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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Track and field compete at George Davis Invitational and Ivy League Championships

After 19 first-place finishes at the George Davis Invitational on April 19 and 20, the women’s and men’s track and field teams ended Ivy Championships this weekend in seventh and fifth place, respectively.

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With 19 first-place finishes, the men’s and women’s track and field teams showcased their capabilities at the George Davis Invitational, held at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell on April 19 and 20. This weekend, the teams competed in the 2024 Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Championships in Princeton, where the women’s team placed seventh and the men’s team placed fifth.

Distance runner Eric Sankey ’26 said the George Davis Invitational was valuable preparation “for the end of the season, whether it’s just the Ivies or NCAA regionals.” 

Sankey finished first place in the men’s 1500m race at the invitational with a time of 3:48.38. He said he had been excited for the meet as an opportunity to compete without the pressure of high stakes.

“It wasn’t a high-stakes meet, like Ivies or regionals, but it’s definitely one that all of us were looking forward to in terms of being able to just have another racing opportunity on the calendar,” Sankey said. 

Distance runner Natalie Shapiro ’24 also said the George Davis invitational was valuable preparation for the team.

“There weren’t any big expectations or crazy weight placed on this [meet],” Shapiro said. “This was just a really lighthearted meet, and I think everyone was able to run very free and happy, which is when you have your best performances.”

Shapiro, who normally competes in the 5k, placed first in the women’s 1500m with a time of 4:21.82, followed by five other Dartmouth athletes, who placed second through sixth. 

The George Davis Invitational was one of the first meets this season that the whole team attended together, according to distance runner Claire McDonald ’27. McDonald won the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 11:05.05.

“I think a huge reason we had so much success in this meet was because we were like one collective group, [which led to] more energy, more excitement,” McDonald said.

After a successful run at the George Davis Invitational, the teams traveled to Princeton for the 2024 Ivy League Heptagonal Outdoor Championships, where they took on the seven other Ivy League teams. 

In preparation for the meet, Sankey and McDonald said the team and its coaches established expectations for the athletes to be competitive within their event groups and ultimately land in the top half of the Ivy League. While qualification for the NCAA regionals is based solely on time, Sankey said times are less important for the Ivy Championship than beating opponents.

“We’re really excited about leaving it all out there,” assistant coach and throws coach Jeff Forino said. “No regrets. The points will fall where they fall because we can’t control what happens. We can only control what we do and the effort we put in.”

Many athletes saw individual success at Heps. Thrower Ben Pable ’25 set a school record in the hammer throw with a mark of 67.52, placing second in the meet, according to the Heps results website. Decathletes Jack Inthiar ’27 and Karl-Oskar Pajus ‘26 placed first and second in the decathlon, earning Dartmouth a combined 18 points. 

Each individual athlete’s performance earns their team points based on the athlete’s placement. Places first through sixth earn points for their teams, with first place earning 10 points.

After the conclusion of the competition’s 22 events, the Big Green women’s track and field team finished in seventh place with 33.5 points, while the men’s team finished fifth with 61 points. 

Reflecting on the season overall, Forino said injuries have been the team’s largest obstacle. 

“You have people landing on a pole vault mat or a high jump mat and getting a concussion just from their head jerking, people stepping on the track rail and hurting an ankle or people slipping and falling on a run,” Forino said. “It’s nothing they’re doing, it’s just luck of the draw.” 

Despite these obstacles, a supportive team culture has propelled the athletes through the season, according to Shapiro.

McDonald also said the track and field team is a “very tight-knit community,” highlighting team barbecues and hangouts.

“When one person accomplishes their goals, it’s inspiring and exciting for everyone else,” Shapiro said. 

She added that this is why the group has been “improving as a full team.”

Forino said several of the athletes give up their own races to pace their teammates so that they can PR, showcasing the importance of teamwork in what many would consider an individual sport.

According to Forino, pacing a race is a strategic approach where an athlete aims to run at a predetermined speed throughout the race to provide a reference point for their teammates. The constant speed allows their teammates to gauge their own performance and potentially PR. This tactic is especially useful in meets where multiple athletes from the same team compete in the same heat, such as the George Davis Invitational. 

“[The pacers] are pushing the people that aren’t used to running that race but have a lot of ability,” Forino said. “Giving your race to help someone else do better is part of track and field when it comes to the distance events.”

Pietrasiewicz and Murray helped to pace the 1500m at the George Davis invitational for runners unfamiliar with the event, like Shapiro, according to Forino. Pietrasiewicz placed second, and Murray placed third in the event.  

Post-Heps, many athletes are looking to qualify and compete in the NCAA regionals, which take place from May 22 to 25. Qualifications happen on an individual time basis, rather than team performance like at Heps. 

At regionals, the top 48 individual athletes and top 24 relay teams are accepted into the first round of competition for individual events. Both the East and the West regions have first rounds, and the qualifiers out of these two regions will compete in the 2024 Division 1 Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field Championships.