On a Saturday afternoon that featured torrential rain and 20mph gusts of wind, the Bates women’s track and field team squared off against conference rivals for a shot at NESCAC supremacy. The Bobcats entered the competition coming off an impressive second-place finish at the Aloha Relays last week.
“Having had a successful performance the prior week in the cold and rain, we had the confidence that we could once again perform well in weather that was not ideal,” said Elise Lambert ’22, a standout 400-meter hurdler and 800-meter (m) runner.
Senior Ayden Eickhoff ‘19 led the pack, securing a first-place victory in the 800m and a second-place finish in the 1500m. Eickhoff’s efforts earned the Bobcats an essential 18 points that would substantially improve the team’s standing. Eickhoff’s performance also earned her fourth and fifth All-NESCAC awards for track and field.
“We went into this weekend’s competition with some lofty goals, goals that the weather conditions definitely put a damper on,” Eickhoff commented. Regardless, she was excited to be able to score points for the team and is eager to see what the next meet will bring.
Elise Lambert ’22 also picked up her first All-NESCAC award for her second-place finish in the 400m hurdles event. Lambert’s 8 points came off an impressive performance at the Aloha Relays in which she won the high jump and the 4×400.
Both Eickhoff and Lambert noted the adverse weather conditions as a defining factor throughout the meet.
“The wind was strong the first 200, which really forced us to get out hard,” said Lambert.
Eickhoff also added, “The rough weather conditions meant expectations had to change for everyone. No one could easily compete for a PR anymore, just points. Races became more strategic as athletes jockeyed for good positioning.”
Other notable performances from the Bobcats included a third-place finish from captain Katie Hughes ’19 who placed third in the hammer throw and fourth in the shot put. Hughes secured her third career All-NESCAC award with the top-three finish.
In addition, Lily Simmons ’22 and Ellie Strauss ’21 both placed seventh in their respective events, picking up key points for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats’ efforts cumulated in a fifth-place finish, beating Hamilton by a mere half point. Although the result comes as a decline from last week’s second place finish, it does represent an improvement from last year’s eighth-place result.
The Bobcats will look to continue their momentum heading into next week’s DIII New England’s in hopes of better racing conditions and more impressive performances.
“I think a lot of us are planning on lowering our times. Many people on the team are looking forward to the opportunity to get a solid time in the books at this next meet, as it will have similar, but likely stiffer, competition,” said Lambert.
“I am really hoping that Division III New England’s will have slightly better conditions so I can drop a couple of seconds in my races,” Lambert added. With her career winding to a close, Eickhoff added, “The fact that these next couple weekends are my last collegiate races makes me sad but also motivates me to take full advantage of the opportunity to race against awesome competition.”
This meet will be a pivotal stop on the road to Nationals for the Bobcats, who are looking to exceed expectations on the national stage once more.