Women qualify more for conference

Leslie Combs

Despite the dismal weather conditions at the Penn Invitational last Saturday, the women’s track and field team managed to break through the elements at historic Franklin Field to qualify several more runners for the Big East Championship early next month.

Highlighting the day for the Wildcats was junior Melanie Rhoden who took first place in the 400 meter hurdles’ with a time of 1:01.82 minutes and earned a ticket to the conference meet later this season.

Also finishing in the top 10 in the same event was sophomore Sheriam Byam who placed fourth in 1:04.33.

Other impressive performances came in the 3,000m steeplechase, where sophomore Ioana Parusheva and freshman Bridget Akard both posted Big East qualifying times.

Parusheva captured the victory with her first place time of 10:40.14, while Akard took third in 11:27.39. Sarah Lamoy of Holy Cross crossed the line in between the two ‘Cats with her time of 11:03.63.

In the 1,500m run, ‘Nova was able to rack up yet another Big East qualifying performance with sophomore Colleen Taylor’s 12th place time of 4:42.05. Cornell’s Natalie Whelan won the race in 4:32.77.

Although sophomore Michelle Ezzie already qualified for the Big East in the pole vault, she continued to put out another impressive vault, winning the event with a height of 3.66m.

Along with the individual feats by ‘Nova, head coach Gina Procaccio said the Penn Invitational offered another opportunity for the relay teams to earn more on-track experience.

“It was just to get some practices on the relays,” Procaccio said.

The 4x100m relay team placed third with a time of 47.60 seconds behind Penn State’s second place team in 47.48 and Penn’s winning foursome in 47.41.

The deteriorating weather prompted Procaccio to scratch the 4x400m relay team from the competition rather than risk possible injury.

Overall, Procaccio feels that the women are where they should be at this point in the season. “Everyone is moving along,” Procaccio said.

This weekend, the ‘Cats will travel down south to the Sea Ray Relays in Knoxville, Tenn. “We are bringing a smaller group to see how we do against tougher competition,” Procaccio said.

Junior Rebecca Mitchell will begin her 2003 outdoor campaign in the 1,500m run after resting from the racing circuit since running at the Indoor Track and Field NCAA Championships this past March. Also joining her in the 1,500m run will be freshman Marina Muncan and sophomore Ioana Parusheva. Although Muncan and Parusheva have raced already this outdoor season, the Sea Ray Relays marks the first time the two will race against top competition.

Together these three ‘Cats represent part of ‘Nova’s elite running crew and hope to earn qualifying times for regionals down in Tennessee.

Following the trip down to Knoxville the women will compete at the Widener Invitational April 19 before returning to Philadelphia for the famous Penn Relays which will take place April 24-26.