The Merchant Marine women took to the track this past weekend to contest the Landmark Conference Championships against Susquehanna University, Moravian College, The Catholic University of America, Goucher College and Juniata College. While the women remained in 6th place overall, they increased their point total once again and had some fantastic performances.
As a collective unit the women performed as well as the possibly could. Their relay times were flat out outstanding as three of the four events ended with new Academy Records for the Mariners. The ladies started things off in the Distance Medley Relay shattering the Academy Record by a full 20 seconds and finished in 14:18.57. Individually, three of the four runners in the event ran a lifetime best mark for their spilt. FR Amber Kinter (pictured right) lead off the race with a 1200m leg that put the mariners right in the thick of the race. SO Chelsea Tapper followed with a two second personal best split in the 400m running a 71. SO Katie Miller ran a 2:46 800m that put the team ahead of Moravain College, a lead that FR Ellie Coulter held onto with her second fastest run over 1600m in 6:16.
The Mariners kept the momentum by obliterating the Academy Record in the 4x200m relay as well. The previous record of 2:03.66 was crushed as the team of SR Lauren Rattan, FR Michelle Danhoff, FR Amber Kinter and SR Kim Glore dropped two full seconds coming across the line in 2:01.63.
The 4x800m relay was a very strong race as well. The team of FR Ellie Coulter, Sophomores Katie Miller and Chelsea Tapper and Senior Renee Hogan saw three of its members run lifetime best marks by shocking margins to come in 5th place overall with a time of 11:12.20. "Coulter put us in the race with a great split of 2:46. Miller was still a little tired from her fantastic run in the DMR and still gave us a good leg in 2:51. Tapper was a little bit of a wild card since she had never raced an 800m before. She really came up big for us with a split of 2:48. Senior Renee Hogan elected to sacrifice running individual events for the good of the team. She came into this race completely fresh and ran faster than she probably ever thought she could manage. Never having broken 3:00 before in an open 800m, Hogan split a 2:45 to beat out Moravian and take 5th place.
The best performance of the day was saved for last. The ladies finished off the meet with another relay and another Academy Record. The same four that had previously set the Academy Record in the 4x200m relay (Rattan, Kinter, Danhoff and Glore) went on a tear in the 4x400m with each member running her best ever split. Team Captain Lauren Rattan ran through a tough field to get the stick to FR Amber Kinter towards the front of the pack. "Kinter's run was one of the most outstanding things that I saw all day. The best split she had ever run previously was a 68.9. She just got in the race and ran with everything she had for the team. She completed her leg in a 65.3 and really kept the ladies in there," said Coach Lott. FR Michelle Danhoff and SR Kim Glore finished it off for the Mariners beating the previous record by an unbelievable 12 seconds and finished in 4:33.23.
The top individual performance of the day came in the throws from JR Tara Mulligan. Mulligan ascended the conference ranks from a year ago to garner the highest individual conference finish by a Mariner in years. Her runner-up finish of 13.13m was the 2nd farthest throw of her career and picked up big points for the team. It was the first meet since 1/6 that Tara did not set a new Academy mark in the event. She now holds the Top 7 best throws in Academy history and nine out of the" Top 10". "Tara has been outstanding throughout the entire season," said Coach Lott. "She will absolutely be a force in multiple events as we head outdoors for the spring. I am very excited her continuous improvement and watch her contend for an individual conference championship in the Hammer throw". Senior Lauren Rattan also scored points individually for the Mariners. While her best performances of the day came in the relays, Rattan still ran a very solid race in the 800m to place 4th overall. Her time of a 2:29.53 is the fourth fastest ever at the Academy and equaled her finish from a year ago. "Lauren has been rock solid for us for the past couple of seasons. Her fitness is better than ever and I am fully confident that she well really put it together in the 800m this spring," commented Coach Lott. FR Michelle Danhoff just missed out on scoring for the Mariners individually with her 7th place finish in the 60m hurdles coming up short for the finals by only .03 seconds. Her time however was a significant improvement as she improved her own Academy Record from a 10.62 to a 10.30.
Overall the women ended up breaking an Academy Record 22 times this season. Records were set in relays, sprints, hurdles, and throws. The team is re-writing the record books and becoming significantly more competitive within the conference.
"Two years ago our women had only one point in the meet and didn't even have enough bodies to participate in most relays. Last year we made a nice jump up to 11 points and increased the number of participants on our team. This year we have made another great step. For the first time, USMMA could field all relays and were also competitive across the board. We had multiple individual scorers to help us get to our 18 points and several girls that were just barely out of a scoring place. Our Academy Records just keep falling each and every meet. We are a young team with lots of potential and we just keep getting better. It is great to see," said Head Coach Greg Lott after the meet.