That was the only word to describe the conference championships, as the Knights amassed 85 pointsto place fifth, their highest finish at an outdoor championships since 2009. Almost every athlete on the team met or exceeded expectations, making for a lot of happy Carls around the track, down the runways, and beside the rings.
The championships kicked off on Friday, with Ka’o Sutton ’14 improving her personal best in the hammer and taking sixth place in the discus. Jessa Youso ’13 also threw the discus, breaking the 35-meter mark for the first time. Also in the field, Megan Erlandson ’12 finished fourth in the vault, bravely confronting the windy conditions. Many of the running events on Friday were preliminary races, making for a lot of strategy and hopes of qualifying for the finals. Despite the odd racing, Lindsay Turchan ’15 dropped a few seconds in the 1500m run and Claire Karban ’14 had a solid performance in the 800m. Anna Persmarck ’15 just missed qualifying for finals in the 400m, making her ready to rock the 4 x 400 the next day.
In the two running events without preliminary heats on Friday, the Knights did well, setting two stadium records. Alison Smyth ’12 took the title in the 10,000m run and Simone Childs-Walker ’12 finished third. Taylor ffitch ’12 snagged a few points for the Knights with her seventh place finish and Shannon Mueller ’12 broke the 40-minute barrier in her first attempt at the 25 lap race this season.
The fun wasn’t over yet though, as the 4 x 800m was still to be run. Erlandson led off the relay, splitting a fantastic 2:18 before handing off to Becca Herd ’15. Herd kept the Knights battling for the win as she handed off to Colette Celichowski ’15. Celichowski gave the Knights a bit of a lead and then gave the baton to Clare Franco ’12. Franco then split an incredible 2:14.77 to seal the victory, break the stadium record, and smash the school record by over ten seconds.
Riding the day’s excellent performances, the Knights kept up their momentum going into day two. Avery Johnson ’15 launched the javelin 35.53 meters on her second attempt and proceeded to challenge Smyth for the title of “most enthusiastic person following a good performance.” The throw would secure her fourth place in the event.
On the track, the Knights lamented the lack of a 4 x 100m team and then moved on, getting ready to attack the 1500m, with three Knights in the final. Celichowski had another great performance, taking fourth in the event and Haley Johnson ’13 edged teammate Sarah Trautman ’13 by three one-thousandths of a second for sixth place. Ellie Wilson ’15 battled not only other competitors, but also a fever as she made her way to a third place finish in the 400m run. Running twice as many laps, Kaitlin Randolph ’12 showed that she could successfully recover from the 2:15 she ran in the prelims, taking third overall.
Near the end of the day, the team scores were announced. Carleton 63, St. Olaf 63. The two sides looked at each other, realized that their strongest event was coming up, and the 5000m began. The top Ole was forced into setting the pace, but Smyth and Childs-Walker didn’t let her stay at the top, finishing 1-2 in the event. ffitch again secured points with a seventh place finish and Mueller cracked the top half of the race. This performance pulled Carleton ahead and the 4 x 400m relay entry of Persmarck, Randolph, Johnson, and Franco finished seventh, running four flat to seal the deal.
It was a meet filled with excitement, as the men and women of Laird Stadium competed to the best of their abilities. Both teams beat the Oles and had a fitting finish to an outstanding season.