FORMER BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL standout track athlete Allison Hill of Bates College, here running the 100-meter dash, competes in the NESCAC Championship this weekend at Bowdoin College.

FORMER BRUNSWICK HIGH SCHOOL standout track athlete Allison Hill of Bates College, here running the 100-meter dash, competes in the NESCAC Championship this weekend at Bowdoin College.

BRUNSWICK

For a pair of former elite Brunswick High school runners, this weekend’s New England Small College Athletic Conference men’s and women’s track championship at Bowdoin College is a welcome and fitting homecoming of sorts.

Allison Hill of Bates and Middlebury’s Alex Nichols are returning to their hometown running roots, where they left their high school marks on regional and state running standards. Each will be defending an individual NESCAC title won in 2016 along with participating in additional events, and they hope to be among the list of outstanding NESCAC collegians that got their start on the Brunswick High School track.

ALEX NICHOLS OF BRUNSWICK will make his homecoming on Saturday at the NESCAC Championships at Magee-Samuelson Track on the campus of Bowdoin College. Nichols runs for Middlebury College

ALEX NICHOLS OF BRUNSWICK will make his homecoming on Saturday at the NESCAC Championships at Magee-Samuelson Track on the campus of Bowdoin College. Nichols runs for Middlebury College

Hopefully Saturday will add to the local lore.

Hill will try to make it two NESCAC golds in a row, competing in the 400-meter hurdles, while Nichols defends his in the 400 dash. These runners have not just excelled in these two events but have expanded to other areas since they were exposed to the collegiate level.

“Hill is a very versatile athlete and can help our team all over the track.” Bates women’s track coach Jay Hartshorn said. “This Saturday she will be in the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays along with the 100 hurdles and either the 200- or 400-hurdles, the latter to defend her title. The 200 is a good option for us since she was an indoor All-American in this event. She currently has the second fastest time in all of (Division III) NCAA in the 100 hurdles, her premier event where she finished seventh at the 2016 D-III NCAA championship, earning her All-American honors.”

According to Middlebury coach Martin Beatty, Nichols, a senior captain, is slated to compete in the 400 dash and the 4 x 400 relay.

“Nichols has become the foundation of our men’s track and field team the past four years.” Beatty said. “He is an All-American in indoor track, having run a 400 leg of our DMR relay team at the NCAA championships as well as being several times All-NESCAC and an All-New England in the 400 and the 4 x 400 relay.”

A real track enthusiast, Nichols has even dabbled with the high jump and the 400 hurdles while trying any way he can to help the team.

Hartshorn continued extolling the merits of Hill.

“She is a two-time All- American in the 100- and 200-hurdles in both 2016 and this year, and she has the distinction of holding the Bates school record in an astounding seven events — 55, 60, 100 hurdles, 200 indoor and outdoor, and the 4x400and4x100relays.She has been the workhorse of our teams.”

At Brunswick High all one has to do is walk the “Halls of Fame” to further see the accomplishments of these two. Hill boasts the top school marks in the triple jump and the high hurdles, while Nichols holds the middle distance standards in the 300, 400 and the 600 races.

It is interesting to note just how far Hill has branched out at the collegiate level. She has gone far beyond her basic high school events. Her high school coach, Dave DeLois, marvels at her track accomplishments.

“She has developed a lot more speed since she has been at Bates. We could never get her to run the sprints here at BHS. Both she and Alex have been an integral part of the our track successes during their tenures, having left their marks as high at the state level.”

Coach Hartshorn continues to praise the contributions of her standout runner.

“After a rough start in her college career mainly due to illness, Allison has been phenomenal the past two years at Bates. It has been so great to see her dedication and hard work pay off. I am sure she is looking forward to racing in Brunswick in her final NESCAC meet.”

Beatty, as well, notes that “Alex has been an academic All-American and NESCAC All-Academic, therefore showing that he is a true scholar athlete and successful in both realms.”

And surely his academic teachers at BHS will also welcome this facet of his development.

The individual successes and records of both these individuals have been noted through the years on Mile- Split Pro, and these achievements are indeed a credit to the individual colleges as well their initial exposure and training in the Brunswick school system.

End of an era

With all the attention this Saturday on the participants as they cap another chapter in their athletic lives, it should be noted that one more aspect of change is set to occur.

Two days after this meet, major renovations planned for the Whittier Field Complex will begin as an era ends for the Magee-Samuelson track. The 2017 NESCAC championships will be the final competition on this surface, and no doubt future trivia buffs will retain final track results as part of NESCAC track lore.

Peter Slovenski, Bowdoin College track and field coach, as well as the “official” track historian, will likely look back on all that he and this surface have experienced.

“In 1970 cinder became all-weather as “Nike Grind,” a new and at that time advanced material perfected by Nike, was laid partly due to the relationship between 1980 Bowdoin grad Joan Benoit (Samuelson) and the sporting giant. The track had been here since 1903, but the new surface, which will be completed in the next year, will be the ultimate in a running facility.

“This place has seen some amazing performances.

Bowdoin has hosted the NESCAC event every 11 years when its turn comes around. Regional and state high school meets have been here and records have been set — albeit many of which were in yards and not meters. In fact, a runner by the name of Regina Jacobs set the world record in the 5,000-yard run on this track.”

Speaking like a proud parent, Slovenski acknowledged:

“It has been great to be part of this college and this program over the past 30 years. I can remember in 1972 biking over here from Lewiston to watch the Olympic trials, a real track highlight of my young life. Little did I know then that this place would end up being a big part of my life.”

On a personal note, this writer’s first visit to Bowdoin and Brunswick coming down from a summer camp in Readfield was also in that summer of 1972 to watch legendary Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine in those same Olympic trials. Little was I to realize!

For many of the NESCAC athletes, this weekend is not the end. NCAA competition looms in the days ahead. Dreams of national recognition abound. Where track leads them in the future is for each to decide. Whether it be personal achievement, a running life style, marathons, or even the Olympic dream, in some way this sport could be a part of their lives. Nor is it the end for Slovenski and many future Bowdoin tracksters as they will look forward to the new Magee- Samuelson track.

Whether it be NESCAC athletes or Bowdoin runners, much is yet to come.


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