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Williams makes do with makeshift practice spots en route to national title

Photo: Gil Talbot / NCAA Photos

Triple jumpers practiced approaches on a raised runway built in the wrestling venue. Pole vaulters rehearsed runups there, too.

Sprinters and hurdlers worked at building acceleration on rubber mats rolled out on the visitors’ side of the ice hockey venue.

At Williams, members of the women’s indoor track and field team sometimes practiced in the great outdoors. Williams College photo

And sometimes, when the Williamstown, Massachusetts, weather cooperated and snow could be removed from the outdoor track, the indoor track and field team just practiced outside.

When it’s indoor track and field season and your facility is being renovated, finding a place to practice can be quite a chore. But the unconventional methods of training didn’t deter Williams from capturing the Division III Women’s Indoor Track and Field Championships this spring.

Even before the win, sixth-year Williams coach Nate Hoey was proud of the way his team handled the adversity of not being able to use Towne Field House. “Knowing that we didn’t have any control over the situation, we focused on what we had in front of us,” Hoey says.

Hoey knows other programs face similar problems regularly, but he was pleased with the way his team adjusted.

“There was no ‘Woe is me’ mentality,” says Hoey, whose team edged Washington University in St. Louis 42-40 in the final standings. “Our team was positive, resilient and brought their best effort each day.”

Williams rallied for its first national title in the sport since 2007 by overcoming a 16-point deficit after the meet’s first of two days. Anna Passannante finished second in the mile and less than an hour later finished second in the 800 meters.

The 4x400-meter relay team of Davis Collison, Ella Dunn, Caitlin Ubl and Megan Powell clinched the championship by finishing fourth to give the Ephs the trophy.

“We had an incredible group of teammates, fans, family and alumni in the stands,” Hoey says. “They were so loud and so supportive. We knew that adversity would show up in the national meet, but we also knew it wouldn’t be anything we hadn’t already faced.”

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.