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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Women’s track and field 4x400 relay competes at NCAA Championships

Mary Elliot '26 ran the second leg of the women's 4x400m relay.
Mary Elliot '26 ran the second leg of the women's 4x400m relay.

The 4x400 relay of the women’s track and field team, composed of Michelle Louie ’24, Anna Krouse ’25.5, Lily Bulczynski ’26 and Mary Elliot ’26, competed in the NCAA Championships this past weekend in Virginia Beach, Va. The team entered the race as the #12 seed and finished in the same spot in the preliminary round on Friday, missing out on a trip to the finals. 

Although the quartet aspired to compete in Saturday’s final, they returned to Middlebury with their heads held high. Their run marked the 19th time the women’s track and field team has appeared at the national meet coming off of an impressive victory at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet, where the relay narrowly triumphed over a strong Johns Hopkins University team to make the championship.

“While the race did not go as well as we had hoped, I think we exceeded all of our expectations just by making it to the national championship and getting to represent Middlebury,” Elliot wrote in an email to The Campus. “The experience of getting to compete at such a high level was incredible, especially given that we didn't think we were going to be able to go at all.”

The trip to Virginia was made all the more exciting after the Panthers were initially told they missed out on the meet, ranking as the 13th fastest team in the nation when the top 12 made the championship. However, following the withdrawal of Ohio Northern University’s team, Middlebury was awarded the final spot in a competitive field.

Matched against three teams with faster qualifying teams in the second heat, the Panthers came out swinging. Louie kicked hard in the final straightaway to hand off the baton level with Washington University, clocking in at 58.34. Elliot picked up where her teammate left off as she sprinted out to an early lead in the second leg, but her competitors measured their effort and overcame her in the final turn. Bulczynski rallied to regain ground in the third leg, finishing her effort in under a minute. Krouse anchored the team and finished fast at 58.27, but was unable to close the gap that had opened to the team’s rivals.

With the curtains closing on a successful indoor track season, the four members of the relay now turn their attention to the outdoor season, which begins next week as the team heads to San Diego for their annual spring break training trip. Elliot hopes that the 4x400 will remain intact when competition resumes. 

“Being a part of such a talented relay was such a gift,” she added. “This spring, we definitely plan to run some more races together, and although nothing is hammered down, we are so excited and the women's 4x4 will definitely continue to be a force going into the outdoor season.”

Charles Crounse

Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.