The Georgetown women’s track and field team secured third place in the distance medley relay at the Columbia Challenge last weekend and gave several other strong performances in its second meet of the year.

The Hoyas faced unusually stingy competition for this early in the season, according to Director of Track and Field Julie Culley.

“It’s definitely very different. We had teams like University of Oregon, University of Missouri, UConn, some really big programs in track and field,” Culley said. “We had schools we don’t normally see this early in the season”

Given the talented spread of teams, Culley spoke highly of the competition’s early races.

“The Columbia Challenge actually turned out to be a really good meet on the one side, starting off with the hurdles on Friday evening. [Georgetown] had [freshman] Malika Houston run a lifetime best in the 60m hurdles,” Culley said.

Houston’s new personal record of 8.76 seconds put the  hurdler in 12th place.

Freshman hurdler Vickie Milledge, left, and freshman hurdler Malika Houston finished the 60m hurdles with times of 9.05 and 8.76, respectively.

The distance medley relay team, featuring senior Piper Donaghu in the 1200m, senior Jody-Ann Knight in the 400m, freshman Olivia Arizin in the 800m and graduate student Meredith Rizzo in the one-mile leg, clocked in a time of 11:16.28 to secure third place. Culley highlighted Rizzo’s performance, as tendinitis in her knee has interfered with training since December.

“[Rizzo] split 4:45 and then came back and ran 4:48 the next day, and she had a lot of broken training since December, kind of dealing with some tendinitis in her knee. So to kind of see her show that kind of strength right now, that was a really, really nice indicator for her,” Culley said.

Culley was pleased with the finishing time but believes the squad still has room for improvement this season.

“[The finishing time] still puts us about somewhere around 10 or so seconds away from potentially qualifying the distance medley for the national championship, but we’re going to take another crack at it in later February and see if we can put ourselves in that position,” Culley said.

Donaghu later took 15th place in the one-mile race, running within a second of her personal record of 4:45.46.

Although the 200m race did not result in any top-10 finishes for Georgetown’s women, Culley was pleased with the performances she saw.

“[Georgetown] also had a nice run in the 200 with both Jody-Ann Knight and [graduate student] Taylor Williams kind of running against each other for the first time,” Culley said. “Overall it was a really nice meet for the women. We were definitely really pleased coming off the weekend.”

Next weekend, the women’s track and field team will split up between the Boston University Blue & White Invite in Boston and the Villanova Invitational in Staten Island. A small group of sprinters will travel to Villanova while the rest of the team will compete at Boston University.

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