Sports | Track

Track and field competes against premier teams at Armory Collegiate Invitational

  • Youjin Jenny Jang / Senior Staff Photographer
    billt to run | Senior Trina Bills and the track team need to give their best efforts to qualify for NCAAs.

If there’s a weekend to shatter your PRs, it’s this one.

Track and field head coach Willy Wood expects some personal records to be broken this weekend, as the team sends delegations to the prestigious Armory Collegiate Invitational and the Giegengack Invitational at Yale. Athletes from 92 schools and a number of local racing clubs will be competing at the Armory in the two-day meet, while fewer than a dozen schools will head to New Haven on Saturday.

The runners’ goal is to keep lowering their seed times week to week, allowing them to run in even more competitive races and motivating the runners to run even faster. Wood says this is the weekend to PR, in order to run fast enough to qualify for NCAAs, scheduled for the weekend of March 14.

“We’ve really geared everything to this week and next week in terms of our big preparation before Heps,” Wood said. “It’s all about performing at the highest level possible, while Heps is much more about competing for a particular place. These are really the two weeks that are the most realistic if you’re going to make it to NCAAs.”

The gigantic Armory meet will feature some of the country’s top runners and jumpers, and many of the Lions competing there are expected to secure an NCAA berth. But many of the athletes headed to Yale are right on the edge, making this a critical meet for them.

“If they don’t show potential to run fast, they’re not going to get into some of the big meets because they won’t have the seed times for it, and if they don’t get into the fast meets, then they’re not going to run superfast times,” senior Trina Bills said, calling the situation a catch-22.

For the first time this season, the women will enter a team into the distance medley relay, or DMR, which consists of a 1,200-, a 400-, an 800-, and a 1,600-meter leg. This weekend, the respective legs of the race will be run, in order, by sophomore Olivia Sadler, sophomore Jaycee Parker, Bills, and junior Waverly Neer.

It’s widely considered an odd combination—sprinters and milers hardly ever interact. “I don’t know if Waverly and Jaycee really know each other because they don’t train with each other,” Bills said.

Nevertheless, Wood said, the DMR “fits very well into our strengths. We’ve historically always had very good sprinters, particularly on the women’s side, and we’ve always had very good middle-distance and distance runners. Something that we always look to, in terms of a goal of indoor, is to get a team to nationals. But with that said, they only take 12 in the country.”

It will be the first race of the season for Neer, who went to NCAAs for cross country in the fall. Wood said that the former All-American has struggled with her Achilles tendon, but that if she’s in full health Friday, “this is going to be the big shot for her.”

The first Light Blue runner goes off at 10:40 a.m. Friday at the Armory.

finn.vigeland@columbiaspectator.com | @fvigeland

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