The College of Wooster women's track and field team, which extended its streak of years represented at the NCAA Div. III Championships to seven after a successful 2017 campaign, looks to continue its run of competitive championship showings with a host of versatility up and down the roster.
"Heading into this season we have some very strong women within the team concept who should make a really positive impact at the conference level," said head coach Dennis Rice.
The Fighting Scots claimed fourth-place at the North Coast Athletic Conference Outdoor Championships in 2015 and 2017. Working behind an established core with a promising young contingent, Rice expects this year's team to make a competitive showing at the conference level and beyond.
"We also have women on the team that are capable of moving on to the next level, to the NCAA level, so if we can strengthen that core group of women that we currently have with some of the younger women, we should have an outstanding opportunity to do some great things this upcoming season," Rice said.
Versatile junior Carolyn Webster returns as one of the Scots' leading point earners, having qualified for the NCAA Div. III Outdoor Championships last season in the high jump after making her first national appearance at the NCAA Div. III Indoor Championships in 2016. As a threat in the long jump, high jump, and multi-events, Webster garnered All-NCAC, All-Ohio and USTFCCCA All-Region honors last season.
Providing depth in the jumps are senior Elizabeth Obi and junior Mallory Crane, both of whom scored at the indoor and outdoor NCACs. Crane, noted for her consistency at the championship level, peaked at the ideal time with a personal-best 33 feet, 11.25 inches in the triple jump at the outdoor conference championships. Likewise, Obi showcased her dependability with a top-eight showing in each competition, highlighted by a personal-best in the triple jump (35 feet, 3.25 inches) at the NCAC outdoor meet.
Sophomore Akwia Tilton provided an immediate impact in the short sprints, relays and jumps last season, leaping to All-NCAC honors in the indoor long jump in her first career collegiate appearance before garnering her second all-conference certificate of the year as a runner-up in the outdoor 200 meters.
In the distance and middle distance events, a core group of veterans leads a promising young contingent, starting with seniors Ashley Ferguson and Mackenzie Kellar. Ferguson capped the fall cross country season on a high note as the second team finisher at the Great Lakes Regional and is expected to continue her success as one of Wooster's team leaders.
Kellar, a versatile point scorer, contributed to the team point total as a pole vaulter, a middle distance and distance runner, and as a relay leg, highlighted by two career all-conference certificates in the distance medley relay.
Continuing with middle distance, junior Emani Kelley provides veteran leadership and point scoring talent in a variety of roles, notably as an 800 specialist and 4x400 relay contributor.
Junior Kassady Murphy headlines the Scots' throwers after placing 12th in both the hammer throw and discus at last year's outdoor conference championships. The Poland, Ohio native competed in seven meets and set personal-records in both the hammer throw and discus last spring.
Junior Julia Higgins returns as the Scots' 400-meter hurdles specialist and a veteran relay contributor with the potential to challenge the top hurdlers in the conference after logging four top-eight individual finishes last outdoor season, led by a scoring performance at the conference meet.
Junior Erika Womack, who missed last season due to studying abroad, is welcomed back as a key relay contributor and short sprinter, as is sophomore Korri Palmer, who competed in seven meets and totaled three top-eight performances as part of an overall consistent first year.
Bolstering the sprint and relay group is sophomore Regan Szalay, who took fifth-place in the open 400 at the outdoor NCACs in addition to helping the 4x400 to a fourth-place showing.
Speaking of relays, last year's full 4x400 lineup returns in Szalay, Keller, Tilton, and Kelley while the 4x100 garners two returnees in Tilton and Palmer.
Wooster opens the indoor season at the Oberlin Tri-Meet on Jan. 12 before hosting the Wooster Quad on Jan. 20 at the Scot Center.