The men’s and women’s track and field teams both placed fourth overall out of nine teams at the Carla Coffey Invitational at Smith College last weekend. Bowdoin had several first place finishers, new personal records (PRs) and New England DIII qualifying times. For the first time since the season opener, the entirety of both teams were present. The teams will look to build off of their momentum at the Pine Tree State Classic this weekend at Saint Joseph’s College.
The men’s team finished the meet with 135.5 points, falling behind only NESCAC opponents Tufts University, Amherst College and Middlebury College. Ajay Olson ’23 placed first in the 200m and second in the 100m. Lars Sorom ’26 came first in the 800m, and Brooks Peters ’23 won the 1500m.
The women’s team was led by Kianne Benjamin ’24, who placed first in the 100m and the 200m. Cianna O’Flaherty ’24 won the 400m, and Stephanie Chun ’24 finished first in the 5000m. Emma Hargreaves ’23 took first in the shot put.
O’Flaherty was glad to run among teammates who made her race more enjoyable—she ran with three other Bowdoin runners—and the warm weather certainly did not hurt.
“Having so many people also running the 400m made it easier because we could all support each other and uplift each other. I was just trying to take advantage of the really nice weather because, in outdoor [track], we don’t always get that in Maine,” O’Flaherty said.
The invitational was the first meet back for Chun since sustaining an injury during the indoor track season. Going into her 5000m race, Chun was just hoping to keep up with the pack. Instead, she placed first.
“My coach had myself and my other teammate, Abby [Mueller ’24], run the first mile together and then try to build from there. That was really, really helpful. Everyone was super supportive. It’s hard to cheer for 12 laps, so thanks to my teammates for standing out there and encouraging us every lap,” Chun said.
Both O’Flaherty and Chun highlighted the team’s high energy from the meet, attributing it to full team attendance and sunny weather.
“We always say to control the controllables, so even if the weather’s not great, people always bring really good energy—but it definitely helps a lot when there’s sun.… everyone was really energized and excited,” O’Flaherty said.
O’Flaherty said the meet left both teams feeling optimistic for the rest of the season, which includes the NESCAC Championships next weekend and the New England DIII Championships in two weeks.
“There were a lot of PRs and a lot of season bests, which is exciting…. It’s good momentum going into NESCACs and DIIIs because everyone knows how they can perform. This is a little taste of what’s to come because [we’re] competing against a lot of really competitive schools,” O’Flaherty said.
Chun added that many runners on the teams are trying different events and hopes that this variety will provide good practice for upcoming meets. Chun is looking forward to seeing as many runners qualify for the New England DIII Championship as possible.
“That [championship] is always really fun. There’s a qualifying standard, and hopefully we can work with each other to help run each other to those times,” Chun said.
Chun also expects many teammates to qualify for the NCAA DIII National Championship hosted at the end of May. Both she and O’Flaherty are excited to see where the season takes the Polar Bears.
“I feel like our team has just done a really good job at putting in the work, and we’re seeing that all play out now. I think that this is a really supportive and energized team, and I’m excited to see what we can do because I think we can do some really great things,” O’Flaherty said.
The men’s and women’s teams will travel to Standish this weekend to compete at the Pine Tree State Classic.