The Cerberus Shows its Teeth at NCAC Finals
Having rounded the final corner and only feet away from the finish line, the Oberlin track and field team would not be slowed as they entered the North Coast Athletic Conference Championships at Denison University this past weekend.
The Yeowomen, highly rated and expecting at least a third place finish, did not falter in their quest for excellence, and Oberlin’s domination in a multitude of events reverberated around the walls of the Mitchell Recreation and Athletics Center. Ohio Wesleyan, moving with the speed of Mercury, racked up 183 points and the title, but the battle for second place raged on between the Yeowomen and Allegheny College. Unfortunately, six points separated the Yeowomen who fell into third with 106 points, while Allegheny finished with 112. Along with the third place finish, the Yeowomen boasted the Most Valuable Runner in the middle/distance length fields, sophomore Flannery Cerbin.
Cerbin, who won the mile, beating the school and meet record with a time of 5:05.23, came in second in the 800-meter with a time of 2:18.68 and anchored the 4x400 meter relay, which also finished in second. Leading a four-pronged Oberlin pack of runners in the mile, Cerbin won the event .69 seconds ahead of fellow sophomore Maddy Davis-Hayes. Following Davis-Hayes by seven seconds, sophomore Nicky Ouellet finished third. Senior Barrie Newberger finished in fourth with a time of 5:12.91.
It would be wrong to fail to mention that the next closest runner, Ohio Wesleyan’s Catie Coleman, finished over seven seconds behind Newberger, thus demonstrating Oberlin’s true dominance in the event. This amazing group grabbed an astounding 29 points in one event, more than one quarter of the Yeowomen’s total.
The 800-meter run had a similar feel to it as Cerbin spearheaded another Oberlin charge along with Ouellet and Newberger. The three crossed the finish line one after the other. Only Ohio Wesleyan’s Sarah Shinn finished faster, claiming first place .69 seconds ahead of Cerbin. This run nabbed another incredible total of 19 points for the Yeowomen, who clearly came to establish dominance with their sophomore and senior entourage in the middle and long distance.
Cerbin also anchored the 4x400-meter relay that saw first-years Clara Shaw and Madeline Schultz, along with Ouellet, snag second place points, falling behind only Ohio Wesleyan. Davis-Hayes had a barn burner of a 3000-meter run, narrowly crossing the tape .01 seconds ahead of Denison University’s Christine Collins, finishing with a time of 10:32.11. According to Cerbin, this was everything that the team was “expecting to accomplish. We got third and it can only get better from here.”
The three-headed Cerberus of sophomores Cerbin, Davis-Hayes and Ouellet dominated its events, racking up 48 points between the three of them in individual events. However, someone who also deserves recognition is senior Ariane Burwell, who collected fifth place finishes in the 3000 and 5000-meter runs, helping the Yeowomen earn eight points.
Noteworthy Yeowomen performances also include the distance medley relay team, made up of junior Alex Petek, first-years Hannah Callon and Krista Rynkowski and the anchor of Burwell. Grabbing ten massive points for the Yeowomen was an astounding feat as the quartet controlled the relay, finishing in first place five seconds ahead of Ohio Wesleyan.
Unfortunately, the field events did not go as smoothly for the Yeowomen as Ohio Wesleyan and Allegheny placed a lead foot over the gas pedal and shifted into fifth gear, motoring toward points at every chance. Still, the Yeowomen would not simply fall into an infinite abyss. They clawed points into the team’s total with great showings in the pole vault and triple jump.
In the pole vault, sophomore Kirsten Hansen-Day elevated herself to a height of nine feet, good enough for fourth place and five points. Also, first-year Deni Goodrich-Schlenker and junior Deysi Villarreal finished seventh and eighth, respectively, good enough for an additional three points to add to the Yeowomen’s total. In the triple jump, junior Bronwen Davies hopped, stepped and leapt to a seventh place finish with a score of 9.78 meters, good enough for two points.
Usurping the competition and beginning to build a reputation that strikes fear into competition, the middle and long distance runners for the Yeowomen showed great promise and amazing depth in ability. Reflecting on receiving her MVP award, Cerbin, who spoke with the voice of someone who could barely contain her exhilaration, “was happy everything came together. That was a real honor, kind of a shock.”
Although personal accolades are wonderful, it is clear that Cerbin is a team player, wanting to see success, which is only embodied in the form of an NCAC crown. “We’ll come back next year. It will be ours!” Cerbin enthusiastically stated.
The Yeomen, on the other hand, did not have it quite so easy, finishing with 31 points, good enough for eighth place. A disparate performance in both track and field events with mixed results lifted the Yeomen to the total. Specifically, individual performances by junior Cassius Harris in the long jump, junior Cory Myers and sophomore Kyle Taljan in the pole vault, sophomore Ryan King in the mile and team events in the 4x200 meter relay and the distance medley relay raked in the points for the Yeomen.
Harris leapt for an impressive 21’3.75”, eight inches fewer than winner Emmanuel Aouad from Wabash. Myers lifted himself up to a strong showing of 13’8”, eight inches short of Ohio Wesleyan’s Michael Tornifolio, who won the event with an impressive 14’4”. Taljan, vaulting for only his third time this winter, ended up in eighth with a 12’6” showing. King made sure to leave his mark on the record books. Finishing third with a time of 4:22.49, King again broke the Oberlin mile record.
The 4x200 meter relay team with sophomores Edwin Takahashi and Taljan, as well as juniors Cody Hartley and Harris ran a strong race, finished in fourth, clocking in at 1:36.25. The DMR team, boasting King and Taljan, along with sophomore Conor Doss and junior Andrew Higgins, crossed the line in fifth, finishing at 10:49.74.
Ultimately, the championships showed that Oberlin is no longer simply a means for earning points for other teams. The Yeomen have proven that with desire and hard work, they can run with the best that the conference has to offer. The Yeowomen have already set their mark having finished in third place, but next year’s indoor season will be a year where true questions will be asked of the team.
Oberlin looks to continue its success in the outdoor season that starts on March 29 at the Winthrop University Asics Invitational.