Over the past two weekends, Bates Women’s Track and Field team has competed at two huge year-end meets in pursuit of fast times, long throws, far jumps, and excellent team performances.
At the Division III New England Championships held at Bowdoin, the Bates women faced one of the most competitive fields that any region of Division III has ever seen, with each event having multiple nationally-ranked athletes.
Finishing a strong tenth out of 26 scoring competitors with 40 points, the team relied on big performances from Ayden Eickhoff ’19, Elise Lambert ’22, Amanda Kaufman ’21, Katie Barker ’19, and Katie Hughes ’19.
Eickhoff and Lambert both ran national top-10 times in their respective events, the mile (4:57.55) and 800 (2:13.69), while Kaufman finished fourth in the 60m hurdles with the second best time in program histroy, 9.06, less than 0.1 seconds off from earning a NCAA invitation. Barker placed sixth in the 3000m (9:56.95), outpacing a deep field and ranking within the top 20 nationally.
Hughes doubled to place sixth and eight in the weight throw (49-1) and shotput (37-8.5) respectively, earning valuable points for the team.
Closing the meet with a third place finish was the 4x800m team of Sarah Rothmann ’19, Lambert, So Kim ’21, and Eickhoff.
Also scoring points at DIII’s were Mary Corcoran ’22, Vanessa Paolella ’21 and the 4x400m relay composed of Kaufman, Corcoran, Rebecca Willis ’22, and Sarah Shoulta ’19.
According to Head Coach Jennifer “Jay” Hartshorn, 40 points is enough to get fifth some years, and tenth others; it is all relative to the competition.
“[Points] don’t really tell the whole story,” Hartshorn said. “We basically scored in all of the places we could score going into the meet, and a lot of them we even placed higher.”
For some, Division III’s was the last meet of the indoor season, but for others, the Tufts National Qualifying Meet was one last chance to try and earn a PR, or even a trip to the National Championship Meet the weekend following in Boston.
Perhaps the biggest highlight for the Bobcats was the performance of the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) group, made up of Paolella, Imani Boggan ’21, Lambert, and Eickhoff, who ensured their place at the National Championship Meet with a time of 11:51.33. The time bests the team’s previous flat-track record of 11:51.93, which earned 4th place nationally back in 2017.
Along with the excellent performance of the DMR, the 4x400m relay of Willis, Kaufman, Sophie Matt ’22, and Corcoran ran a top 50 national time of 4:01.75. Katie Hughes, Amanda Kaufman, and Shelby Burns ’19 all competed well, but unfortunately could not put up the marks necessary to extend their respective seasons.
At Nationals, the Bates Women will be represented by Lambert, Eickhoff, Barker, and the DMR of Paolella, Kaufman, Lambert, and Eickhoff.
This will be Eickhoff’s fourth and final NCAA Indoor Nationals experience, previously having earned All-American honors in the DMR and 800m run.
“I’m really interested to see how this new [DMR] team works out,” Eickhoff said. “This is the first time we’ve run it together. I have absolutely no nerves or reservations when it comes to that. I think we’re a team who’s going to put it all out there on the first try.”