The men’s and women’s track and field teams journeyed to Boston University last weekend to compete in the New England Division III Indoor Championships, their last scoring meet before the Division III National Championships in Birmingham, Ala. Individual Polar Bears saw personal records (PRs) fall, and Charlotte Hodge ’25, Kianne Benjamin ’24 and Ajay Olson ’23 put themselves in prime positions to be selected to compete at Nationals next weekend. Other competitors will race at the Last Chance Meet at Tufts University this weekend and try to land a spot at Nationals.
The men placed fifth out of 35 teams, and the women finished sixth out of 42 teams, which were in line with their positioning at last year’s championships. This showing was complemented by strong performances from Hodge, who won the women’s pole vault for the second year in a row, and the women’s 4x400m relay team of Katherine Page ’23, Gabby Phillips ’24, Cianna O’Flaherty ’23 and Benjamin, which also won its event.
“The New England Division III has just exploded in how much more competitive it has gotten,” Head Coach LJ Que said. “So many New England performances from all over the region are Nationals bound, so seeing how competitive the region has become, I thought we did really great as a team. We got top six performances.… We had a great meet overall across all event groups.”
The throw side of both teams also had a strong showing. Emma Hargreaves ’23 set a new PR in the weight throw to take second place overall. Inga Dovre ’25 placed seventh in the women’s pentathlon. On the men’s side, Ian Stebbins ’25 earned a school-record 4,558 points to take second place in the heptathlon, and Dov McGuire-Berk ’24 placed sixth.
“It was very funny to see [Assistant Coach Matthew Harmon], our throws coach, so excited all day because there were some pretty great successes. The entire meet kept rolling on the throw side,” Hargreaves said. “I was the last one of the throw squad to compete for the day, and I rode [the other throwers’] energy up to a really nice throw.”
Hodge was glad to see her hard work come to fruition over the weekend.
“I’ve been making a lot of improvements in practice, and I was really hoping and looking forward to seeing that translate into competitions. It hadn’t quite until last week,” Hodge said. “It felt so good to see all the technical improvements I’ve made in practice translate to competition.”
Que added that being able to compete at the Boston University track, regarded as one of the best in the world, helped put the team in a competitive mindset. The men’s and women’s teams competed simultaneously next to each other and were able to cheer each other on.
Hodge recalled seeing her teammate Nick Sibiryakov ’25 hit a PR in the pole vault right before she won her own competition.
“I saw him do that, and then I hit mine. It was really fun to share that with the team,” Hodge said.
Lauren Traum ’24, a long distance sprinter, emphasized how watching teammates succeed encouraged others to perform their best.
“I remember we were a little nervous going into the 4×800, and we stopped our warm up to watch the 4×400 go off, and that was just the biggest little dose of inspiration we could have,” Traum said. “They ran a fantastic race, and that sort of thing is fuel to the fire.”
Looking ahead, the teams are preparing their slates for Nationals, which will be held on March 10 and 11. The top-20 DIII competitors in each event will make the trip to Birmingham. Currently, Hodge, Benjamin and Olson are in the top-ten for their respective events. All three competed in Nationals last season. Benjamin placed third in the 60m dash, Hodge took 14th in the pole vault and Olson was tenth in the 200m.
“We have a few competitors going into the [Last Chance Meet], so we can see potentially adding one to two more Polar Bears to our Nationals travel roster,” Que said.
Que said that much of preparing for the championship is staying consistent and relying on previous training.
“They have put in all the work, and this week is a tune up and more so really balancing the mind, body and soul…. Preparing for Nationals is really really focusing on the controllables like eating, sleeping, hydrating, stress management and doing workouts that really build confidence for our competitors … and remind them that they’ve already put in the work, and they’re ready to execute,” Que said.
The teams are also eager to compete again at the Birmingham track, where Bowdoin took first place in the distance medley relay six years ago.
“That place has a lot of fond memories, so I’m excited to go back and create even more memories with the travel roster that hopefully will come to fruition on Sunday,” Que said.
A select number of Polar Bears will compete at Tufts tomorrow, and the official roster for the NCAA National Championship will be announced next week.