Women's Finish Marks Dramatic Two-Year Improvementby Nate Smith
[Complete Meet Results]
A number of top performances highlighted the Bluffton women's track and field team at the 2003 HCAC Championships, as the Beavers completed the most successful season in school history.
After scoring just 12 points for a last-place finish two seasons ago, the Beavers garnered 119 points and a 3rd-place standing in 2003. Bluffton finished just six points shy of 2nd-place, as 4 teams in the meet scored over 100 points. The Beavers were led in their performances by freshman Rita Muether, who scored 26 points through the day. Muether was named HCAC Freshman Of The Year for her performances. She finished 1st in the 400 meters (61.15), 2nd in the 200 meters (26.60), and 4th in the 100 meters (13.05). Muether also ran on both relays for Bluffton.
In addition to Muether's title in the 400 meters, the Beavers also picked up a title as the 4x100 meter relay champions. That team of Muether, Amanda Habegger, Jana Hammer, and Marquita Miller won the race in a new school record of 50.84. For the sophomore Hammer, the relay was only the start of an extremely successful day on the track. She also claimed a new school record in the 100 meters, placing 2nd in 12.77, to go along with a 3rd-place finish in the 200 meters (26.90). Habegger, meanwhile, showed her courage by placing in five different events despite competing on a stress fracture in her lower leg. In addition to both relays, she placed 3rd in the 100 hurdles (16.56), 4th in the 400 hurdles (72.90), and 5th in the pole vault (7-6). Miller also had a strong day on the track for the Beavers, running both relays to go with a 4th-place finish in the 200 meters (27.43) and a 6th-place in the 100 meters (13.27). The Beavers' 4x400 meter relay team of Muether, Habegger, Miller, and freshman Stephanie Welch placed 3rd in a time of 4:13.93.
The Beavers were also driven by the performances from Laurel Miller, Bluffton's career leader in HCAC Championship points. The junior scored 22 points for Bluffton, placing in the top 3 for three different individual events. She also claimed personal-best performances in all three events. Those finishes included 2nd in the triple jump (33-9.5), 2nd in the 100 hurdles (16.14), and 3rd in the 400 hurdles (70.29). Another top competitor for Bluffton was Welch, who placed in both the long jump (3rd, 15-8.75) and the 800 meters (6th, 2:28.13). The Beavers also gained high finishes from a couple of freshmen in the distance races. Carrie Hudecek placed 5th in the 3000 meter steeplecase with a new school record of 12:58.99, while Lauren Borga placed 5th in the 10,000 meters (41:51.50).
A few of the top performances for Bluffton in the field events belonged to sophomore Michele Bailey. Bailey placed 2nd in the discus throw (121-1) and 4th in the shot put (34-5.75). She was joined in the shot put by Megan Beach, who placed 5th (34-2). Other women to score for the Beavers were freshman Kirstie Dravenstott and junior Rachel Noirot. Dravenstott placed 5th in high jump (5-0), while also making the finals in the triple jump (30-2, 7th). Noirot, meanwhile, placed for the second consecutive year in the pole vault, taking 6th at 7' 6". Rounding out the field events, Bailey led the Beavers in the hammer throw (114-5, 8th), and Katie Snyder was the top Bluffton finisher in the javelin (78-5, 7th).
The HCAC Championships marks the conclusion of the regular season for the Beavers, the most successful one in school history. 13 of the 21 outdoor school records were broken during the 2003 campaign. The Beavers will lose no one to graduation this year, on a team that is largely freshmen and sophomores, with a bright outlook for the 2004 season.