When a team gets a new coach, a turbulent transition period is more often than not expected. Changes in the workout, the team dynamic, even just the times practices are held at; everything is subject to change.
However, the indoor track and field team has taken what could’ve very easily been a rocky season of adjustments and turned it into a season of success.
With a new head coach, Keene State alumna Paige Mills, assistant coach, Keene State alumnus Jared Hannon, and only 15 competing athletes, the Owls traveled to Gorham, Maine, on February 22 for the Little East Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships.
And boy, did they show up.
Both the men’s and women’s teams finished in fifth place out of nine in the conference with a multitude of athletes placing first in a variety of track and field events.
“I was absolutely in awe of all of them this weekend,” said Coach Mills. “To put it together at LECs like that, especially with such small numbers, I think we really made an impression and it’s evident to the rest of the conference that we’re coming for them.”
On the women’s side, junior Skyler Gauthier competed in five events throughout the day. Her most notable event was her performance in the 55-meter hurdles, where she placed first with a time of 8.78 seconds. Gauthier was also a member of the 4×400-meter relay that placed first with a time of 4:13.65. She also competed in long jump where she placed tenth with a jump of 4.47 meters, high jump where she tied for fifth with a height of 1.48 meters, and the 800-meter where she placed second with a time of 2:27.02.
First-year Sarah Bialkin participated in the 800 meter alongside Gauthier, placing seventh with a time of 2:37.73.
Sophomore thrower and now Keene State record holder in the shot put Shannon Parks also had an impressive showing in Maine. Parks landed herself in the winning spot in shot put with a throw of 12.15 meters, only .05 meters away from her recent record-breaking throw.
Junior Christina Martin placed fifth in the 5,000-meter with a run of 19:57.57. Martin also competed in the 1-mile, placing seventh with a time of 5:57.09.
First-year Hannah Jones snatched sixth place in the 5,000-meter with a time of 20:31.04 and came in fifth in the 1,000-meter run with a time of 3:32.87.
Senior Lynne Hebert came in second in the 1-mile run with a time of 5:16.80, only seconds behind the first place time. Hebert also came in second in the 1,000-meter with a time of 3:08.97, but returned at the end of the meet as a member of the winning 4×400-meter relay previously mentioned.
Senior Nicole De Almeida and junior Chloe Page stuck together throughout the meet, coming in first and second respectively with times of 1:42.65 and 1:43.35. De Almeida and Page were also the final two members of the 4×400-meter relay.
As for the men, junior Benjamin Musese had an impressive showing in his home state of Maine. Musese took home the win in the triple jump with a jump of 14.22 meters, which not only was a little less than three feet farther than the second place jump but also broke his own previous Keene State record. Musese also competed in the long jump where he placed fifth with a jump of 6.34 meters.
First-year Ryan Sullivan was the other jumper for Keene State competing in long jump alongside Musese and high jump. Sullivan finished in sixth in the long jump event with a jump of 6.27 meters and placed fourth in high jump with a height of 1.85 meters.
Sophomore distance runner Dylan Richards competed in the 5,000-meter where he placed ninth with a time of 17:06.97.
First-year Jacob Pearl, whose profile is featured in this issue of the Equinox, participated in the 1-mile, the 3000-meter and was a member of the men’s 4×400-meter relay, which placed fifth with a time of 3:39.48. Pearl placed second in the 1-mile with a time of 4:22.96, only .17 seconds behind the first place finish. Pearls 3,000-meter performance had him coming in third place with a time of 8:58.83.
The winner of the 3,000-meter was Keene State sophomore Rob St. Laurent. He won with a time of 8:55.95 and was also a member of the previously mentioned 4×400-meter relay team.
Junior sprinter Brandon Castor competed in the 400-meter dash where he placed third with a lifetime best time of 51.39 seconds. Castor’s time also qualified him for the NCAA DIII New England Championships. Castor was also the first leg of the 4×400-meter relay.
Junior Cameron Giordano was the final member of the 4×400-meter relay, but also held his own in the 600-meter dash where he came in ninth with a time of 1:31.32.
Overall that is a total of eight women and seven men competing.
Keene State took home six first-places, five second-places, and two third-places.
“The plan wasn’t to come in and throw them in as many events as possible,” explained Mills. “It was more, let’s be realistic, let’s just do well at what we do, let’s just compete tough and have a good time and the results will happen.”
Next up for the Owls is the NCAA DIII New England Championships, which will be taking place February 28 and 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts, for the men and Middlebury, Vermont, for the women.
“We’re pretty excited about New Englands,” said Mills. “I think they are all feeling like the fitness has come together at the right time, which is giving them confidence. Now we are just tapering in; there’s not much you can do at this point in the season. Just keep them feeling good and they’re all going to have a good day this weekend.”
Claire Boughton can be contacted