There was a time when Ryan Widzgowski wasn’t sure he could even compete in college track and field.
Now a senior at Keene State in New Hampshire, the 2010 graduate of Camden Hills High knows he can not only compete but is capable of doing something no one else was even willing to try.
Widzgowski was the only male middle distance runner to compete in both the mile and the 800 meters at last weekend’s NCAA Division III indoor track and field championships at the Bob Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb.
He finished second in the mile with a time of 4:10.18, trailing only Bowdoin senior Coby Horowitz (4:08.40).
He then placed sixth in the 800 meters in 1:53.36. McKena Ramos of Wisconsin-Oshkosh won in 1:51.30. Tufts sophomore Mitchell Black of Brunswick finished fourth (1:52.57).
Widzgowski had also run both events on March 14 during qualifying.
“I talked with my coach Peter Thomas and we were very confident in my ability to do both,” Widzgowski said Wednesday while vacationing in Florida with family. “I understand why I’m the only one who tried the double but I knew I could do it and I knew I was the only one capable of doing it. It’s just the way we train. I double and triple each week at meets.”
When Horowitz attacked the field in the mile from the gun, Widzgowski said he had to make a quick decision, opting to let the Bowdoin runner go to conserve energy.
“Looking back on it now, I think I made a tough choice but the right one because it was so close from second to ninth. It was only (.81) of a second,” Widzgowski said. “If I had gone with Coby and then felt poorly with three laps to go, the rest of the field would have chewed me up.”
Coming out of high school, Widzgowski was a good but not great runner. His personal best in the 800 still hadn’t cracked the two-minute mark and he was rightly overshadowed by an instate class that included future Division I runners Will Geoghegan of Brunswick (now at Dartmouth), Kellen Cullenberg of Mt. Blue (Maine) and Nate Hathaway of Scarborough (New Hampshire).
“My year was tough. They were really, really accomplished runners,” Widzgowski said. “I was way at the bottom of the list.”
What Widzgowski had was an appetite for the sport, the ability to set and achieve goals, and a desire to run in college.
“I was hoping to run (in college) and I contacted everyone,” Widzgowski said. “I had to contact Peter Thomas first. I owe him a lot. He saw my athleticism.”
It took two years of college training before any significant improvement was evident. Then as a junior Widzgowski qualified for both the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships, and surprised the field by finishing second in the indoor mile and backing that up with a third-place finish in the outdoor 1,500 meters.
“Junior year everything just clicked,” Widzgowski said.
With one season remaining, Widzgowski said he’ll attempt to qualify in both the 800 and the 1,500 for the outdoor championships, and repeat his double if he can.
“Doing what I did indoors just motivates me and gives me way more confidence,” Widzgowski said.
Saint Anselm senior forward Dominic Borelli of Westbrook had two of the best games of his career in the NCAA Division II East Regional. In an 82-68 win against Bloomfield in the East semifinal, the 6-foot-7 Borelli came off the bench and played a career-high 33 minutes, scoring 16 points and grabbing 14 rebounds for his first-ever double-double.
Two nights later against top-seeded Southern Connecticut State, Borelli scored 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting and had five rebounds in the first half as Northeast-10 regular-season champion Saint Anselm (22-8) led SCSU (30-2) at the half, 32-25. Borelli played sparingly in the second half as SCSU came back for a 78-72 win and advanced to the Elite Eight.
Borelli, who started as a junior, averaged 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds as a senior, and set the school’s single-season field-goal percentage with 68.5 percent (75.4 in league play).
Guilford College senior Lily Colley of Wells set her school’s single-game scoring record with 12 points on five goals and a career-best seven assists in a 20-18 win at Randolph-Macon. Colley’s big game also earned her the Old Dominion Athletic Conference women’s lacrosse Player of the Week. Colley ranks sixth in NCAA Division III scoring and first in the ODAC with 7.20 points per game.
• University of Vermont freshman attack Alex Bernier of Falmouth has five goals in five games, helping the Catamounts open the season with a 7-2 record.
• Saint Michael’s junior attack Kate Boyer of Standish (Bonny Eagle) has five goals for the 3-0 Purple Knights.
• Wheelock College freshman goalie Meghan Lewis of South Berwick (Marshwood) had a school-record 31 saves in her college debut, a 15-3 loss to Thomas. Junior midfielder Molly Centore of Kennebunk collected one of the goals for Wheelock.
Thomas sophomore Joe Quinlan of Westbrook kept his team from being no-hit in its second game of the year, a 15-2 loss to Johnson & Wales. J&W senior pitcher Aldo Morales of Havana, Cuba, threw a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts.
Bentley sophomore Malcolm Oliver of Damariscotta (Lincoln Academy) finished tied for 13th in the two-day, eight-team Bear Traip Dunes Invitational in Ocean View, Del., shooting a 36-hole total of 155.
Charlie Merry of Kennebunkport (Kennebunk) is a sophomore playing singles matches for Saint Michael’s.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: