Last weekend, the women’s and men’s indoor track and field teams competed in the New England Division III Championships, placing fifth out of 31 teams and sixteenth out of 23 teams, respectively. Captain Julia O’Rourke ’19 broke the program record in the 5000-meter run while Morgen Gallagher ’20 set a new 60-meter sprint record.
“I am so excited and still sort of in shock about the record,” wrote O’Rourke in an email to the Orient. “My first year, I got last in my regionals race, so for a solid chunk of my running career, I didn’t see myself as capable of breaking any records.”
O’Rourke attributes her success to the support of Head Coach Peter Slovenski. In the fall of 2018, Slovenski, who recently began his 32nd year coaching the men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field teams.
“Coach Slovenski was super helpful [in training] and I know that I wouldn’t have been able to perform how I did at regionals if he hadn’t been so flexible and cautious,” O’Rourke wrote.
On the men’s team, Mateo Rivera ’22 contributed the top performance of the championship with a 4th place finish in the 400–meter dash.
“Mateo is very cool in pressure-filled races,” Slovenski wrote in an email to the Orient. “There was a lot of contact in his race, but he broke through and pulled away for a high-scoring place.”
Both teams have had successful seasons thus far. Women’s track finished second to Bates in the February 1 Maine State Meet, where Sophia Slovenski ’22 broke the meet record with a vault of 12 feet, which was 18 inches higher than any other competitor. Men’s track took second to Bates in the Maine State Meetas well.
Still, both teams have faced challenges with ongoing injuries, which have especially decimated the men’s team.
“It’s definitely been a difficult season. There have been a lot of injuries; a lot of our top guys had unfortunate knock ups and were not able to compete. It wasn’t quite the season we were hoping for,” said captain Naphtali Moulton ’19.
“As is usually the case, some team members have faced ongoing injuries this season. It’s always hard to lose a meet knowing you didn’t have everyone in competition who might have been there otherwise,” wrote O’Rourke.
Despite the ongoing injuries on the women’s side, the team sits in a nice spot to qualify for the NCAA championships. The Polar Bears will know their final qualification status after March 2. The two relays that are likely to attend the NCAA championships are the women’s 4×400, which is currently seventh in the NCAA standings, and the women’s distance medley relay, which sits in ninth. The top 12 relay teams make it to the NCAA championship.
Track is one of the largest teams on campus with about 90 athletes on the men’s and women’s teams together, yet they still are just as close as a smaller team. O’Rourke believes that their tight knit community can be attributed to athletes making an effort to spend time with other teammates who aren’t in their same event groups.
“We all try to make sure we meet up at dinner even if our practices end at different times,” O’Rourke wrote. “Our team is very big, and it’s also very loving! I’m so grateful we have such a supportive and driven group of women!”
Both teams will be away this Saturday at the Tufts Invitational, which is the women’s and men’s teams’ last chance to qualify for nationals before rankings are solidified next week.