Palmer wins New England title
Facing the best New England athletes from Divisions I, II, and III last weekend in the Open New England Championships at Boston University, the Bowdoin Women's Indoor Track Team left with a new school record, a national-qualifier, and several seasonal best performances.
First-year Neoma Palmer, a cross country All-American, won the 5000-meter in 17:25.20, a time that provisionally qualified her for nationals and currently ranks her as the sixth-fastest Division III woman in the country. Palmer was also the first Bowdoin athlete to win an event at an All-New England championship in the past ten years.
"Neoma had an intelligent and strong race," co-captain Jane Cullina '04 said. "Riding off of the top runners for the majority of the 25 laps, she then pulled ahead with enough time to get a solid lead."
Seeded 15th, Palmer was scheduled to run in the slower of two heats of the 5K until the meet directors combined the sections. Palmer ran with the front pack for the entire race, running negative splits to pull away at the end.
"I felt great during my race. I was expecting it to be really painful and difficult, but the race never got too uncomfortable," said Palmer. "My goal going into the race was to run a 17:30, but I thought my time would probably be even slower than that."
"Since the automatic qualifying time for the 5K for nationals is 17:10, and the provisional time is 17:55, I wanted to get at least a 17:30 to try to get a shot at nationals," said Palmer.
"I guess I was selling myself short," she continued, "since the race did not feel too fast. Since I felt so strong in this past 5K, my goal for nationals, if I do indeed qualify, is to run right around 17 minutes or just under."
Although nationals holds a 5K, it does not run a 3K, otherwise Ellen Beth '05 would be a strong contender. Beth has improved her time in the 3K virtually every week this season, and last weekend she set both her personal record as well as the school record with her ninth-place finish in 10:07.16.
True to form, Beth went out in last place and moved up throughout the race. "I didn't think much about my goals going into the race, but when I saw that I was with so many fast girls I figured I better run hard or else I'd look silly," says Beth. "So I just relaxed, and didn't think much and followed people, which turned out really well for me. I was really surprised to hear my time."
Her own modesty aside, Beth has repeatedly proven herself to be among the best distance runners in New England in cross country as well as track.
"Ellen, as usual, ran smart, and has continued to get faster with each meet," says Cullina. "Knowing how intensely [the distance runners] train and the kind of guts it takes to race so many laps on the track, I can't help but be in awe."
The middle-distance, sprinter, and field events women proved themselves powerful competitors last weekend as well.
On Friday night, the Distance Medley Relay team of Kala Hardacker '04, Gina Campelia '07, Cullina, and Gessy LePage '07 finished fifth in their heat of ten teams. Their time of 12:38.03, a season best, placed them 14th overall out of 19 teams.
Cullina and Hardacker also combined to run the leadoff and anchor legs of the 4x800-meter relay on Saturday. In her characteristic style, Cullina started off in last place, and climbed into second place when she handed off to teammate Allie Yanikoski '06, who in turn passed the baton to Lynne Davies '04.
Hardacker crossed the finish line in second place. The women's time of 9:42.29 placed them 11th overall out of 16 teams.
The 4x400-meter relay team also earned a respectable place, finishing 14th out of 21 teams in 4:03.56, its fastest time this season.
Kat Martens '04, Hackert, Campelia, and Katie Walker '05 battled with Williams, Mount Holyoke, Sacred Heart, Holy Cross, and UVM to finish fourth in their heat, often forced to run in the second lane because the pack was so tight.
"Facing the toughest competition in New England, every Bowdoin woman showed extreme fire and resolve this weekend," said Cullina. Aside from Nationals, the qualifying standards for this meet were the toughest out of all the meets this season, and Bowdoin sent several relay teams and individual athletes.
Both Louise Duffus '07 and Laura Perovich '05 represented Bowdoin in the throwing events. Duffus threw 36'10.25" in the shot put, while Perovich's best performance in the weight throw was 41'04.25."
Sprinters Erin Prifogle '07 and Kate Halloran '07 also competed last weekend. Prifogle cleared the 55-meter hurdles in 9.16, while Halloran completed the 55-meter dash in 7.54, both barely missing the semi-finals.
Walker also competed individually at BU, also barely missing the finals of the 800-meter with her time of 2:18.61. Walker was 12th out of the 20 runners in the trials, and the top ten runners advanced to finals.
However, Walker's time would have placed her seventh in the finals, and was less than half a second from the provisional qualifying standard for Nationals.
When the points were tallied, Bowdoin finished 18th out of 31 teams, behind only four other Division III teams (Williams, Wheaton, Bates, and Tufts) and ahead of several Division I teams.
Tonight, starting at 6:00 p.m. and tomorrow Bowdoin will host the ECAC championships for both men and women, the final meet of the season for most athletes.
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