After a successful indoor season, Wheaton Track & Field performed exceptionally well at the New England Division III Championships on Feb. 18 at MIT. Among those Lyons who placed, the most impressive may have been Abby Epplett ’18, who won the 600-meter run in record-breaking time, maintaining her undefeated title in the event.
The Track & Field team continued its success this season, partially due to the tight-knit community of the program. “We’ve merged the distance and sprinting team into one and have been very unified throughout the season,” Samantha Kaplan ’18 said. “We really took the time to learn each other’s goals and have been great at helping each other reach them. I think that’s a strong reason why we’ve been doing so well because we are invested in each other’s races and not just our own.”
The bond the team has made was something that some upperclassmen said led to their success in the Division III Championships. “I train with these people every day and I know what we are capable of,” hurdler and jumper Raevyn Fontaine ’18 said. “I would not have expected anything less from our team. We have so much potential and it’s always a great day when we can tap into that.”
Despite the success of the team, some key members did have injuries and were not able to compete in the Division III Championships, such as Roni Diniz ’20, who said he got hurt in his second race. “I believe my impact on the team would have been much higher if I didn’t get hurt,” Diniz said.
Despite his injury, Diniz hopes to compete in the all-state tournament to qualify for Nationals. He also said having a jumping coach, less team separation and a better track would all be beneficial for Wheaton. Dinz currently says that “our track is not a good track to prepare us for high competition.”
Abby Epplett ’18 was able to break Wheaton’s best 600-meter time at the Division III Championship with time of 1:35.71. The record was previously held by Ashante Little ’14 who was previously an All-American and national record holder for the 400 meter hurdles. Epplett ‘18, like some of her teammates, dealt with injury during the season. “I was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, which causes my feet and lower legs to become numb if I run for too long,” Epplett ’18 said. She had to find alternative training methods and wanted to break the record for quite some time.
The 600-meter race unfortunately is not contested at Division III Nationals, so Epplett will have to change her training. “I have a good chance of re-breaking the record in the future,” Epplett said, “but right now I need to focus on other events.”