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Track and field team sees successful start to outdoor season

April 12, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
IN THE VAULT: Charlotte Hodge ’25 prepares to pole vault during a meet. The track and field team will return to competition at the Coffey Invitational this weekend hosted by Smith College.

The track and field team began its outdoor season with great strides at the UMass Lowell Invitational on March 30. Both the men’s and women’s teams achieved several first-place finishes. The season’s successful start builds off momentum from the indoor men’s and women’s Maine State Championship title wins in February.

“Indoor [season] gave us a lot of success and a more competitive mindset with more mindfulness and an increased focus on competition, as opposed to just performance,” Addison Davis ’25 said.

Davis claimed first place in the 3,000 steeplechase and Max Russo ’24 won the 400 hurdles for the men’s team. The 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams also finished first with times of 43.68 and 3:25.05, respectively. Later that day, Nick Sibiryakov ’25 won the pole vault competition (4.55m).

“The meet seemed like it was going to be competitive, but not super challenging … sort of a rust buster,” Davis said. “A lot of progress has been made. Four of the five of us [men’s steeplechase runners] ran our personal best last Saturday.”

For the women’s team, Kianne Benjamin ’24 won both the 200m and 400m races and Kennedy Kirkland ’27 broke Bowdoin’s long jump record by 7cm, setting a new school record of 5.64m.

The team’s success at the UMass Invitational follows the team’s accomplishments at the Wesleyan Swanson Invitational two weekends ago. The number of New England DIII National qualifiers made the meet one of the team’s most successful openers in recent years.

“[The Wesleyan opener] just takes a little bit of the pressure off … in terms of qualifying for Nationals. Generally, that’s something that we shoot for towards the end of the season, but doing it at the beginning just … gets us all excited,” pole vaulter Charlotte Hodge ’25 said. “So, we can really focus on form and technique.”

At Wesleyan, Hodge, who is currently ranked third in her division, improved her second place all-time mark to 3.38m. Overall, 13 athletes qualified for the NESCAC championship in April, including Ian Stebbins ’25, who landed his career best in pole vault— just short of Bowdoin’s school record.

The team’s winning results at the Wesleyan Invitational came despite the day’s turbulent weather. Due to the snowstorm, events like pole vaulting were moved indoors, but many of the races were still held under windy and rainy conditions.

“I think what was special about Wesleyan was, even though the weather was just horrible throughout the day, we had a number of teammates out there standing in the rain, getting drenched and cheering each other [on],” Stebbins said.

Unpredictable Maine weather has historically been an issue during the track and field team’s transition from the indoor to outdoor season. Still, the team’s focus is on embracing these harsh weather conditions whenever possible.

“We have been talking a lot about preparing for each competition rather than waiting for the perfect day when everything is right. Last year, the NESCAC championship was super cold and rainy, even though it was in late April,” Davis said, “So, those bad weather experiences at the beginning of the season are good preparation, even if, at the time, they are not the greatest.”

Bowdoin’s men’s and women’s track teams are only separate on the scoreboards. Both teams unite as one to practice, travel and compete together.

“I think the track team is very unique in the way in which the men’s and the women’s sides function as one.… Crossing the divide and supporting each other is what has contributed a lot to our performance and sets us apart from Bates and Colby,” Davis said.

The team is preparing for the Coffey Invitational at Smith College this weekend—one of its most competitive meets of the season. With four weeks left until the NESCAC Championship and eight until the NCAA DIII Championship, the track and field team still has much of its season ahead of them, but many athletes are hopeful for the future.

“We have created a team culture that more athletes want to be a part of and want to work harder for. This has led to better performances year after year. And, I think the same thing is going to happen this year,” Stebbins said. “I think we are going to be better than we were last year.”


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