From the Archives: The women’s track trifecta

When the Ivy League’s track and field teams compete at the Outdoor Heptagonals May 8-9 at Princeton’s Weaver Track, the Tiger women will be aiming for a rare trifecta — Ivy titles in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track in the same academic year. The last — and only — women’s team to accomplish that feat also ran for Princeton, in 1980-81. Below, PAW looks back in the archives for its account of that remarkable team, which, like this year’s squad, was coached by Peter Farrell. Farrell, now in his 33rd season, enters the weekend with 24 Ivy track or cross country championships, eight in each season.

Fans of Ivy track and field history also may be interested in Brett Hoover’s HepsTrack.com story about the 1970 Heps, contested during the tumultuous days following the American invasion of Cambodia and the shootings at Kent State University.
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From PAW, May 18, 1981

Women’s Track: Ahead of the Pack

By Mark J. Sherman ’83

Much like the people charged with delivering the daily mail, it seems that nothing can keep the swift-footed members of the women’s track team from completing their appointed rounds, way ahead of their competition. Head Coach Peter Farrell’s squad handily defeated two opponents in dual meets, easily won the Ivy meet, and qualified a couple of runners for the national championships.

If this all sounds familiar, it should. In three years as a varsity sport, the team has taken the Ivies all three times. And earlier this year, the Tigers won the first running of the indoor Ivy championships as well as the Ivy cross country title.

But Farrell refuses to rest on his laurels. He is, in his own estimation, one of the few Ivy women’s coaches to recruit actively. The annual influx of talented runners has given Princeton substantial depth, enough to make up for the loss through injury of two key performers this spring. Middle-distance runner Eve Thompson ’82 sat out the entire outdoor season, and hurdler Sari Chang ’84 missed the Ivies, but their teammates kept the Tigers well represented in the score sheets. “We could afford a couple of problem spots here and there, because the trademark of this team is balanced scoring,” says Coach Farrell.

The women’s Ivy performance surely stamped the trademark in the minds of their league rivals. In outdistancing runner-up Penn, 159 to 89, Princeton runners brought home seven first-place medals and, more importantly, placed in 18 of 19 events. “We may not win every event or have the top runners, but we score down the line,” Farrell says. Even with 800 meter specialist Thompson out of action, Princeton still captured three of the top six spots in that event.

Despite Farrell’s paean to balance, several of his charges managed to score points in record-breaking times and distances. Sally Andersen ’83 eclipsed her 1980 Ivy mark in the 400 meter intermediate hurdles by two seconds (61.08). Then, taking over for Chang in the 100 meter hurdles, Andersen won in 14.51, a Princeton record. She also ran on the winning quarter-mile and mile relay teams.

Joining Andersen in the winner’s circle for track events were Debbie Schulte ’82 in the 1500 meters and Dawn Booth ’83 in the 400 meters. Both hold either meet or Ivy records in their events. Jane Bennett ’82 finished second in the 200 meter dash and third in the 100.

In the field events, Sue Zywicki ’84’s second-place high jump of 5′ 3 1/2″ set a university record, and Brenda Ziegler ’84 and Nnena Odim ’82 each placed in two events. In the pentathlon Kim Ritchie ’84 set an Ivy record, leading a 1-2-3 Princeton finish that made the meet a runaway.

The Tigers also won the New Jersey Women’s Collegiate meet, beating host Rutgers by six points, 88-82. Andersen captured the intermediate hurdles, Schulte the 1500 meter run, and Monica Egbuono ’84 the 800 meters, bettering her Ivy time by over seven seconds. Ziegler won the shot with a put of 39′ 1 1/2″, and Sue Zak ’82 threw the discus 123′ 2″ for first place.

Still, it was the squad’s ability to concentrate on team goals, according to Farrell, that accounted for much of its success. “Sari was injured two days before the Ivies and Sally [Andersen] stepped in and did a tremendous job,” he says. “She did it because she knew there was a little more of a burden on her without Sari there.”

Andersen qualified for the nationals in Austin, Texas, in the 400 meter hurdles and will be joined by distance runner Nina Zollo ’82, who qualified in the
3000 meter run. Yet Farrell maintains that his athletes do not realize how good they can be individually on the regional and national levels. “We’ve still got a long way to go,” he says. The maturation of this year’s freshmen could provide the coach with the kind of performances he envisions.

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