It was a long hiatus for the Fitchburg Women’s Track team, but this season, they have more than just a long conditioning period to help them; a larger number of girls are on this years roster, bringing the team head count from 15 to over 20 girls.
“It’s been a typical long, cold, New England winter,” said Jamie Aubuchon, head coach of the women’s team. “Without a dedicated indoor facility, we are then limited to what we can do for training, so I’m looking forward to finding out where people are in their training.”
At the first outdoor track meet on March 22 at Bridgewater State, 10k athletes Libby Ward and Jessica Mangan met with frigid temperatures, but luckily there was no wind to hinder their stride. Both sophomore women finished the race with MASCAC qualifying times: Ward with 43:40 minutes, a personal record from last year’s championship time of 43:46, and Mangan coming in at 48:06.
While the 10k took place on the track, newcomers Angel Picucci and Shaunna Lizek, both sophomores, competed in their first collegiate long jump event. Lizek finished with a 3.78 meter jump followed by returning third year athlete Ebony Schumerman with a 3.76 meter jump, and Picucci with a 3.68 meter jump, putting each within range of qualifying for the league meet.
The Falcons would later prove themselves in the throwing events, taking place just outside of the main stadium. In the hammer throw event, freshman Morgan Steele came out with an incredible season opener of 31.75 meters, setting herself a personal record and qualifying her for the MASCAC meet. Fellow hammer athletes, Sarah Elliot threw a 26.47m and Morgan Cefalu with a 26.45m. Both Steele and Elliot would also later go on to qualify in the shot put and discus throws.
One of the day’s best running performances belonged to Stephanie Stearns, a freshman and new asset on the mid-distance team. Having not competed with the team during the indoor track season, Stearns proved herself well in the 1500m race.
A strong kick on the last 300 meters, she finished with a qualifying time of 5:38.21. Stearns joined by fellow freshman Kelly McCarthy finished with a time of 5:44.03, and junior Jenae Harrison with a 5:38.86, will all go on to the MASCAC. When asked for a quote about her performance, Stearns said, “I’m not very good at that sort of thing, telling people what I thought.” Words weren’t needed to express the excitement of the team to see such a strong finish.
Back out in the field, junior Rebecca McClure, a well accomplished pole vault athlete, set out to prove herself once again. McClure has been in previous years known for her record breaking vaults, both the school and league records. This time last year, McClure had only vaulted a 2.28m height, placing herself second in the meet, but this year she wasn’t taking anything less than first.
With a finishing height of 3.05 meters, McClure took first in the meet and qualified for both the MASCAC and the DIII Alliance meet.
As the rest of the meet went on, the winds began to pick up in the early afternoon hours, making it difficult for any of the girls in the sprinting events to come in with a strong sprint to the finish. “The thermometer may have read 56˚, but pair that with 30 mph winds and it was a day better suited for kite flying than a track meet,” stated Coach Aubuchon.
Nonetheless, a little wind wasn’t stopping the sophomore newcomer Alexis Podedworny from finishing the 400m with a time of 1:22.78. Joined in the struggle against these windy conditions was returning athlete Stephanie Irving with a time of 1:13.09, putting them both just shy of making the MASCAC.
The head coach is hopeful of his team, looking forward to seeing what the women can do over the next five weeks of the short spring season. The falcons will compete next week at Tufts University.