Keene State sends three to NCAA Track and Field Championships in California
KEENE, N.H. 5/21/12 – California here they come!
Three Keene State College athletes are on their way to the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships that begin on Thursday at Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College in Claremont, California. Senior Andrea Walsh (Bolton, Conn.) and juniors Glenn Guilmette (Kensington, N.H.) and Maggie Fitter (Branford, Conn.) left campus early Monday morning for the long cross-country flight.
Usually held in the central portion of the country to accommodate travel, the championships will be held on the west coast for the first time.
"It's not an easy trip," said KSC Coach Peter Thomas, who along with throwing coach John Napolitano and the three Owl athletes will spend almost 16 hours traveling to the national meet. "The travel and time change takes a lot out of you."
"The Division III championships committee has been trying to get some different areas of the country an opportunity to host the event," said CMS Athletic Director Mike Sutton. "It's a huge expense when you consider that 90-95 percent of the participants will be traveling via air."
Sutton said he was surprised that Claremont-Mudd-Scripps was awarded the championships. "Our former track coach John Goldhammer really advocated bringing the championships out here and showing the Los Angeles area what a national championships looks like in track and field," Sutton said. "Why not come out to Claremont? The timing was right to bring it out west."
Located 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, Claremont-Mudd-Scripps has a unique history. The Claremont Colleges are comprised of seven institutions within a two-and-a-half mile perimeter and include over 5,000 undergrad students. Claremont McKenna College is the lead institution for the consortium and where the athletic facilities, including the Fritz B. Burns Stadium (where the championships will take place) are located. Harvey Mudd College and Scripps College, the only all-women's institution, are also a part of the group.
Due to many evening events and the three-hour time change, Keene State fans will have to be night Owls if they plan on staying up and watching the meet which will be streamed on the NCAA Championship web page:
The late show begins on Thursday when Walsh competes in the trials of the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 10:50 p.m. (Eastern Time). Walsh, who qualified for last year's meet, is seeded 14th in the event with a time of 10:46.41. "If Andrea runs near her seed time she has a chance to All-American," said Thomas. "She's been sick the past few weeks, but her recent workouts have been good."
Walsh, who faltered in the later stages of last year's championship race and placed 13th, hopes to advance to the finals that will be held Saturday (4:45 p.m.).
Fitter takes to the track for the preliminaries of the 800-meter race on Friday at 10:10 p.m. Fitter, who is seeded 14th in the event with a time of 2:11.10, is coming off wins at the New England Division III and ECAC Championships.
Thomas says Fitter has no room for error. "Maggie doesn't have the leg speed of most of the runners, so she's needs to stay in the middle of the pack and trust her strength to stay in contention," he said.
Fitter, who earned All-America as a member of Keene State's indoor distance medley relay team in 2011, is hoping to reach the 800 finals which will take place on Saturday (7:20 p.m.).
Guilmette will be shooting for his second consecutive All-America honor in the javelin event after finishing fifth at last year's meet with a throw of 206'-00".
Since posting a personal best mark of 208'-1" in the first meet of the season, Guilmette has spent the time preparing for the NCAA championships. "Once he hit the 208'-1" mark, we've been training for this one day," said Napolitano. "It's been a lot of hard work, especially since classes have been done. Hopefully, It'll pay-off."
The men's javelin event will take place on Saturday (3:40 p.m.)
In addition to its college campuses, Claremont is also known for its tree-lined streets and historic buildings. The KSC trio hopes to make a little history of their own this week.