GREENCASTLE, Ind. -- A pair of veterans to NCAA Track and Field Championships, one male and one female, will represent Bates again this weekend at the Division III Indoor Championships at DePauw College in Greencastle, Ind., and they'll be joined by a rookie making the first of what he hopes will be many trips to NCAAs.
Senior Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan (Topsham, Maine) is the lone representative from the Bates women's team going to the meet, where she'll compete in both the shot put and the weight throw. It is Duncan's fifth trip to a national championship meet. A three-time NCAA All-American -- twice in the indoor weight throw and once in the outdoor hammer throw -- Duncan has had her finest indoor season yet. She is seeded fourth out of 15 entrants in the shot put, with a top effort of 45-08.50 this year, and she is the fifth seed out of 17 athletes in the weight throw, with a top effort of 57-06.50 to her credit. At last year's indoor nationals, Duncan placed sixth in the weight throw and 15th in the shot put.
On Thursday, the day before the NCAA Championship meet began, Duncan was honored as the New England Women's Field Athlete of the Year, as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association unveiled its 2010 Division III Region Award Winners for Indoor Track & Field.
Senior Rich McNeil (Lawrence, Mass.) also made the field in both the shot put and the weight throw, and he is making his fourth trip to nationals, and his first to indoor nationals. McNeil missed the entire indoor season as a junior after breaking his foot in preseason practices. A two-time NCAA All-American in the outdoor hammer throw, McNeil is seeded 12th out of 14 entrants in the weight throw, with a top effort this season of 60-02.50. He is seeded 16th out of 16 competitors in the shot put, after posting a career-best shot put of 52-04.50 last weekend to win the ECAC Division III title.
Meanwhile, first-year Jesse Chapman (East Thetford, Vt.) is the fresh face representing the Bobcat men's team at NCAAs. Chapman will compete in the pentathlon, a week after setting a new Bates record in the event at the ECAC Division III Championships with 3,496 points. Chapman has a chance to become Bates' first All-American in the indoor pentathlon if he can finish among the top eight out of the field of 13 athletes competing. Chapman is seeded 13th, and he is one of only two freshmen competing in the pentathlon, as well as one of only three freshmen and sophomores combined.
The men's pentathlon is scheduled to get started on Friday at 9 a.m.; the men's shot put begins Friday at 5 p.m., and the men's shot put gets started Saturday at 1 p.m.
Duncan competes in the weight throw on Friday at 2:30 p.m., followed by the shot put Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
JOE WOODHEAD HONORED (AGAIN!)
Duncan wasn't the only Bates figure to take home an honor prior to NCAAs. Longtime men's and women's assistant throws coach Joe Woodhead was named the New England Region Women's Assistant Coach of the Year by the USTFCCCA. In May 2008, Woodhead also earned New England Men's Track and Field Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the USTFCCCA.
Woodhead coached the Bates women's weight throwers to a 1-3-4 finish at the New England Division III Championships, where the team finished sixth for the second straight year. In his 14th year, Woodhead qualified Duncan for the NCAA Championships in the shot put and weight throw (he also coaches McNeil). The Bobcats are ranked 25th in the nation.