The women’s indoor track and field team started the season strong, earning first and second place in its first two past home invitationals, respectively. On January 12, the Polar Bears scored 176 points, far surpassing WPI (146) in second place. A week later, Bowdoin (131) trailed first place MIT (170) in the second Bowdoin Invitational.
The third Bowdoin Invitational will be run this Saturday and the competition this year promises to be even more intense, as teams seek experience on Bowdoin’s track, in anticipation of DIII Championships which will take place at Bowdoin on February 23.
“[Head Coach Peter Slovenski] told us to [think of] these three meets as the best practice of the week,” said captain Samantha Schaefer ’19. The team’s performance is expected to peak around February, when the major competitions take place.
Although the team has a heavy race schedule, athletes are glad to stay so close to home.
“Home meets are valuable opportunities for our team,” Slovenski wrote in an email to the Orient. “We have an amazing field house, and it’s the best place to get qualifying marks.”
Home meets also provide athletes with an opportunity to recover during the busy season.
“It’s really nice to be able to walk back [to] your room instead of having to hop on a bus for six hours,” captain Julia O’Rourke ’19 said. “It’s just a lot easier mentally to prepare when you’re at home than it is when you are in a hotel room somewhere.”
“For the women, we might only have one home meet outdoors, so that’ll really be a different dynamic. We’re really trying to make the most of our hosting capacity of the indoor season,” she added.
While a number of juniors left this semester to study abroad, the ones who returned are in shape and ready to compete.
“I think we’ve been impressed with how in shape they are … that’s really a huge plus going into more competitive meets,” O’Rourke said.
Building on its early wins, the team has its sights set on more accomplishments in the future.
“We are always trying to win the State Meet and place among the top three in the NESCAC Championship,” wrote Slovenski. “I think we have the talent and the depth to reach those goals.”
In addition, the team hopes its top individuals and relay teams will qualify for the NCAA Championship Meet in March. If selected, the Distance Medley Relay team can defend its national championship at the meet in Boston.
“We’re not taking [success] for granted, but we’re using it as momentum going forward and gain a lot of confidence in our overall team performances,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke commended the team’s first-year members for their passion and positive attitudes. “It’s been super important for our team culture this year and for our strengths as a team going into the big competitions,” she said.
Additionally, Schaefer said the team has benefitted from new coaching hires in throwing and sprint events.
“I think with the new coaching staff we got over the past few years, we’ve seen a tremendous improvement … not only technique-wise, but also mentality-wise,” said Schaefer. “I think we have a really solid team, more solid than we’ve seen in our four years.”
The Polar Bears will compete in the third Bowdoin Invitational in Farley Field House tomorrow followed by the Bowdoin-hosted Maine State Track Meet on February 1.