PASADENA (Feb. 22, 2019) – Led by returning school record holders and experienced upperclassmen, the Caltech women's track & field team is looking to hone its strengths from last year as it looks to take the next step forward in 2019. Coming off their best SCIAC Championship finish since 2014, the Beavers are more hungry than ever to continue their improvements.
"Our goal is to be prepared to compete with anyone in the conference by the time we arrive at the SCIAC Championships," Raphelson said. "We'll have several important meets along the way that will be a key part of that preparation. We're looking forward to being able to showcase our improvements."
Caltech's distance and middle-distance runners will once again be a point of strength for the team this year. Sophomore Claire Hu (Palo Alto, Calif. / Henry M. Gunn) made the podium at last year's SCIAC Championships thanks to a program-record 18:03.90 in the 5000 to finish third behind two athletes who went on to place 1-2 at the NCAA Championships a few weeks later. Hu is also the second-fastest 3000m and fourth-fastest 1500m runner in program history. Classmate Molly Crotteau (Chicago, Ill. / Walter Payton), like Hu, is an accomplished distance specialist with a trio of Caltech top-10 appearances last year. Crotteau ran the 3000m, 5000m, and 3000m Steeplechase last year, recording the fourth-fastest steeplechase time in program history at last year's SCIAC Championships, where she finished in 10th place. The distance group will also feature Caltech's top runner in the 10k last year in junior Skye Reese (Concord, N.H. / Concord) (ninth at SCIAC's), in addition to freshman Alex Bardon (Boston, Mass. / Winsor School), who has improved considerably since her arrival on-campus this fall. Both runners will are joined by juniors Jena Srikanth (Fresno, Calif. / Clovis North) and Nicole Feng (Bethany, Conn. / Amity Regional), sophomore Jessica Ye (Lutherville-Timonium, Md. / Dulaney) and freshmen cross country competitors Natali Lelieur (South Pasadena, Calif. / South Pasadena) and Jamie Littman (Port Washington, N.Y. / Paul D. Schreiber) to round out the distance group.
The middle distance group will play an equally large role in Caltech's ability to score at this year's SCIAC Championships. Senior Michelle Marasigan (Elk Grove Village, Ill. / James B. Conant) will lead the group as she commences the final season of a storied career. The senior specializes in the 800m where she currently ranks 5th on the Caltech All-Time Top-10 list and advanced to the conference finals in the event as a sophomore. Marasigan will be joined by fellow senior Melissa Gutierrez (Pico Rivera, Calif. / El Rancho) and sophomore cross country veteran Krystal Brodsky (Redmond, Wash. / Bellevue College), both of whom have an excellent chance to make an impact in the 1500m at the conference level and rank in the Caltech All-time Top-10 in the 800m and 1500m. Sophomore Sirisha Gudavalli (Boulder, Colo. / Fairview) is also looking to compete at a high level and rounds out the group.
Nora Griffith (Santa Cruz, Calif. / Santa Cruz) is set to front the Beavers in the sprint and hurdle events for the second time in as many years. The sophomore enjoyed a highly successful rookie season which included a pair of program records in the 200m dash and 400m hurdles. Griffith also came within a four-tenths of a second of setting records in three other events: The 100m dash, 400m dash, and 100m hurdles. If the sophomore can continue to improve, it will go a long way towards helping the Beavers' conference standing while adding to what has already been a historic start to her career. Griffith will be joined in the sprint events by freshman Moya Ly (Cincinnati, Ohio / Cincinnati Country Day).
Senior thrower Muskaan Goyal (Apple Valley, Minn. / Eastview) will be one of the three captains of this year's men's and women's teams and has received praise for her work ethic and enthusiasm, the former of which is evident in her recent run of results. Goyal has stood out as one of Caltech's most improved throwers since originally debuting and has already recorded a new PR in the hammer throw by more than a full meter at the Pomona-Pitzer All-Comers meet. Three-sport athlete Alexa Lauinger (Ortonville, Mich. / Brandon) will be a factor in all four throwing events having after advancing to the finals at last year's SCIAC Championships in the hammer throw and javelin. The two returners will be joined by rookie Antonia Liu (Tenafly, N.J. / Bergen County Academies), an accomplished discus thrower who will also contest the other throws.
"Every individual performance in a meet is an extension of the team environment that created it," Raphelson said. "When we have record-breakers like Claire and Nora performing well, we can trace that to the hard work they put in but also the environment in which that work took place. Everyone on the team contributes to that and everyone has an opportunity to draw from it to fuel their own training and competing. When it's done well it can lead to huge improvements and surprising results."
Raphelson and the Beavers will continue the outdoor season on Saturday, Feb. 23 when they travel to the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges-hosted Rossi Relays. The first SCIAC Multi-Dual is scheduled for Saturday, Mar. 2 at Pomona-Pitzer.