Track & field teams place third at NCAC championship meet

The men’s and women’s track and field teams found success at NCAC Championships on March 3 and 4, both placing third overall in the conference.

“The team as a whole really brought their A game, and everyone was inspired by all the performances all around. Everyone peaked for that meet. The conference competition brought out the best in everyone, and we had our best races of the year so far,” said John Hughes, ’18.

Hughes was on the second place distance medley relay team, came in first in the mile with a personal best of 4:19.06 and placed second in the 3,000 meter with a season best of 8:48.57. Following the conference championship, Hughes was named the NCAC Mid/Distance Most Valuable Performer, becoming the eighth Allegheny athlete to earn the title.

“It was a big honor. I was really excited to get that and happy that all my hard work culminated in this weekend, and I was able to succeed in all three of my events,” Hughes said.

The men’s team finished out distance events with more wins from Carter Smith, ’18, who placed first in the 3,000 meter at 8:46.23, and Dan Cheung, ’17, who placed first in the 5,000 meter with a time of 14:35.76. Cheung’s time was the ninth-fastest time of a DIII athlete this season and qualified him for the NCAA DIII Indoor Track & Field National Championships in the 5,000 meter.

The men’s throwers placed well with personal bests at conference championships. Kurtis Williams, ’19, finished first in the shot put with a throw of 14.31 meters on his final attempt.

“I won weight throw and shot put, and I actually [got a personal record] by a meter and a half in weight throw with a 17.38,” Williams said. “Shot put went well to a degree — I wanted to do a little bit better but I came out with a win. Our team competed extremely well, and it was the most fun I’ve had at a track meet in a long time.”

Williams is the first NCAC indoor shot put champion from Allegheny since 2008.

The women’s team also succeeded in their events. Amanda Balzer, ’17, placed first in the 60 meter hurdles at 9.16 seconds and a third place finish in the 200 meter dash at 26.77 seconds.

After finishing her final NCAC indoor event, Megg Cantlay, ’17, was named Mid/Distance Most Valuable Performer. Cantlay won the 800 meter dash with a career-best time of 2:17.27 and competed alongside Balzer, Tori Valachovic, ’20, and Noelle Lemons, ’17, in the 4×400 relay  which finished first at 4:03.71.

“The four by [400] was definitely a highlight. We weren’t expected to win that one. We were seeded at fourth place with a time about 10 seconds slower than we actually ran, so it was a huge surprise to me that we came through and took first place,” Lemons said.

Lemons also competed in the distance medley relay that placed first with a final time of 12:37.80.

“Everybody was really supportive of everyone else, and I don’t think anyone was very upset with how they did. It was overall a really great meet for everybody,” Lemons said. “One thing that stuck out to me about our meet this year was that everyone really came together and supported each other during their races.”

The teams are now looking ahead to their outdoor season, and they are working to get more personal bests through outdoor championships.

“With the momentum we have from indoor championships, I’m really looking forward to seeing what the team can do in our outdoor season,” Lemons said. “Everyone has been working so hard and putting their all into their workouts and competition, so I want to see what the team can do, and so far I’m proud of everybody.”

Hughes said the team’s training for the indoor season does not slow down around meets since the focus is on preparing for the outdoor season, however throughout the outdoor season, they will have rest periods before big meets and taper before the final outdoor championship meet.

The team will begin outdoor competition on Saturday, March 25, at the Carnegie Mellon Invite.