The Keene State College Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track and Field teams are preparing for nationals within the coming weeks that will be held in LaCrosse, Wis. May 23 through the 25.
After a successful indoor season in which three Owl athletes from the program competed at nationals, KSC is looking to return those same three athletes along with a handful more. As the teams prepare for the coming meets, athletes are beginning strenuous workout regiments due to the top competition that lies ahead.
Senior Janel Haggerty recently won the pentathlon national championship during the past indoor season with senior Maggie Fitter and junior Ryan Widzgowski in attendance for the big competition. Both are looking to enter this spring seasons’ outdoor national championship in similar fashion and likely will do so.
Head Coach Pete Thomas, who has been at the helm of the program for the last three decades and has seen many athletes come and go through nationals, said the athletes are anticipating the final weeks of the season leading up to nationals.“We’ve done terrific as a whole group,” Thomas said. “The kids are training extremely well, showing nice progress in a good hard working group that has potential to do a lot at nationals.”
“Winning is very difficult, though. We were lucky with Haggerty indoors. For outdoors it might be Glenn Guilmette for the javelin. We’ll see about Widzgowski who has probably a 20 percent chance and Fitter has a 30 percent chance while Guilmette will probably have a 35 percent chance [of winning].”
Fitter is currently ranked eighth in the country at the 1500m posting a 4:36 and Widzgowski recently posted a top time in the country for D-III in the 1500m with a time of 3:48.75 while attending a meet at Princeton University this past weekend.
Widzgowski finished second at indoor nationals after being ranked seventh in the 1500. He said this past weekend was just another preparation for the national tournament process.
“The plan was to run fast and try to run faster and check off my strength and we were confident going into Princeton, so really for right for these next couple of weeks until nationals I’m going to be getting ready for high pressure situations and make sure I’m ready for anything that comes up,” Widzgowski said.
Already qualified for the national championship contention is senior javelin thrower and Glenn Guilmette.
Guilmette is currently ranked second in the nation for D-III javelin throwers and will be looking for a national title after finishing just fourth in the event at nationals last spring season, throwing a personal of 217 feet. Throw-coach John Napolitano is directly involved with Guilmette and said that the individual event Guilmette is participating in is tricky and the competition will be very rigid.
“What’s tricky about track and field is that it’s an individual sport, so to make a guarantee that someone is going to be at the top of their game that day is kind of a risky thing,” Napolitano said.
“What I will say is that I like Guilmette’s chances a lot, I think he’s training hard. The javelin field this year is absolutely ridiculous. He came in fourth last year throwing at 217 feet and two of three that were in front of him are returning. Two of the three that were in front of him are returning, including that national champion so there’s obviously some stiff competition but it’s just going to come down to who can have the biggest throw on that given day.”
“I think Guilmette definitely could win the national championship, it’s him against himself and if he goes out there and throws like he’s supposed to he’ll win. When you start worrying about beating other guys and trying to throw it farther than somebody else, that’s when you start getting in trouble.”
Guilmette reiterated Napolitano’s words and doesn’t want to get into his head before and during the moments of his throws so he’s kept to a routine training regimen, which pertains to him attempting to make his arm more flexible for bigger throws rather than gaining more muscle mass.
“I’m just going to look for a personal record because I know if I throw a personal record, which will be a 218, that could possibly be a national championship mark so I just want to go out there and throw my best because I know that would be the mark to do it,” Guilmette said.
“Everyone is within five feet of each other, two feet, three feet, so the marks are really close this year. It’s really exciting because this could be anybody’s ball game because it’s so close. All these players have thrown further marks so it’s kind of scary but everyone has a pretty good chance of coming out big this year.”
After Guilmette’s graduation this spring, Napolitano said he’s looking at sophomore Ben Keach to replace Guilmette’s presence on the throw team as a national contender.
The feelings most athletes will construct within their mental fortitudes is that they know they cannot be nervous and that a good mental state is one of the only factors that lies in between their success and a national title.
Widzgowski said his desire for a national title that is strong enough to overcome any circumstances. “You can be nervous but you have to remind yourself you made it to this point for a reason and that you deserve to be there just as much as the guy next to you,” Widzgowski said.
“Clearly we all worked hard but I just know that my work is going to pay off and I’m not going to let myself get defeated for something in my head.”
Dalton Charest can be contacted at