Women's track preview: Bobcats reload after graduation of three All-Americans

Jumps standout Srishti Sunil is one of many reasons Bates women's track and field looks like it will have a big year in 2018. (File photo by Tom Leonard '78)

LEWISTON, Maine -- Despite the loss of three multi-time All-America performers to graduation in 2017, the Bates women's track and field team is ready for another big year, according to 13th-year head coach Jay Hartshorn.

Bates' track and field season officially begins this Saturday at noon with a home meet against MIT and Colby in Merrill Gymnasium; it will conclude, the Bobcats hope, with another successful trip to the NCAA Outdoor Championships in late May. Last year, thanks in great part to the performances of hurdler Allison Hill, distance runner Jessica Wilson and sprinter Claire Markonic, Bates took 11th place at both the indoor and outdoor NCAA Division III Championships.

Bates may not be able to replace Hill, Wilson or Markonic, but the Bobcats return an excellent group headlined by an outstanding senior class. Bates has five veterans of previous NCAA Championships on the roster and several more athletes who have won all-region honors. To top it off, Hartshorn calls the team's first-year class potentially the best in her tenure.

"It's oddly exciting, because there are so many possibilities for people making up lost points," said Hartshorn, the NESCAC Coach of the Year last year in both women's cross country and track and field. "We're going to see a lot of impact in that first-year class. It might take a little while to show, but it's there."

Following is a look at the Bobcats in three main event groupings: (1) Sprints, Jumps, Hurdles, Pole Vault, Multi-Event; (2) Throws; and (3) Distance and Middle Distance.

Sprints, Jumps, Hurdles, Pole Vault, Multis

Senior captain Sally Ceesay (Bronx, N.Y.) is already a four-time All-American in the triple jump and has only improved throughout her career. She finished off a stellar junior year by taking second place to a senior from SUNY Geneseo in the triple jump at the NCAA outdoor championships with her best career performance: 40 feet and 9.5 inches.

Senior Srishti Sunil (Bangalore, India) also enters her final year of college track -- the multi-event standout will focus on jumps this year, where she won the State of Maine title in the long jump and also took second place in the high jump and third in the triple jump.

Sophomore Paige Rabb (Stamford, Conn.) returns from an outstanding rookie season in which she helped Bates finish ninth in the 4x400-meter relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, after winning All-NESCAC honors in that event and placing fourth at the NESCAC Championships in the 400-meter hurdles. Sophomore Anna Beaudet (Auburn, Maine) also benefits from moving past her first season, which included running a leg of Bates' NESCAC champion 4x100 relay team.

Senior Lindsey Beauregard (Hollis, N.H.) returns as an All-New England pentathlete.

Other top returners to this group include senior long jumper Charlotte Cutshall (Falmouth, Maine), junior high jumper Shelby Burns (Uniontown, Pa.), junior hurdler Sarah Shoulta (Waterville, Maine) and senior captain Caroline Gettens (Concord, N.H.), while sophomore Ashley Pratt (Greene, Maine) may be poised to have a breakthrough year in the pole vault.

Throws

Defending state shot put champion Katie Hughes (Pittsfield, Maine), the lone junior in Bates' quartet of team captains, anchors a young group that includes two first-year athletes and Beauregard.

Distance/Middle Distance

Senior cross country All-American Katherine Cook (South Burlington, Vt.), who spent her junior winter semester studying abroad, makes a welcome return to the Bobcats for a final track and field season.

Cook rejoins a standout group that is two months removed from an outstanding Bates women's cross country season. The group includes two track All-Americans in juniors Ayden Eickhoff (Corvallis, Mont.) and Sarah Rothmann (Andover, Mass.). Both runners helped Bates finish fourth in the distance medley relay at the 2017 NCAA indoor championships. Eickhoff followed that with a great outdoor NCAA Championship experience that included taking eighth place in the 800-meter run, and she emerged as a cross country star in the fall, capturing All-NESCAC and All-New England honors.

First-year Abby Hamilton (Yarmouth, Maine) also won All-New England laurels in the fall and embarks upon her first collegiate indoor track season.

Bates' distance group also returns terrific depth, with such athletes as senior Mary Szatkowski (Buxton, Maine), junior Hannah Austin (North Yarmouth, Maine), sophomore Daniella Pascucci (Needham, Mass.) and seniors Rachael Rosow (Avon, Conn.) and Julia Nemy (San Francisco, Calif.).