WORCESTER, Mass. - The Navy women's track and field team won the 2012 Patriot League Outdoor Championship this weekend at Holy Cross' Hart Field. Navy won four events, took second-place in eight events and garnered 156.5 team points to top the eight-team field. Bucknell took second place with 133.5 points and Lehigh was third with 118 points.
"We could not be more proud of our girls and we couldn't be happier," said head coach Carla Criste, who earned her fifth Patriot League Coach of the Year award. "It was a great meet all around and it was probably the greatest comeback we've ever had."
Navy sat in fourth place after the first day of the league meet on Friday and fell to fifth after the first two events on Saturday, but the Mids kept climbing up the standings and eventually moved into first place late in the day after the high jump and shot put results were added to the team scores.
Senior Jess Palacio earned her fourth Patriot League Track-Athlete of the Meet award and her third straight at the outdoor league meet after winning both the 800m and the 1,500m, raising her career track title amount to 11.
Palacio won the 800m run with a Patriot League Championship meet record time of 2:08.69 (ECAC), the fourth best time in school history. Earlier in the day, Palacio won the 1,500m run with a time of 4:25.36 (ECAC), the sixth-best time in school history. Palacio owns the school records in both events.
"Jess had just an amazing day to win the 1,500 then come right back and win the 800 with a new meet record," Criste said.
Including Friday's runner-up finish in the 4x800m relay, Palacio accounted for 28 team points.
Navy's 4x400m relay team punctuated the team title with a first-place showing of 3:48.86 (ECAC) in the last event of the championship. The time was the fifth-best in school history. The 4x400m relay team was comprised of freshman Sarah Bernhardt, senior Colleen McFadden, senior Mansfield Murph and junior Natasha Druggan.
A key part of Navy's comeback on Saturday was the high jump, where Navy took spots 1-2-5. Sophomore Veronica Ffrench won the high jump with a clear of 5-7 (1.70m, ECAC), for her second high jump league title. Junior Kristin Smith placed second in the event with a clear of 5-5 (1.65m) and senior Christine Scales was fifth at 5-3 (1.60m).
"Veronica did amazing to win the high jump and Kristin was also great in coming over right after running the hurdles to clear 1.65 meters for second place," said Criste.
Navy also scored big points in the shot put, going 2-3-4 in the event. Senior captain Amanda Phelps was the runner-up with a mark of 43-10¾ (13.38m), sophomore Teronda Brown was third (43-2½, 13.17m) and sophomore Lauren Allam was fourth (41-7¾, 12.69m).
Allam also took second place in the discus to earn All-Patriot League Second Team honors. Allam posted a mark of 151-9 (46.25m, ECAC) and sophomore Maressa Guynn was third with a distance of 150-8 (45.93m, ECAC), her personal record. Guynn also scored on Friday in the hammer. Brown took sixth place in the discus with a 146-1 (44.52m, ECAC).
Senior Ashley Aitken was second in the 100m hurdles at 14.47, earning her third career All-Patriot League Second Team accolade.
Junior Melanie Sluzewicz placed second in the heptathlon with a 4556 points, the sixth-best total in school history, in just her first ever heptathlon. On the second day of heptathlon events, Sluzewicz recorded the second-best long jump (17-8¼, 5.39m), the second-best 800m run (2:30.93) and the third-best javelin throw (101-9, 31.02m).
Kristin Smith, having to break up her competition in the high jump to compete in the 400m hurdles, placed third in the event with a time of 1:03.22, her personal record.
Junior Jessica Ridgway placed second in the finals of the 100m dash with a time of 12.28.
Navy's 4x100m relay team of McFadden, Ffrench, Smith and Ridgway took third place with a time of 47.17 (ECAC), the third-best time in Navy history. Earlier this season, the same quartet broke the school record in the 4x100m (47.06).
Murph also placed fourth in the 400m dash at 57.32 and junior Natasha Druggan was fifth at 57.37, both clocking season-best times.
Navy's senior class will go down as the most accomplished in school history. The Class of 2012 went 8-0 against Army in indoor and outdoor Star Meets and won the 2009 and 2011 Patriot League Indoor Championships and the 2012 Patriot League Outdoor Championship.
This is Navy's second Patriot League outdoor team title and its fifth overall.
Navy will next send its qualified athletes to the ECAC Championship next weekend in Princeton.