Williamstown, MA -- Nine Williams women will compete this weekend in the NCAA Division III Indoor Championships, hosted by DePauw University in Greencastle, IN. With all entrants ranked in the top ten of their events and three ranked within the top five, the Ephs hope to have a strong presence at the meet.
Assistant coach Mitchell Baker said, “We have a mixture of returning NCAA athletes and newcomers giving us both focus and an excitement that creates a good team atmosphere heading to Indiana.”
Explaining the scoring process at NCAAs, coach Baker noted, “The individual athletes must compete to qualify from a preliminary round to a final round. If they do qualify, they put themselves in position to score points for the team and earn All-American accolades by finishing in the top eight competitors.”
Senior co-captain Elise Johnson, already an All-American, will look to brandish a title for the indoor season as she competes in the 55m hurdles. Johnson enters the meet ranked third nationally with a seed time of 8.23.
Coach Baker said of Johnson, “She looks to be sharpening at the right time, giving her a great chance to move along to the final round. She has excelled in the longer, outdoor distance of the 100-meter hurdles in years past; this winter she has broken through to sit third on both the yearly NCAA list and the Williams All-Time Top-10.”
Hillary Higgs ’12 has been a force in the 200m and 400m races throughout the season, and her personal best of 57.10 in the 400 at the Division III New England Championship earned her entry into the NCAA Championship. She is currently ranked sixth in the event, although she has beaten the number-one seed, Portia Jones of MIT, in every match-up. With this track record, Higgs will no doubt enter the competition with victory in mind.
Two first years will represent the Ephs in the jumps. Tanasia Hoffler ’13 is seeded second in the triple jump, having jumped 11.86m at the Division III ECAC Championship this past weekend. Julie Paschal ’13 will compete in the high jump, where she is currently ranked fifth.
Both the 4x400m relay and the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) teams secured entry to nationals. The seventh-ranked 4x400m team is composed of Higgs, Rebecca Fine ’13, and senior co-captains Nora Mitchell and Johnson. The DMR will include Mitchell, Lizzy Danhakl ’11, Olga Kondratjeva ’10, and Ariel Williams ’10.
Coach Baker noted the outlook for the 4x400m relay team, explaining that “They contest an unusual event at the NCAA in that there are no preliminary rounds but a three-heat final. This means our ladies will have to run against the competition but also the clock so that their final time can stack up well against the other two sections. Obviously, if they can place at or near the top of their section they have a great chance to score points and earn All-American recognition.”
As for the DMR, which is currently ranked tenth of 11 teams, coach Baker noted, “Although they are not seeded in the top eight teams by time, the nature of the relay gives the women confidence that they can be in the mix.”
Coach Baker went on to explain the overall team outlook for the meet: “The name of the game is to equal your qualifying marks and you, or your relay, will probably reach All-American status and score points. This allows us to go in to DePauw University attempting to do what we did in the regular season rather than press for something Herculean.”
“We certainly have a good chance at placing in the top-ten as a team based on our qualifiers, but much work has to be done to make that happen. If we qualified athletes to final rounds and we maximized our points, we could pressure for a top-five finish.”
Demonstrating constant improvement throughout the indoor season, the Ephs competing in the NCAA Championships will enter this weekend’s contests looking to maintain the successes of the regular season. The first group of athletes traveling to Indiana will depart on Wednesday.