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Track and field teams take second place finishes at Bates College Invitational last weekend

January 26, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
BACK ON TRACK: Kennedy Kirkland ’26 won both the 400m and the long jump in the Bates Invitational last weekend, where the Polar Bears achieved several key wins to start off their season.

Last weekend, the men’s (188 points) and women’s (211 points) track and field teams finished second at the Bates Invitational meet in Lewiston. Both teams came in just behind Bates.

Kennedy Kirkland ’27 won both the 400m (1:01.56) and the long jump (5.30m). For her, the team’s high energy and encouragement inspired her the most, particularly that of her captains and Head Coach LJ Que.

“[Que] is the biggest cheerleader this world has ever seen,” Kirkland said. “Her energy is unmatched by everyone, and yet she’s able to keep a balance of tough love when you need it. She’s a very good motivator.”

Kirkland also found training over the January break helpful to her progress. From team dinners to lip sync battles to trivia nights, the team spent its time on campus growing closer on and off the track.

Francine Miller ’27, who won the 600m (1:45.90), found that the break offered a way to focus on running without worrying about classes.

“It was cool to be on campus just with my teammates. This might make me sound crazy, but it was just ‘eat, sleep, run.’ It was very refreshing to have that type of training without school,” Miller said.

Kane Demers ’26, who won the 60m hurdles (8.34) and the long jump (6.59m)—statistics that are the second-best in school history—is looking forward to the rest of the season.

“Early on in the season, it’s a lot more intensive training. That’s not to say that training gets less hard,” Demers said. “But I think as the season progresses, you start to fine tune and focus more…. So [in] practice, instead of focusing on the long term in general, you would maybe focus on … one aspect [of the jump].”

This meet marks a strong start to the season with a collection of standout Polar Bear performances. Some include Kianne Benjamin ’24, who won the 60m (7.62), Lauren Traum ’24, who won the 1000m (3:01.89) and Stephanie Chun ’24, who won the mile (5:14.31). On the men’s side, Oliver Brandes ’27 won the 600m (1:22.86) and Brooks Peters ’23 won the 1000m (2:31.24). Ethan Estrada ’25 won the pole vault (3.70m) and Ian Stebbins ’25 placed first in the heptathlon with a score of 4,407 points.

In general, this strong start offers a lot of hope to the team. Last year, the men’s and women’s teams took third and fourth, respectively. Max Russo ’24, who won the 400m with the third-best time in program history (49.45), hopes that his performances this season will show improvement.

“Last season at one point I hurt my knee, so I missed two weeks,” Russo said. “And then the end of the season didn’t go as well as I wanted. But this season, things are going really well so far. I’m focusing a lot more on being diligent with my training and recovery.”

Similarly, Demers thinks that this meet is just the beginning.

“I like to think about every meet as part of a process. We’ve talked about this a lot on the team, but you kind of want to peak at the right time,” Demers said. “You want to keep getting better every practice and then show that at a meet … I’m really happy with how I competed, but I do have bigger aspirations than this weekend.”


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