The University of Richmond women’s track and field team broke a school record, finished first in three events and had five top-three finishes at the 13th annual Fred Hardy Invitational from Friday, March 30 to Saturday, March 31.
On the second day of the meet, the 4-x-400 meter relay team of Haley Berkeley, Marshea Robinson, Maria Acosta and Brooke Fazio broke the school record with a time of 3 minutes, 44.97 seconds. The previous school record, set in 2013, was 3:48.71.
“For the 4-x-4, our goal was to get the school record, and we beat that by three seconds, so we’re really happy,” Acosta said. “It was so awesome because the ladies that held that record previously were insanely fast, so it feels great that as a unit we are just so much stronger.”
The Spiders were successful throughout both days of the meet.
On the first day of the meet, sophomore Claire Brown finished second in the 1,500 with a personal best and a qualifying time of 4:33.59. First-year Rebecca Fagan won her heat in the 5,000 and came in fourth overall with a time of 18:34.58. Sophomore Erika Echternach was the first student-athlete to cross the finish line in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in the Division I race and finished fourth overall with a time of 12:07.39.
“Our kids came to compete, and of course we expect that at any competition," said Lori Taylor, the head coach of women’s cross country and track and field, "but especially when we’re able to host our own home meet here and represent Richmond in front of our faculty and family who came to watch.
“I’m really proud of our older girls, our juniors and seniors, because they are leading and showing our younger athletes what we’re about, that we compete hard."
During the second day of competition, the Spiders swept the top three places in the 800. Sophomore Acosta came in first with a time of 2:09.71.
“My main goal was to run about a 2:07 in the 800m just so I could get some qualifying times out of the way," Acosta said. "We ran well but just didn’t quite get the time."
Acosta said that her main goal for the season was to get the NCAA qualifying time to make it to trials for the 800.
“My freshman year was such an adjustment," she said. "I had switched events kind of, so I was moving away from what I was previously training for, and this year I just feel so much stronger and so much more confident."
Brooke Fazio came in second in the 800 with a 2:11.86, and Marisa Ruskan rounded out the top three with a time of 2:13.15.
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The Spiders had a strong showing in the relays over the two-day meet.
“Our 4-x-100 meter, I’m very excited about that," Taylor said. "We’re building a stronger sprint and jumps group, and they ran really well for an early season 4-x-100 meter relay."
The Spiders won both the 4-x-800 and the 4-x-400. The 4-x-800 relay team composed of Claire Brown, Caroline Robelen, Peyton McGovern and Julia Willcox clocked in at 9:22.19.
The Spiders also took four of the top five spots in the 3,000 with Eryn Mills in the lead at a time of 9:49.27, a personal best for her by 14 seconds.
“I wanted to set out and win the 3k and I did, and I wanted to get under 10 minutes as well, which I also did," Mills said. "It’s really exciting, especially because this is only my second collegiate win, and to win at Fred Hardy in front of the home crowd is always a plus."
Colleen Carney came in second in the 3,000 with a 9:57.08, Kylie Regan placed fourth with a 10:08.60 and Courtney Thompson wasn’t far behind in fifth with a 10:10.17.
“All the girls are together in a tight pack, and they’ve all pushed me through multiple workouts," Mills said. "They’ve definitely helped me achieve everything I have so far."
Taylor said the team is not quite as deep as she wants it to be but that the new recruiting class will be a great addition that should help offset the loss of graduating seniors.
“For us, a top-three finish at the outdoor championships is a big goal and just competing hard and setting personal bests, leading into our more long-term goal here in the next year or two, to be winning the indoor and outdoor championships as well as cross country, as we’ve won in the past,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the passion her athletes have for the sport was what drives them through each season.
“I think all us of did really well,” Acosta said. “We came here, we had a few goals, we set records and honestly had a great weekend. We’re very happy.”
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