucker also joined first-year Ellie Tarlow to take 19th in the 4×400-meter relay.

The meet also provided first-year women with the opportunity to experience college-level competition for the first time in a more relaxed setting than the upcoming meets.

“It was low-key, as first meets often are,” said first-year distance runner Sophie Turrell. Turrell, a converted pole-vaulter, impressed teammates with a strong performance in the 800-meter, finishing 18th in the overall standings.

Tarlow showcased valuable versatility, competing in the 55- and the 200-meter dashes in addition to running a leg of the 4×400 relay.

The Jeff indoor track teams will next compete at the Wesleyan Invitational on Jan. 15. Until then, the team will continue its grueling winter training regiment and compete throughout Interterm. The schedule will continue with weekly meets-all of them on the road-through the first weeks of March.