June 1, 2007

Maroons take step forward but miss out on All-American status

By Wayne  

Last Thursday first-year discus thrower Claire Ray tossed her way into history with a sixth-place showing at NCAAs. Taking on the nation’s best over the weekend, Ray’s teammates weren’t able to replicate her accomplishment, but capped off the season with a trio of strong performances.

Competing at the NCAA D-III track and field championships, fourth-year Emil Bojanov, third-year Zach Rodgers, and second-year Rachel Venezia all finished their spring campaigns on a high note despite finishing out of All-American contention. The meet brought to an end a successful spring season and, in the case of Bojanov and Rodgers, helped compensate for a winter campaign marred by injury.

“Going into this meet, I’m sure the goal for everyone was to become an All-American,” head coach Chris Hall said. “All of our kids competed well, and most of them moved up in the rankings. I felt really good and proud at the competition.”

On the men’s side, Bojanov finished 11th in the 1,500-meter run on the final day of competition. After battling a tendon injury during the indoor season, Bojanov returned to form in the spring, taking the UAA by storm and qualifying for NCAAs one last time.

Needing a solid performance to advance to the final round, the Bulgaria native advanced out of the prelims with a time of 4:00.97 Thursday. With it he earned a shot at redemption after being tripped up in the final stretch in 2006. He stepped it up a notch in Saturday’s race, recording a time of 3:57.78. In a tightly packed final run, Pomona–Pitzer fourth-year Will Leer took home the crown, registering a time of 3:53.13.

Making his Nationals debut, third-year Zach Rodgers placed 11th as well in the decathlon Friday. He stood in 13th place after five events, but picked up the pace in the end, finishing with 6,415 points. Rodgers’s long jump, perhaps his best event, was somewhat hampered by the hard winds blowing on the first day.

“The 30–35 mile an hour winds threw Zach off a little bit on Thursday,” Hall said. “Nonetheless, he competed extremely well after that, especially the last three events. He has really built up his consistency in all of his events pretty well.”

On the women’s side, Venezia had high hopes entering Friday’s steeplechase. Coming into the competition ranked 12th in the country, she fell short in the end, finishing in 15th with a split of 11:14.93. Amherst fourth-year Shauneen Garrahan won the gold with an NCAA–record-setting performance of 10:13.33.

“Rachel really put in a great effort to chase her goals, and I would like to congratulate her on pushing herself to get what she is going after,” Hall said. “This race, she pushed herself too hard at the start, and it really affected her towards the end of the race. The national exposure will help her down the road, and this meet was really a worthwhile experience for Rachel. She will soon learn how to approach each race, and her heart is already in the right place.”