The men’s and women’s track and field teams have performed well in the recent weeks, with both teams coming in first overall in this past weekend’s Bowdoin Invitational III and bringing an impressive showing at the BU John Thomas Terrier Classic.
Highlights from last weekend include four top-four finishes in the men’s mile event, with Sean MacDonald ’19 running an impressive 4:15.6 time, and a new school record set in the women’s distance medley relay run by Claire Traum ’21, Caroline Shipley ’20, Sara Ory ’19 and Sarah Kelley ’18. Additionally, in the most recent USTFCCCA Division III rankings released on Tuesday, the men’s and women’s teams were ranked 20th and 24th in the nation, respectively.
“This was a great invitational because some of the teams that were coming out were a little bit less competitive than [our earlier meet] with MIT and Tufts. There was a more relaxed vibe to it, and it allowed some of the underclassmen to really shine, and I think people had an opportunity to get a lot of [personal records]. Overall, people had a really good day,” said Kelley.
First year Belinda Saint Louis was a multiple winner, setting a personal record in the weight throw (12.89m) while also placing first in the shot put. Another notable achievement came from Erin Hollenbaugh ’20, who took first place in the 1,000 meter (3:15.01) and mile (5:22.55) events. All of this recent success is particularly exciting as both teams prepare for the state championship which will be held at Bates this weekend.
“As a team we [are focusing] on the state meet next weekend the most … because it is our rivalry meet with Bates, Colby and USM,” said Liam Nicoll ’18. “Especially for indoor, this is our biggest meet as a team and we want to outperform the other teams by as much as we can. This is a rivalry that has been ongoing for such a long time versus Bates. Recently it’s been very back and forth, so this meet we really want to prove ourselves as being the one on top.”
Other contributing factors to both teams’ impressive early seasons are their collaboration and positive group dynamics. In particular, the men’s team this year is employing a rather unique leadership strategy where instead of the traditional singular captain role, it instead has a “council of leaders,” a result of the large number of seniors who have been on the team since the beginning.
“We have this group of 10 guys, and we’re such good friends,” said Nicoll. “What makes us so unique this year is that we have perspectives from every person. Leadership for us isn’t just, ‘Oh that guy performs well for us,’ it is about fostering unity within our team … It’s us solidly standing together and saying let’s all combine and give all of our energy for the common goal.”
Kelley echoed this sentiment.
“I’ve gotten so much closer to the women in the junior class and even the sophomores and first years that I don’t know,” she said. “[Track has] definitely pushed me to get to know other people.”
Both teams are competing in the state championship this weekend at Bates. The women’s team will compete on Friday evening at 6 p.m. before the men’s team heads to Bates for its state meet on Saturday night at 6 p.m.