It was the tale of two meets for the DePauw men's and women's track and field teams on Friday at the Small College Invitational. The invitational marked the beginning of the Tiger's indoor season and their inaugural season in the NCAC.
On the women's side, the Tigers took second behind Bellarmine University with 91 points. Senior Claire Hollis in the mile run with a time of 5:31.45 and the distance medley relay team finished in first place for the Tigers.
"It was really great to see [Hollis] win the mile, especially being a senior," men's and women's head coach Kori Stoffregen said.
"I knew I did not want to take the lead. When the race went out, we were running a pretty comfortable pace and with 600 meters to go I separated myself from the group," Hollis said. "The time was not necessarily very fast, so I was content with the win, but I am hungry to take more time off of my mile time."
The men's team finished fifth out of six with a score of 38 points. Freshman Steven Rutherford was the lone winner for the Tigers, jumping 6.53 meters (21 feet, 5.25 inches) to take first in the long jump. Rutherford also finished seventh in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.3 seconds.
"It was great to get that individual win, but it felt just as nice to score points for the team," Rutherford said. "Our team has been working hard since the fall, even through Winter Term, and it feels good to see that work paying off. It was definitely exciting to get a first place finish in my first collegiate meet."
Other results from the meet were a third place finish from freshman Megan Everhart in the 3,000 meter run and four place finishes from senior captain Sam Wong in the long jump and freshman Pascale Hansen in the pole vault.
On the men's side, two relay teams had top five finishes with the 4x200 meter relay team going for second and the distance medley team finishing fifth.
Sophomore Kyle Mackey also placed third in the pole vault.
Reverse results for the two teams can be attributed to competition. On the men's side, both Rose-Hulman and Wabash are considered strong squads.
"We're up against a lot in that meet; going against two really good teams in Rose-Hulman and Wabash," Stoffregen said. "That really makes it tough."
"We still have a long season ahead of us, and I feel like we'll continue to get better," Rutherford said.
Both teams are playing catch-up as they look to gain on teams that have been practicing almost a month longer than them because of DePauw's Winter Term.
The meet on Friday came after only one week of official practice for Tigers. Stoffregen understands training time, and expectations are still minimal.
The most important part is letting the athletes run and compete at this point.
"We're just jumping into the fire, but we have to do this. We want to try to get the kids going," Stoffregen said.
For the Tigers, these first meets are an opportunity to see what they want to compete in. Both men's and women's teams boast rosters with many new faces, so experimenting at this point of the season is important for athletes to learn what or where their best event is.
"We're a month away from being really effective," Stoffregen said. "We'll be a much better team by conference time."
Hollis shares her coach's attitude, but with a much bolder tone.
"The captains are doing a great job of trying to unify the entire track team, and it will be because of that team unity that we will be able to pull out a conference win," she said.
Both teams have plenty of time and chances to improve before the NCAC Indoor Championships on March 2 at Wabash College.
In that span, both the men's and women's squads have four meets to compete and learn more about themselves.
Both teams will be at home next weekend, Saturday, Feb. 11 for the DePauw Invitational.