Emily Sheffield '06 is one of the top middle-distance runners in New England, but you would never guess that from talking to her.

"She's got a terrific sense of perspective and humility. She's an old school athlete," Bowdoin cross country and track coach Peter Slovenski.

However, the senior's humility off the track dwarfs her success on it. Sheffield has dominated opponents all season long, running and winning everything from the 400 through 1000 meters. Her skill across a broad spectrum of events has added tremendous depth and strength to Bowdoin track.

"Emily makes us a better team with her range as a runner. She has the speed to be an All-New England runner at everything [she runs]," Slovenski added.

Sheffield began running when she was in eighth grade. Sheffield also played field hockey and basketball in high school, but she decided to focus solely on running when she arrived at Bowdoin.

In her first year, Sheffield ran cross country and two seasons of track. Although Sheffield left the trails after her first year of cross country, she continues to compete in both indoor and outdoor track.

"I wasn't a long distance runner," she said.

Sheffield believes that her work ethic and dedication to Bowdoin track stems more from the notion of "running for the team" than competing for personal success, a feeling she attributes to the close bonds her teammates have formed with one another.

"I love the girls on the team," she said.

This indoor track season has been Sheffield's most successful. Despite training tirelessly during the off-season, she credits her achievement to a more relaxed, focused approach to competing.

"I just don't put as much pressure on myself as I used to. There is no point in getting anxious or nervous. I just go out there and run," she said.

Sheffield has run many impressive races this season. Two weeks ago, Sheffield sped to an amazing 1:37.83 finish in the 600 meters, breaking the school record.

At the Maine State Meet, Sheffield won the 800 meters, running an impressive 2:20.37. Just last weekend at the Division III New Englands, she shaved more than four seconds off her already impressive time.

Slovenski recognizes her mental composure and strategy.

"Emily never gets rattled, and she makes intelligent moves during her races. She's fearless and daring, and has a great finishing kick," he added.

Sheffield has also been a strong role model for the team's younger runners. First-year Lindsey Schickner, who also runs middle distance, is grateful for the advice she has received from her friend and teammate.

"I really admire her for her hard work and talent. She is proof that dedication pays off. She gives me race strategies and says that the most important way to do well is to stay relaxed and confident," Schickner said.

Sheffield, an anthropology major, isn't sure how running will shape her plans after graduation.

"I'd like to eventually run a marathon, or train for a triathlon," she said.

Nonetheless Sheffield is looking forward to a chance to catch her breath.

"After the spring season, I'm going to be ready to take a break," she said.