On Sunday, six days after Princeton Athletics entered Phase IV of the Ivy League’s four-phase plan, the track and field team held a meet at Weaver Track Stadium against The College of New Jersey and Temple University.
Despite holding two inter-squad meets this season, competing in an official meet with athletes from other schools brought a new atmosphere of excitement.
“The energy I felt on Sunday reminded me of how track meetings were like in high school so it was exciting to get back to it,” commented Daniel Duncan, a freshman sprinter.
Duncan ran the 200m in 21.20s and the 100m in 10.61s in his first collegiate season opener, already putting him fifth and ninth, respectively, on Princeton’s all-time list for those events.
In reference to Duncan’s successful debut, Kelton Chastulik, a senior thrower, said that his highlight of the day was “seeing people like Danny compete outdoors for the first time, having their first collegiate meet ever. That's just so exciting. I remember having the thought … that this is a meet that counts.” Chastulik, who threw 16.32m in the shot-put, will be joining the workforce after graduation but hopes to participate in post-collegiate competitions.
William Cauley, a freshman thrower, finished first in hammer throw at 59.46m, the tenth-best mark in Princeton’s history for the event. Two freshmen sprinters, William Doyle and Ladislav Töpfer, ran the 400m in 47.48s and 47.75s, respectively. Ethan Reese, a sophomore middle-distance runner, finished first in 800m in a time of 1:53.13, followed by teammate Jordan Kaplan, a freshman, in 1:54.96.
The women’s track and field team also had a successful season opener with multiple personal records (PRs) and school records broken.
Freshman Kate Joyce threw 50.44m in the javelin, breaking the school record of 48.01m held previously by junior Rylie Pease, who is currently on a gap year. Joyce, who had been throwing around the 50m mark in the inter-squad meets, said, “I was kind of expecting it to happen, but it still was really exciting to have it count.”
Luisa Chantler Edmond, a junior thrower, broke her PR with a hammer throw of 53.59m, placing her sixth all-time in Princeton’s record books. In the discus throw, senior Obiageri Amaechi, a First-Team All-American and 2019 Ivy League Outdoor Champion, also registered a new PR of 55.59m. Amaechi plans on competing for the Tar Heels at UNC Chapel Hill next year.
“I had already come to terms with the possibility of not competing with Princeton ever again,” Amaechi said. “And just to have the opportunity to compete again, it's just really great. It made you feel like, all around, progress happening is in the world … in different places.”
Additionally, Kara Steele, a senior jumper, debuted 12.56m in the triple jump, which broke her PR and moved her to second all-time at Princeton.
With their marks, Joyce, Amaiche, and Steele have qualified for the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional. However, the athletes are awaiting an announcement from the University to see whether they will be able to compete at the event per current guidelines.
The runners of the team also had successful season openers. Junior Page Lester, who had not competed on the track since her sophomore year of high school due to injuries, placed first in the 5k in 16:28.51. Lester was followed by senior distance runner Katherine Leggat-Barr, who ran a PR of 16:48.21.
Michelle Eisenreich, the women’s track and field head coach, noted that “It was awesome to see everyone at Weaver Stadium. I saw a bunch of our administrators there, and I didn't actually see President Eisgruber but I heard he was there. It was a big relief just because it's been such a long, long time and a long road to be able to earn the opportunity to get here. It was awesome.”
Many of the athletes shared similar sentiments.
“I know people work hard — they’ve been working hard over these last few months, and I think seeing that all come to fruition has been really exciting. Above all, seeing teammates compete and have a good time and being able to actually compete was a big highlight on Sunday,” Chastulik said.
Next, the team will be on the road to Rowan University’s Coach Richard Wackar Stadium for another meet on May 1.