Last weekend, the men’s and women’s track and field teams both found themselves in limbo. For the first time in program history, both teams finished in first-place ties at the Maine State Championship meets on Saturday night,. The result was especially exciting for the women’s team, who broke Bates’ six-year win streak in the competition.
Farley Field House played host to an exciting meet with the extremely unusual result. The Polar Bears found themselves pitted against Bates, the University of Southern Maine (USM) and Colby at the state championship meet. Although the event had originally been scheduled to be held at USM, a variety of factors, including weather, resulted in a venue shift to Bowdoin.
“The atmosphere was wild. It was packed,” said runner Ajay Olson ’23. “Our teammates created a wall around the last curve, like a tunnel of cheering. It’s pretty intense. It really helps you though. It’s really motivating, especially for me. … It helps me out at the end.”
After a hotly contested evening in which neither Bowdoin nor Bates could pull away from the other, the men’s and women’s teams both finished with exceptionally rare ties.
Surprised by the exceedingly uncommon result, Track and Field Head Coach Peter Slovenski wrote in an email to the Orient: “There has never been a tie in the previous 52 years of this meet. One meet previously had been decided by one point. But this was the first tie in history.”
A number of remarkable individual performances led to the women’s win. In the field events, Belinda Saint Louis ’21 put together a very impressive evening, earning key victories in the shot put and weight throw events. Brittney McKinley ’21 claimed first place in both the 60-meter and 200-meter events, running times of 7.86 and 25.86 seconds, respectively. Likewise, Caroline Shipley ’20 won both the 1000-meter and one-mile events, pulling away from her competition with times of 3:05.76 and 5:04.89, respectively.
As a senior, Shipley has gained some perspective on the in-state rivalry between Bowdoin and other Maine-based schools from her four years of experience running with the program. After having seen the Bates women’s team take the state championship every year she had been with the team, Shipley took special pride in last weekend’s result.
“I hate to love them, love to hate them, something like that,” said Shipley. “I was thrilled because we broke a six-year winning streak for them.”
The men’s side featured a number of standout performances as well. In the field portion of the evening, Ryan Durkin ’22’s 4.55-meter pole vault won him first place, as did Huma Dadachanji ’20’s 13.90-meter triple jump and Cheng Xing ’23’s 6.88-meter long jump. Troy Greene ’22 claimed victory in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.02 seconds, while Olson won the 400-meter dash in 51.08 seconds. In addition to an exceptional performance in the 400-meter relay, Mateo Rivera ’22 also won the 600-meter event with a time of 1:22.28.
“All across the board, there were some great performances. I think that in [nearly] every event, people did better than they were seeded,” said Olson.
In one of the evening’s most exciting events, Luca Ostertag-Hill ’20 emerged victorious from a highly competitive mile race, posting a sensational 4:29.69 time.
“The mile was one of the most memorable races I’ve seen in 30 years. There were so many lead changes and exciting surges by the runners. Luca showed a lot of intelligence and grit to win that race,” Slovenski wrote.
Fueled by last weekend’s result, Shipley is optimistic about the remainder of the season.
“We are a team that is top five caliber in Division III. And so I think after the dust settles on the excitement this weekend we’re going to reorient towards making that happen,” said Shipley.
Both track and field squads will head to Boston University today to participate in the Dave Hemery Invitational.