On April 5, the Colorado College women’s track and field team kicked off their season at the 2017 Mid-America Region Masters Indoor Championships, just up the road at the United States Air Force Academy. CC finished the meet with five runners topping the podium. Led by seven seniors, the Tigers are gearing up for what is sure to be a productive outdoor season.
In recent years, the Tigers strong suit has been distance events, and that has been proven again by the women’s cross country team, who, in the fall, had a record-breaking season. On the track, the Tigers are continuing this trend by returning seven individual podium finishers from the 2016 SCAC Championships, six of whom were distance runners.
Senior Stefani Messick has proven herself to be the team’s top 800-meter runner and school record holder. After a victory in the 800 at last years SCAC championships, she stands to improve even more this year. Last Sunday she started her season with a first-place finish in the 800, followed by junior Duranya Freeman and first-year Annabel Driussi.
Other returning athletes include last Fall’s SCAC Cross Country Runner of the Year senior Leah Wessler, who took first place in the 1500-meter race. Additionally, sophomore Alyssa Warling, the 10,000-meter school record holder, and senior Katie Sandfort, who both easily swept the 5,000-meter and 10,000-meter events at last year’s SCAC championships, are returning to the track this season.
“I think the first meet went well and the team is ahead of where we were last year,” said Warling. “The girls want to break school records in the mile, 800, 5k, 10k, and 4×4.”
Three more Tiger veterans swept the 3k, with senior Allie Crimmins, sophomore Leah Veldhuisen, and junior Kelsey Maxwell finishing first, second, and third, respectively.
With such a strong returning team, it seems nothing is impossible for the 2017 Tigers. However, the grind is not as easy as they make it look. “I think for a lot of the distance women it is hard to want to race hard again after achieving so many of our ambitious goals during the cross country season and thinking about how much work went into that season,” said Crimmins.
The sprinters have a hopeful outlook on the season as well. “The team honestly did extremely will for the first meet of the season,” said junior Sam Gilbert, who is .06 seconds off the school record in the 60-meter and won this race last Sunday. “Knowing from the first meet that we are already running faster than last season is extremely motivating.”
The Tigers also stood out in the 400m, finishing in the first three spots. Junior Asmeda Spaulding-Aguirre, Messick, and junior Ayla Loper finished first, second, and third.
With plenty of veteran experience at the helm, CC has no lack of young talent, adding 11 first-years to the Track and Field roster this season.
“It is nice to be surrounded by so many talented athletes who all compete in different events during track because you can feed off their excitement about the season,” said Crimmins.
“I think everyone is hoping for our highest point total ever at SCAC, and going after Texas Lutheran University in the field events,” said Warling.
It’s a given that Head Coach Ted Casteneda, who is in his 23rd season at the head of the program, has high expectations for this talented group of women.
The Tigers’ indoor season continues on Saturday, Feb. 18 in Golden, Colo.