Two Medals, Plenty of Qualifiers for Women's T&F

Two Medals, Plenty of Qualifiers for Women's T&F

COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Two medals and several qualifiers made for a productive afternoon for the Ursinus College women's track and field team on the second day of the Centennial Conference outdoor championship.

Freshman Kateryna Swan (high jump) and senior Katherine Damato (heptathlon) both collected bronze in their respective events for the Bears, who ended the day in eighth place with 21.5 points and the potential for much more on Sunday.

Senior Catherine Buczek won the 400-meter hurdles prelims for Ursinus, which also saw sophomore Kira Miller (100 hurdles) and freshman Gianna Speranza qualify for finals heats.

Speranza turned in an impressive all-around performance, placing seventh in the high jump and booking her spot in the finals in both the 100- and 200-meter dash in a scintillating outdoor championship debut.

Damato was just eight points out of third to begin the day and quickly made up the ground in the long jump, where her 15-3.50 was well ahead of Muhlenberg's Rashida Haye, who finished Friday night in the last podium spot. Damato's heave of 82-9 was a PR by just over six feet in the javelin and placed her in fifth, just 20 points ahead of the fourth-place contender heading into the final event.

Damato finished strong with a second-place finish in the 800, leading much of the way and crossing in 2:37.97 to secure her first career outdoor championship medal. She racked up 3518 total points, landing behind only a pair of Johns Hopkins entrants.

Swan just missed a PR in the high jump, but she didn't miss out on a medal. The rookie's mark of 4-10.50 was good for a tie for third and a share of the bronze, her first career conference championship hardware. Speranza also scored for the Bears, finishing tied for seventh with a 4-8.75.

Buczek lived up to her billing as the top seed in the 400-meter hurdles, cruising to victory in the prelims with a 1:04.69, almost a full second faster than the runner-up. The Bears have never had a gold medalist in the 400 hurdles at the outdoor championship, but Buczek – who came in ranked 33rd in Division III – is the overwhelming favorite to make history on Sunday.

Speranza came right back from her place-winning high jump to book a spot in the 100-meter dash finals, registering a personal-best 12.88 to land in sixth. It was the first time under the 13-second barrier for Speranza, whose previous record was 13.19. Swan also notched a PR, finishing 10th in 13.35.

Speranza added another PR and qualifier in the 200-meter dash for good measure, completing the race in 27.09 to finish eighth and punch her ticket to Sunday's final.

Miller qualified for the 100-meter hurdles finals with a career performance, trimming a half-second off her personal record and finishing third in her heat with a mark of 16.37 seconds. That left her with the eighth and final spot in Sunday's championship heat.

The 4x800-meter relay team of senior Jenna Kelly, junior Riley Engel, senior Lily Talerman, and junior Audrey Simpson finished sixth with a time of 10:03.43. The placement was the Bears' best in the longest relay at the outdoor meet since taking sixth in 2013, and the time was almost 40 seconds ahead of last year's pace.

Sophomore Sophia Simoes was just off the pace for a finals spot in the discus, taking ninth with a toss of 103-2.00. Freshman Vikki Rueda-Juarez was 12th with a PR 98-4.00, and classmate Shelsea Deravil was 15th (96-1.00).

Sophomore Catherine Curran narrowly missed a berth in the 400 hurdles final, coming in just .28 seconds off of qualifying time with a new PR of 1:09.41.

Junior Caroline Buckley came in 11th in the long jump (15-2.00).

The CC championship concludes Sunday, with action beginning at 11 a.m.