The women's track team viewed the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet in Cambridge, Mass. as a tune up for the Heptagonal Championship. Instead, Princeton learned that it has more fine tuning to do before the Heps.
"No one is going to give you the Heptagonal Championships," head coach Peter Farrell said.
Saturday, Princeton suffered a heartbreaking, three-point loss to Harvard, 61-58, but finished ahead of Yale, which scored 29 points.
If the Tigers are going to rebound from the loss and win Heps, they will have to make some adjustments. In particular, the Tigers must run smarter races.
Harvard was able to beat out Princeton by running tactical races in the 800 meters and the mile. The Crimson runners boxed in senior Michelle D'Agostino in the 800 and junior Heather Onuma in the mile, which forced both runners to change their strategy. Neither Onuma nor D'Agostino were able to adjust, and they finished third and second respectively.
D'Agostino and Onuma were not the only victims of Harvard's tactics. Much of the team, particularly in the middleand long-distance races, fell prey to the Crimson and "didn't make the right decisions," Farrell said. But Farrell noted that learning from incorrect decisions is part of the maturation process.
Nevertheless, both D'Agostino and Onuma bounced back in the 4x800 meter relay, running an outstanding two minutes, 13 seconds in their legs, and along with the performances of senior Tara Sulkowski and junior Cecily Gallup, the relay team finished first.
One bright spot for the Tigers was junior Cecily Gallup, usually the Tigers' third 800 runner, who had a breakthrough day finishing second.
Despite the loss, there was no dearth of spectacular individual performances.
Junior Bynia Reed continued to tear it up in the 400, running a school record but finishing second by a step.
Senior captain Nicole Harrison took both the 55- hurdles and the 200, while Hadiya Green finished first in the triple jump. Green also finished second in the long jump with a jump of 18 feet , 1 1/4 inches behind junior Aiyanna Burton's first place finish of 18-3.
Nor was sophomore Shawneequa Callier's personal best high jump of 5-8 – six inches higher than her jump a year ago – anything to be overlooked.
But many of the Tigers did not perform up to their expectations.
"A lot of people didn't reach their individual goals," senior captain Green said.
It was not for lack of effort that the Tigers did not prevail. Farrell noted that some of the team seemed tired and, thus, did not perform to their capabilities. Fatigue, as a result of a grueling practice schedule and weekly competition, may have taken its toll.
"A couple of events didn't go our way," Farrell said. "We didn't help ourselves."
The Tigers have two weeks before Heps to regroup, recover from their fatigue and address their tactical mistakes.
"The team was not pleased with its performance," senior captain Megan Phillips said. "But it is definitely an incentive for Heps."
"We're going to have to go all out to win the Heps," Green added. "(The loss) is good as a wakeup call."
The Tigers will, in fact, need to be at their best if they want to prevail Feb. 28 in Jadwin against the likes of Cornell, Brown and Harvard.