Track and field teams take home victories at Dartmouth Relays

by Gretta Pickett | 1/13/20 2:05am

Last Friday, Leverone Field House was filled to capacity for the 2020 Dartmouth Relays. Amid hundreds of voices and under bright fluorescent lights, the Big Green track and field teams competed against eight other schools, coming away with victories on both the men’s and women’s sides.

This competition comes early on in the indoor track and field season, offering athletes a chance to see where they stand after winter break. Several individuals laid down impressive performances, earning first place titles in their events. One of those individuals was Claire Dougherty ’20, a senior who won the women’s 800m in 2:13.55. Dougherty said she was just excited to test her abilities in an early-season meet.

“We call it a rust buster,” Dougherty said. “Bust the rust off, get the race under your belt, see what it feels like to race that speed again, that distance and just sort of figure things out.”

Other athletes who took home wins for the Big Green were Myles Epstein ’23 in the men’s 60m, Julia Valenti ’20 in the women’s pole vault, Lily Lockhart ’21 in the women’s shot put and Cha’Mia Rothwell ’20 in both the women’s long jump and the women’s 60m hurdles. Both the men’s and women’s 4x400 meter relays took first place. This is the tenth time in a row that the women have won the Dartmouth Relays, and the eighth time in nine years that the men have won.

When asked how she felt about her race, Dougherty replied that she felt “pretty good” about it, but that the best part was being “back on the track with [her] teammates again.”

One of Dougherty’s teammates who also performed exceptionally well was Mathieu Freeman ’21, who won the men’s 400m run. This is Freeman first season running the 400m, and going into the race, Freeman had one goal. He wanted to finish the two laps around the unbanked indoor track in under 50 seconds, a tough goal for a flat track and an early season race. Freeman was successful, finishing the race in 49.98 seconds, the only competitor to run under 50 seconds.

“There was one guy in the first 200 who went out pretty fast, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect and how fast to go, but I kind of just stayed under control and stuck with my form and luckily I was able to catch him by the end,” Freeman said.

Another strong performance came from Camille Landon ’21 in the women’s high jump. Landon’s leap of 1.69m or 5-feet-6.5-inches earned her first place and 10 points for the team. Like Dougherty, Landon also had a goal to “knock off some of the rust” in addition to staying relaxed and jumping higher than she did at an earlier meet.

“I really wanted to focus on staying loose, not tensing up, and especially accelerating towards the bar and being light off the ground,” Landon said.

On her goals moving forward, Landon said she wants to continue building “steady momentum” toward the Ivy League Heptagonal Indoor Track and Field Championships at the end of February.

“I want to keep getting incrementally better so I can peak at the end of the season and hopefully place at Heps,” Landon said.

Both Landon and Freeman are juniors who took their off-terms this fall. Training on an off-term can be a difficult thing, especially during the season directly before indoor track. Fall training usually contains a lot of conditioning and hard weightlifting. However, the fall is the only time that track athletes are not competing, and thus the only term available to be taken off. Distance athletes, who often run cross-country in the fall in addition to indoor and outdoor track, sometimes opt out of sophomore summer in order to be eligible for competition during all three seasons.

On training by himself this fall, Freeman said that work and the difficulty of getting to a track made workouts more challenging.

Landon agreed with Freeman that training on an off-term was challenging, but said that it offered some good time for reflection.

“It’s tough not having anyone to hold you accountable, but it does offer some really nice reflection and alone time, and I think it made me appreciate the act of lifting weights,” Landon said. “It was really pleasant solitude that was different from the raucous atmosphere that the weight room normally is.”

Next Friday, Dartmouth will host the DYC (Dartmouth, Yale, Columbia) meet in Leverone Field House.