By Adam Levine
The Framingham State Rams placed third at the MASCAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at Fitchburg State April 29.
Framingham’s Emily Newcomb said, “This year, we were all intrinsically motivated to better ourselves and really dialed in on our training.
“Our team has definitely improved in our mentality. We went from a team running for fun to a team who meant business,” she added.
Framingham finished second the previous weekend at the Regis College Pre-conference Meet April 22.
The Rams earned the top spot in seven different events.
Framingham’s first place finishers were Newcomb in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Meghan Johnston in the 1,500-meter run, Elizabeth Dykstra in the 400-meter hurdles, Alyssa Caputo in the discus throw, Kaylee Beck in both the shot put and hammer throw, and the 4x400-meter relay team, made up of Leah Chace, Ashley Fenton, Brooke Fenton, and Kelsey Gendreau.
In addition to her performance on the 4x400-meter relay team, Ashley Fenton’s time in the 1,500-meter run qualified her for the MASCAC Championships. She said, “Coming off of last week's race, I was three seconds off, so I was very happy to achieve that goal.”
Ashley Fenton said she was injured for most of the season and coming back “stronger” from her injury proved she could overcome it.
A week later, the Rams placed third at the MASCAC Championships.
Beck said, “I truly think every person on this team had something to do with our placing in the MASCAC Championships.”
Framingham earned MASCAC titles in four different events.
Beck finished in first place in both the shot put and hammer throw for the second weekend in a row, claiming two MASCAC titles. Beck’s shot put throw qualified her for the DIII All-New England Meet May 5-6.
Beck became the second-ever Ram to qualify for DIII All-New England’s. She said, “Qualifying for New England’s is something I have been really pushing for all season and now it finally happened after all the work my coaches and myself have put in all year round.”
Beck said she “screamed with enjoyment,” when the distance was called out. She said, “I couldn’t contain my excitement and jumped into my teammate Alyssa’s arms celebrating."
Caputo, the first Ram to qualify for DIII New England’s, said, “I especially want to mention that I knew Kaylee had it in her to make it this far with me and I am extremely excited she did.”
Casey McAuliffe finished first in the 10,000-meter run and finished with a time of 39:41.72. This qualified her for both DIII All-New England’s May 5-6 and the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Championships May 12-13.
McAuliffe became the third-ever Ram to qualify for DIII All-New England’s. She said, “This was a huge accomplishment for me, my teammates, and my coaches because everyone played a role in this run.
“This season showed me that anyone is capable of anything if you are willing to put the work in,” she added.
Newcomb defended her 2022 MASCAC Title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a first-place finish.
She said, “I was ecstatic to defend my steeplechase title this past weekend. There was some great competition and I knew I had my work cut out for me, which made winning it even more rewarding.
“It also feels nice to go out on top,” Newcomb added.
Beck, McAuliffe, and Newcomb were all named to the MASCAC All-Conference Team for their performances at the MASCAC Championships.
Framingham was predicted to place fifth out of six teams at the MASCAC Championships, according to the 2023 MASCAC Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Preseason Poll March 22.
Head Coach Scott VanderMolen said, “I think seeing the fifth place ranking at the beginning of the year, we kind of knew we were going to be better than that.
“It was definitely sort of a chip on our shoulder throughout the season,” he added.
Caputo said, “I think it’s an incredible feeling to show the MASCAC that we are a competitive school.
“I think being ranked fifth out of sixth really made our team want to prove them wrong and come out at the championship and win,” she added.
VanderMolen said the outdoor track and field program formed five years ago, but competitions have only taken place three of those years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We're surprising people, and they don't really expect us to do as well as we do.
He added the athletes are “starting to put themselves on the map.”
The Rams send Beck, Caputo, McAuliffe and a 4x800-meter relay team of Newcomb, Johnston, Gwen Madden and Olivia Poole to compete at DIII All-New England’s May 5-6.
VanderMolen said, “We're really just trying to stay sharp, stay healthy and rested going into the New England Championships.”
Caputo said, “Heading into New England’s this weekend, there’s definitely a lot of emotions running through my brain.
“Whatever happens, happens,” she said, “and I am just glad I get this opportunity to compete at New England’s considering not many people have made it this far.”
Caputo said, “This week, we are really focusing on the nitty-gritty parts of my technique to perfect it before Saturday.”
McAuliffe said, “This week, I plan to still train with the same mindset that I have done all season - compete and work.”
Beck added, “To prepare for this New England’s meet, I am going to be working on some footwork drills, hitting the weight room, and focusing on having fun.”
Newcomb, who is graduating this spring, said, “I’m so proud to be a part of the very beginning of this blossoming team.
“Expect great things from these girls, I leave this team in good hands after graduation,” she added.