The pinnacle of the indoor track and field season is the national championship meet. This year, six determined Rensselaer student-athletes earned the opportunity to compete among fellow driven runners and throwers from across the country. Reaching the National Collegiate Athletics Association Division III Indoor Track & Field Championship Meet is the ultimate reward for indoor athletes from Division III schools everywhere in the nation, serving as the perfect environment for these athletes to exhibit the skill they have gained from the conditioning and training leading up to the meet. This year, the meet was held in Grinnell, IA, on Friday, March 11, and Saturday, March 12.
Listed in the order that they ran their leg, junior Maddie Dery, sophomore Caroline Howes, junior Jodi Wrzosek, and sophomore Jaime Lord competed together in the women’s distance medley relay on Friday to place ninth, just one position away from National All-American status. They would be the first at the meet from RPI to break their own school record, which they beat by over four seconds with a time of 11:55.17.
“Being the last leg of the relay, I knew it was up to me to try and get into the top eight so we could place,” said Lord. “Sadly, I was just two seconds short of this, but I ran an awesome time because I was running for not just myself but these three amazing other girls I got the chance to bond with the whole weekend.”
Also on board the plane to Grinnell were junior Ben Fazio and senior Tyler Yeastedt. They competed in the men’s mile preliminary and the men’s weight throw, respectively.
Fazio ran 4:17.85 in the mile to finish 15th, but he was only separated from the leader by five seconds at the line. Fouling his final two attempts, Yeastedt’s first throw of 16.89 meters gave him 13th place, with the event winner throwing over 20 meters.
Dery and Lord returned to the track on Saturday to race in the women’s 3000 meter run. Both distance runners beat not only their own personal records, but also Lord’s previously set school record. Lord’s time of 9:40.01 won her a seat as third-ranked nationally, and in sixth place, but only tenths of a second behind her in the race, was Dery with a time of 9:40.65.
“The two girls seeded ahead of [Maddie and I] in the 3000 were two girls we had heard about running these crazy times all season,” said Lord. “We never imagined we’d be in a position to race with them.”
With the indoor season over, the Engineers have begun preparing for the outdoor portion of their season. Their first outdoor meet will be at Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania at 10 am on Saturday, April 2.