Heading into last weekend’s NCAA Div. III Indoor National Championship meet, coach Kristen Morwick said the biggest obstacles facing Tufts’ two runners, juniors Brittany Bowman and Annalisa DeBari, would be mental.
“Both Britt [Bowman] and Nal [DeBari] know what they need to do to prepare for their races. They are healthy and excited to compete,” Morwick told the Daily in an email the Tuesday before the meet. “The toughest part is just waiting for Friday.”
However, their nerves did not seem to affect them too much as both DeBari and Bowman capped off their first track national championship races by becoming first-time All-Americans.
On Saturday DeBari ran a time of 8.86 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles to take fifth place and earn the All-American honors awarded to the top eight competitors. Senior Rachael Kraske of George Fox University took first place in the event with a time of 8.63 seconds. DeBari’s run came a day after her prelim time of 8.87 seconds, which qualified DeBari for the final, seeding her fifth. These runs are just the second and third times ever that DeBari has run the 60-meter hurdles in under nine seconds, with the first time coming last weekend at the Tufts Last Chance meet where she ran a time of 8.85, a personal record of 0.21 seconds and the time that propelled her to qualifying for nationals. Before the season DeBari had never run a time faster than 9.33 seconds in the event and even going into the Last Chance meet her time of 9.06 seconds was ranked 36th in the nation, 19 spots out of qualifying.
Morwick spoke to DeBari’s confidence while running over the weekend, saying it allowed her to remain consistent in her times despite never having run that fast before last week.
“Annalisa was seeded eighth going into the meet, but we knew it would be really tough to make the final given it was her first time running at Nationals. She ran a great trial, finishing second in the first heat (to the eventual winner) in 8.87,” Morwick wrote. “In the final, despite hitting two hurdles, she ran 8.86 to finish fifth. The top four athletes in the race are all seniors, as well as the two athletes behind her. They had all been to NCAAs before and that experience is huge. For her to be top five in her first attempt at NCAAs is incredible.”
On Friday, in addition to DeBari’s preliminary heat run, Bowman competed for the Jumbos in the 5,000-meter race. Because of the strain running the 5k can put on a runner, there is no prelim, but simply one final heat competed in by 17 athletes.
Bowman ran a time of 17:06.47 on the banked track, placing eighth in the race despite coming in being seeded 13th. The five-position jump was just enough to propel her into an All-American honors spot, earning Bowman her second All-American honors after being named an All-American in cross-country earlier this fall. Bowman’s time in this race was also a personal record of over four seconds from her previous banked track time. Junior Taryn Cordani of Ithaca College finished first in the event with a time of 16:28.15.
Bowman started the race strong, running in fifth place after the first 1,000 meters.
“I tried to pace myself throughout the race, I tried to be smart about it. Throughout the whole race I was anywhere from sixth to eighth,” Bowman said.
She settled in after that and heading into the final 1,000 meters of the race Bowman sat in 10th place. However, just 200 meters later she had managed to push ahead of runners Katherine Treanor, a first-year from Amherst College, and Erin Artz, a senior from St. Norbert College. Artz continued to push Bowman for the rest of the race, never falling behind by more than a handful of seconds on their splits, but in the final 200-meter push Bowman edged out Artz to finish ahead of her by less than two seconds and earn the final coveted scoring and All-American position.
Bowman and DeBari will now likely take a short but deserved break while the the Jumbos prepare for the beginning of their outdoor season, which they will kick off in Las Vegas, Nev. at their Spring Break meet on Saturday.
Morwick is optimistic about the team heading into the outdoor half of the season and hopes to improve on the success of indoor.
“We are looking forward to a great spring and are hoping to improve significantly on the indoor season,” Morwick said. “We had a ton of injuries and with all those kids back and healthy, we should have an awesome outdoor season.”