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Muhlenberg College

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

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NCAA Championships Preview
Different routes, same goal for
track and field national qualifiers

The three members of the Muhlenberg track and field teams headed to the NCAA Indoor Championships on Friday and Saturday at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, all took very different routes to get there. But now that they are all going, the goal for each is the same.

“We’re all going to try and be All-Americans,” said senior Jennifer Lynch. “That’s what we set out to do from the beginning.”

NCAA track logo Of the three, Lynch took perhaps the most agonizing route, easily beating the provisional qualifying mark in the mile nearly a month ago at the Lafayette Winter Rider Games with a time of 4:59.30 – smashing her own school record by more than three seconds – and then slowly watching her name move down the performance list.

“I was definitely nervous about getting in,” she admitted. “When I first got the time I thought it was pretty secure, but I kept watching my name drop down the list. It was nerve-wracking.”

Lynch ended up getting in with the 11th-best time out of 13 entrants. She now hopes to improve on her performance last year, when she failed to get past the preliminaries.

“I need to make the finals this year,” she said. “I think I have what it takes.”

Alex Faust
Faust became the third woman in Centennial Conference history to win the same event four times at the CC Championships.
Senior Alex Faust didn’t have to fret at all about getting in, as she became the first Mule in history to automatically qualify for nationals in indoor track. Faust made the provisional mark of 12-1 in the pole vault in the first meet of the year, then two weeks later broke her own school record by clearing the automatic mark of 12-7, tied for the fifth-best pole vault in all of Division III this season, at the Muhlenberg Invitational.

That gave Faust five meets to practice for the NCAAs without any pressure.

“I looked at the meets as practices for nationals,” said Faust. “It was nice not having to worry about qualifying. I was just trying to get more comfortable with my highest heights.”

That extra practice time will be crucial, as the heights being cleared this year are significantly higher than last. In 2009 Faust narrowly missed at 12 feet at nationals, which would have placed, and the top pole vault there was 12-8; so far this season four pole vaulters have cleared that height, including a high of 13-5 .

Jennifer Lynch
Lynch owns school records in the mile, the 1,000, the 3,000 and as part of the DMR team.
“Last year my height [of 12-7] would have placed,” noted Faust. “Now it would be difficult to place at that height. But as long as I jump well and know I did my best I will be happy.”

Junior Bobby Torphy took another route altogether to get to the championships, hitting the qualifying mark in the 800 at the Columbia Last Chance Qualifier on Friday. Torphy broke the school record with a time of 1:53.19 and made it in as the 11th of 12 entrants.

Though it may have seemed like that would be the toughest way to get to nationals, Torphy wasn’t nervous at all.

“I had nothing to lose,” he said. “I didn’t have the time yet. It was in my hands at that point – either I got the time or I didn’t.”

Now he just hopes to do well in the preliminary round and take it from there.

“My goal is to go and compete in prelims and hopefully make the finals,” he commented. “In the finals anything can happen.”

Despite the various courses taken to qualify, one thing all the participants have in common is experience. All three went to the championships last year; Faust and Lynch both competed in the same events as this year, while Torphy was a member of the distance medley relay team that made All-American. Torphy was also the lone member of the cross country team to make the NCAAs in the fall.

“Having been there last year will help a lot,” said Torphy. “I’ll feel more like I belong there. I can go and compete and won’t be looking up to the other runners.”

Said Lynch, “I made myself really nervous last year and made a huge mistake because of the adrenaline and nerves. I learned a lot from that experience and it will really help me do better this year.”

And even if the trio doesn’t place, it will still have made history. A year after Faust and Lynch were the first two Mule females to reach nationals as individuals, Muhlenberg will send men’s and women’s individuals together to the indoor championships for the first time this season.

“It just shows how the program is getting better and better,” said Faust. “It’s nice to have teammates to cheer on. And it shows how much better the team is that we can take so many individuals.”
Click here for the championship site.

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