CMS track and field excels at ‘rust-buster’ OIDFE Challenge Meet

CMS and PP runners run on the track.
Laura Zimmer CM ’24, Megan Maley SC ’23 Camille Forte CM ’23 compete in the 800-meter during a meet last year (Hannah Weaver • The Student Life)

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature read a pleasant 65 degrees: a typical January day in Southern California. At Burns Stadium on Jan. 28, the crowd’s eyes might have been drawn to the unusually clear view of the San Gabriel Mountains if the loud crack  of the starting gun hadn’t pulled their attention down to the track where, arms pumping and feet beating on the red compressed rubber, the Athenas sprinted towards the finish line.

Last Saturday, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (CMS) Athenas women’s track and field team hosted its first meet of the season: the Outdoor Indoor Distances and Field Events (OIDFE). Competing against SCIAC rivals, out of conference opponents and even some CMS alumni, the defending conference champion Athenas took first place in the overall rankings.

Despite their dominant performance, many CMS runners described this meet as more of an introduction, especially for the team’s first-timers. Angie Gushue CM ’25, who finished first in the women’s 1-mile run with a time of 5:28, believed the team benefited most from the experience by getting a competition under their belt.

“The team was definitely just going in and having fun and figuring out where we’re at as far as fitness,” Gushue said. “[It was] recognizing that we’re not going to be at our best right now and just creating a baseline for the season.”

Shriya Velichala CM ’26 also came in first place in a tight 400-meter dash race with a time of 1:01, barely beating the next competitor by .11 seconds. She explained the pacing strategy she implemented.

“My main thing was that I wanted to try to get out hard and then also finish strong,” Velichala said. “I think the 400 takes a bit of endurance and I was pretty nervous about whether I had it in me, so I just wanted to get to the finish line, honestly.”

It was also Velichala’s first collegiate meet, something she said made her nervous but was also a shared experience with many of her teammates. 

“Everyone that ran the 400 with me [is] such a supportive group and it was a lot of people’s first time ever too,” Velichala said. “Seeing everyone break out of their shell … was so exciting.”

Another first-timer was Mia Voce SC ’25, who competed in the 4×400 meter relay with Velichala as well as the 200-meter dash. Voce recently walked onto the team, switching over from varsity soccer, which she played as a first-year. 

“I haven’t run track since freshman year of high school,” Voce said. “I was just trying to have fun with it and test it out. I was pretty nervous though. I’m not super happy with how I ran but it was the first time, so I’m glad I ripped the band-aid off and did it.”

Voce said captain Caroline DelVecchio SC ’23 has been a great supporter and role model for everyone, but even more so for the team’s newcomers. DelVecchio, who holds the CMS program record in the 400-meter hurdles and has been decorated with various All-American and All-Academic honors throughout her collegiate career, competed in four events, coming in first in the 60-meter hurdles. She said she was impressed by the new athletes’ poise throughout the whole meet, especially during the 4×400-meter relay, where she was on a team with Voce and Velichala.

“I was pretty happy with my performance in the 4×4,” DelVecchio said. “Two of the runners are new to track and had never run a 4×4, so I was worried they’d go out too fast and burn out on the backstretch, but I was really impressed with their performance.”

It was all in all a successful meet for CMS. Even though it was their first-ever collegiate track experience, the rookies were able to help the team walk away with a first-place finish. The team aims to build off of their strong start throughout the rest of the season, tapping into new athletes’ individual talents while remembering to have fun.

“[The goal is] to keep the momentum going,” Gushue said. “Because track season is long, it can be pretty mentally exhausting, but [it’s important] just remembering why I enjoy it and why I want to be racing.”

The CMS track and field team will next compete when they host their annual alumni meet on Saturday Feb. 4. They will additionally race at the national level on Feb. 10 and 11, with select athletes traveling to invitationals either at Whitworth or Boston University.

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