With a blistering time of 47.28 seconds at the UMass Invitational last weekend, the Big Green women’s 4×100-meter relay team broke a school record that had stood since 1987.
As impressive as this feat would be on its own, perhaps the most impressive part of that accomplishment is that the unit is made up of four freshmen: Toni Aguiar ’16, Sara Kikut ’16, Anna Kikut ’16 and Jennifer Meech ’16.
“We had no idea that we had run fast,” Sara Kikut said. “It was the first pass so I could see it and I just thought oh no this is going to go so poorly.”
Despite the shaky first hand-off, they finished in record time, breaking the previous mark by .14 seconds.
“They’re a very close-knit team,” head coach Sandra Ford-Centonze said. “It’s been a lot of fun watching them this season, getting closer, breaking the record and having a good time.”
Aguir runs the first leg, Sara and Anna Kikut, twin sisters who also ski for the Big Green, run the middle two legs and Meech anchors the team.
Ford-Centonze looks for someone, typically a shorter person, with a strong start and who can negotiate the curves for the first leg. A runner with a lot of power, who is a little stronger and taller runs the second leg. The third leg runner may not be as strong taking off, but can build speed throughout the curves and finish strong. Lastly the anchor is a strong fast runner.
“Jen is a little bit taller so she can navigate the straight,” Ford-Centonze said.
In trying to decide between the two Kikut sisters, Ford-Centonze asked what they had done in the past.
“They were used to Sara handing off to Anna,” she explained. “In my mind, if the chemistry is already there, it makes sense to keep them. The familiarity to running second is very important. You look for something that they are comfortable with and not trying to change a great deal but also at the same time.”
Sara Kikut and Anna Kikut said they enjoy the benefits of competing with each other.
“It’s been fun racing with my sister because we’ve been doing it all our lives,” Anna Kikut said. “We know each other so well that it comes second nature when we are out there on the track.”
Not everything comes easily to the sisters on the track.
“It’s funny because I think that most people think that because they’re twins, that there’s some kind of special connection beyond just one handing off to the other,” Ford- Centonze said. “I actually think they have to work the hardest because they have been together all of their lives. They do know each other very well, and sometimes in practice one expects the other to do something else so they have to perform in that way. They do correct each other. They are very competitive.”
Aguiar and Meech ran together on the indoor track team this winter and developed a close relationship.
Ford-Centonze said she appreciates everything the team brings to the competition, including talent and spirit.
“They are four young ladies who like to smile a lot,” Ford-Centonze said. “They are very appreciative of suggestions that I make. I am just so happy and proud of them, especially as freshmen. Assuming they stay healthy, I’m looking forward to a lot of good things from them over the next four years.”
The Kikuts took the top two spots in the 100-meter, with Sarah Kikut earning the win with a 12.41 and Anna Kikut coming in second with a 12.53. Aguiar finished fourth in 12.70.
The sisters had continued success in the 200-meter, with Sarah Kikut taking first in 25.00 and Anna Kikut coming in close second with a 25.51. Aguiar again finished fourth with a 25.90.
The Big Green is preparing for the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships at Princeton University this weekend.
“We’ve learned that we can do even better than we though,” Meech said. “Even with the bad pass this weekend we still had a good time, so I think we can definitely improve this weekend at Heps.”