In a full squad effort, the women’s track and field team won the Maine State Championship for the first time in 10 years. Hosted at Bates College, Bowdoin placed first out of eight teams, including rivals Bates and Colby College, to claim the title last Saturday. The team hopes to capitalize on the momentum from the state crown this weekend at the Valentine’s Invitational in Boston.
“There were a lot of happy tears when they called our name and the team ran to get the trophy,” Head Coach LJ Que said. “For us to win this title after ten years of not winning, it is so special, especially for our senior class of women who faced so much adversity from [Covid-19].”
Bowdoin earned 186.3 points, while Bates and Colby trailed with 173 and 159.6 points, respectively. Last year, the squad earned a third place finish. In 2019, Bowdoin lost to Bates by nine points, and in 2020, the Polar Bears tied the Bobcats to share the state title.
The win was especially significant for captain Leila Trummel ’23.
“When I came in as a first year, the state meet was the most important meet of the season,” Trummel said. “[The 2020 meet] was almost a win but wasn’t quite a perfect win, and everyone reflected on that day like there was something we could’ve done differently. Since then, I’ve really wanted to win.”
The meet was tightly contested, and Bowdoin did not know who the winner was until after the final event.
Kianne Benjamin ’24 won the George Towle Award for the top performance of the meet after coming in first place in the 60m and the 200m. She also participated in the long jump and anchored the 4x800m.
“It was unreal. I already know we are champions. I don’t need a Maine State Meet to tell me we are champions, but … I was high on adrenaline the rest of the day,” Benjamin said. “I really put my whole heart out there on the track. I really love this sport.”
Benjamin was grateful to compete this year after being injured this time last season. She also found inspiration in her teammates.
“My teammates who were not necessarily competing because of injuries … their support, screaming and cheering words of encouragement were invaluable and really special and needed,” Benjamin said.
Many members of the team found success on Saturday. The Polar Bears were also propelled by Trummel, who won the 800m, and Lauren Traum ’24, who finished first in the 1000m. In her season debut, Abby Mueller ’24 won the 3000m. Que noted how Jenna Albanese ’24, Gracie Scheve ’25, Fiona Gallagher ’26 and Thando Khumalo ’23 all received more points than anticipated in their respective events.
“It was this beautiful combination of teammates performing as they should, as well as teammates exceeding themselves and having personal bests in their events,” Que said.
Trummel added that such accomplishments do not come easy.
“My legs on that third lap just burned so badly,” she said. “I knew I wasn’t fresh, but it’s a lot more in those moments about what I am going to leave on the track, like thinking about how badly I want this, and leaning into the pain. It hurts, but I am doing it for my team because I want to win because I want my team to win.”
In the field events, Charlotte Hodge ’25 won the pole vault for the second straight year.
“The excitement was really high, and I think that excitement turned into good performances at the meet,” Hodge said.
The Polar Bears have four more meets, including the invitational in Boston this weekend, before qualifying individuals will compete at the NCAA DIII Indoor Championships on March 10.
Benjamin believes that with this year’s team dynamic and energy will help push them through the rest of the season.
“We have the best hype squad in the NESCAC. The thing that really got us through it was knowing our teammates were going to support us through it all, with heart and spirit and fight,” Benjamin said.