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Women's track scores in five events, finishes 11th at NCAA Championships

Sally Ceesay triple-jumped 40 feet, 9.5 inches to claim second place at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships on May 27, 2017. (d3photography.com)

GENEVA, Ohio -- The Bates women's track and field team scored in five events, including three top-four performances, on the way to an 11th-place finish out of 80 scoring teams at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Championships.

Junior Sally Ceesay (Bronx, N.Y.) took second place in the triple jump, senior Allison Hill (Brunswick, Maine) placed third in the 100-meter hurdles and senior Jessica Wilson (Cumberland, Maine) placed fourth in the 1,500 meters and seventh in the 5,000 meters to lead the Bobcats.

Sophomore Ayden Eickhoff (Corvallis, Mont.) finished eighth in the 800 meters and Bates' 4x400 relay team placed ninth.

Bates' 22 team points, all scored on the third and final day of the meet, put the Bobcats in 11th place out of 80 teams that scored points. One point separated Bates from 10th-place Wisconsin-Eau Claire (23) and from 12th-place Wisconsin-Whitewater (21). Sixty-nine other colleges competed but did not score with a top-eight performance. 

Bates women's cross country and track and field will be in the running for Program of the Year as one of the select programs to score in the NCAA Championships in cross country (19th), indoor track and field (tied for 11th) and outdoor track and field (11th).

Ceesay became a four-time All-American with the best performance of her career. She hopped, skipped and jumped 12.43 meters on her second attempt of the day, shattering her previous team record of a wind-aided 40-1.25. She passed that previous mark again on her first attempt of finals, but SUNY Geneseo senior Alexa Wandy led the competition from wire to wire, opening with a 12.87-meter attempt and topping out at 42-8.

Ceesay's performance was one of two team record-breaking performances on the day. 

Wilson finished the 1,500, which began at 12:25pm, in 4:27.33, eclipsing the team record that she has pursued all season: Kallie Nixon's 4:30.04 mark from 2014.

Two and a half hours later, Wilson put forth an all-out effort in her final collegiate race, earning seventh place in a time of 17:13.32, 0.96 seconds ahead of eighth-place Marissa Cossaro of SUNY Geneseo, and 3.94 seconds ahead of ninth-place Megan Kellogg. The effort was worth two team points for the Bobcats and made her a five-time NCAA All-American, including two in a span of under three hours. At the start of the meet, she was seeded eighth in the 1,500 and 14th in the 5,000.

Hill ran the second-fastest time of her career in the finals of the 100-meter hurdles, blazing to a 14.11-second finish despite clipping the seventh of 10 hurdles with her foot, at which point she held a slight lead in the race. Alison Smith of Redlands won in 13.98, followed by Jordin Fender of Transylvania (14.05). It was Bates' best NCAA finish since Vantiel Elizabeth Duncan '10 placed third in the shot put in 2010, until Ceesay went one place better two hours later.

Eickhoff, who broke her own team record in the 800 in Friday's trials at 2:10.78, nabbed her first individual All-America honor and second overall, placing eighth in the finals in 2:12.32, beating out ninth-place Williams senior Yvonne Bungei by 0.48 seconds for the last All-America spot.

Bates wrapped up the meet with a ninth-place performance in the 4x400 relay, one place away from scoring and from All-America status for Hill, first-year Paige Rabb (Stamford, Conn.), Eickhoff and senior Claire Markonic (Millerton, N.Y.).

"I couldn't be prouder of how well this group competed today," said head coach Jennifer "Jay" Hartshorn. "It was great for the last day of NCAAs to feel like an actual track meet -- we had so much going on that they couldn't even watch each other at the end of the day, because both Jess and Sally were competing and the 4x4 was warming up. We will really miss this group of seniors (captains Hill, Markonic, Wilson)."