The Bates women's track and field team won its sixth straight Maine state championship and the men's team won its fifth in the last seven years. Plus, we talk to some standout skiers and recap the NESCAC Championships for men's squash. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!
Interviews this episode:
- 1:18 -- Amanda Kaufman '21, Women's Track and Field (Female Bobcat of the Week)
- 10:11 -- John Rex '21, Men's Track and Field (Male Bobcat of the Week)
- 20:40 -- Julia Middlebrook '21, Women's Basketball
- 21:58 -- Omar Attia '21, Men's Squash
- 31:31 -- Kaelyn Woods '20, Women's Nordic Skiing
- 39:08 -- Arie van Vuuren '22, Men's Alpine Skiing
Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast. Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we are celebrating a pair of Maine state championships for the track and field program. Both the women and the men took home the title. The women’s basketball team picked up a NESCAC win and the men’s squash team finished fourth at the NESCAC Championships, with a sophomore recording a signature win against the two-time defending national champions. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: The women’s track and field team won its sixth consecutive maine state championship on Friday, out-scoring runner-up Bowdoin by six points. The Bobcats won eight events overall and sophomore Amanda Kaufman delivered big-time performances in the 200-meter dash and the 60-meter hurdles. Kaufman won the 200 meters with a time of 26.42 seconds and she took second in the hurdles with a time of 9.11 seconds. And Amanda Kaufman is our Female Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: Female Bobcat of the Week Amanda Kaufman with us here on the Bobcast, and Amanda, first of all, Maine state meet this past weekend, tell us about the events you participated in, how did they go?
Amanda: Alright, so, this weekend I was in four events, I was in long jump, high jump, hurdles, and then the 200. So I actually haven't run in open 200 since my high school year ... my sophomore year of high school, outside, never inside. So I was little like, "We'll see how that goes," but as for hurdles, went really well, I had a pretty off-day on my field events, so I felt a little bad about that, I knew the team really needed points, as we were the underdogs coming in to the meet, so I guess I used that sadness and disappointment of the field events, to really just push myself on the track, especially the 200, that ended up being my last event, so I really just wanted to leave everything out there on the track, and score as many points as I could for the Bobcats.
Aaron: So the field events came first, and then you used that as motivation, and you won the 200 right, so how'd that feel, crossing that finish line first?
Amanda: So it actually was a weird circumstance, because I had never run a college 200 inside, the seeding in heats ended up that I was in the second-to-last heat, which is not the fast heat. So I knew that going into it, so I kind of knew it was going to be me against myself, so I really just pushed myself, and was as aggressive as I could, and then it was super exciting, I actually got to see Coach Curt's reaction, when the fast heat went, and they put the times up, and we realized that I had won, and it's something that I'll never forget, he was so excited, and that was really, really awesome to see, because I knew we really needed the points, so I was really glad to do that, and get that done.
Aaron: Awesome, so people might be thinking, "Wow, four events, that's a lot," but you're a multi-sport athlete, you do the pentathlon here, how'd that develop?
Amanda: So it kind of started my junior year of high school, it was a very last-minute decision my outdoor season, I really just decided to give it a try, so the first ever multi-event I did was the heptathlon, which is the outdoor event, and really just was, we put it together, and whatever happened, happened, and then I really, really loved it, I just love the idea of dabbling in all the different track events, so, again, going into my senior year, I was like, "Well, I really wanna do it again, but actually spend some time perfecting the more specific events," so I started more with jumps, and more with throws, and then when I got to college, the same thing, I wanted to keep it going, one thing I really love about the way it works at Bates is I get to practice with everyone, the throwers, the jumpers, of course the sprinters, who I normally practice with, and then, sometimes, if I'm lucky enough, with the distance girls, who are in some 800 workouts, which is not my favorite, but it's awesome to get that experience.
Aaron: It's gotta be so challenging, because a lot of people get to focus on one event; throwers are throwers, whereas you have to do everything. How do you manage that?
Amanda: I think, like I said before, I really enjoy knowing a little bit about everything, so ... especially I went to the men's meet, actually, and so I helped with filming, and I love just listening to, hearing what the coaches have to say, and knowing a little bit what to tell my teammates, if they ask, "Hey Amanda, how did that long jump look?" Or anything like that. So, yeah, I think I just really love knowing a lot about track, and I like to be busy, so my weeks at track are super busy, there's really no off-days, when you're a multi, when the sprinters have an off-day, the multis are having a jump day, or something like that, but it's awesome, this year we actually have two first-year guy multis, who are twins, so that's been awesome, to have that addition, and then of course Brendan Donahue, who is, of course, an incredible athlete, so it's awesome having this little community on the team.
Aaron: The team was underdogs, coming in, which sounds weird, because you were five-time defending state champions, what was that like, going in?
Amanda: Yeah, so I really appreciated Coach Jay telling us, you know, "We have a streak, but it is going to end, eventually, so if this is the year, so be it." So I liked going in with that, "Okay, let's just see what we can do, let's see what we can do as a team." Knowing that we had graduated a lot of our big points scorers, so that was one of my favorite, favorite memories is when things didn't go as well, like my field events didn't go as well, lot of first-years stepped up and took the points that some of the upperclassmen were supposed to score, so it was awesome to see an absurd team effort, and then to come out on top, at Bowdoin, was awesome.
Aaron: Yeah, it was very close, at what point did you realize that the team had won?
Amanda: Oh my gosh, so I think probably in the very last event of the day, which was the 4x8 relay, I think probably by about the second or third leg, we realized that even if we didn't win the relay, we had enough points to still win, even if it was by one or two points. But, oh my goodness, everyone was ... stressed isn't necessarily the right word, it was more just we were really excited, and just wanted to support our teammates. I know the entire team was just lined up on the track, just yelling, screaming at everyone who was running. It was a great, great experience.
Aaron: And speaking of the team, who are some of your teammates who you were really impressed, just watching them participate?
Amanda: Oh my gosh, that's so hard, because, like I said, it was such a team effort, I know specifically Lauren Berube, a first-year, ended up scoring big points in the long jump, and ended up making the finals, and actually finished where I was seeded to finish, so that was great. I think keeping along the lines of the first-years, we have a really strong freshman class this year, so I think seeing all the first-years blossom, in a way, and just show off their strengths, was awesome. And, of course, Katie Hughes, one of our beloved captains, had a really great PR, I think in the weight, but don't quote on me on that, but it was just awesome, I know Katie, at the end of the meet, when she was done throwing, was one of the more nervous people, and definitely fostered the cheering environment.
Aaron: Tell us about your background, as a sophomore, how did you decide Bates was the place for you, when you were looking at schools, back in high school?
Amanda: So, I think to this day, one of my biggest regrets is Bates technically was my second choice. I know, shhh, don't tell anyone. But I think the thing that set Bates apart from all the other schools I was looking at, especially other NESCAC schools was the people. I remember every visit that I had here, every person that I met genuinely wanted to get to know you, and wanted to support you, and your interests, so I think that was a super big thing for me, was the community environment of, you can pursue what you want, and support your peers, and they support you. So I think that's what come to do it, and then of course the track team was very strong, which is something that was important to me.
Aaron: When did you start running track?
Amanda: My freshman year of high school was the first time I'd ever run track. I did cross-country in middle school, and I really didn't like the distance running. Actually, my freshman year, my first year of track, they really were pushing me to be a distance runner, because I was tall and lanky, and they were like, "Oh, you'll be a good distance runner," and I kept pushing, I was like, "No, I really want to try sprinting," and I don't even remember how I got into hurdles, I think it was something along the lines of, one day I just kind of tried it, they were like, "Oh, we're going to do some hurdles," and then I tried it, and was hooked initially, so, yeah, just definitely had to stick up for myself, and it's worked out pretty well so far.
Aaron: Awesome. So any goals that you have for the rest of the season, going forward?
Amanda: I mean, we have DIIIs New England's coming up, so I know we wanna keep bettering the marks that we've established so far. Then I guess that's when we're starting to think about NCAAs, which is obviously always on everyone's mind. Yeah, so we potentially might have some relays that are looking good, I would just love to see the team keep getting better, and myself, I'd love to keep getting faster and faster. I'm pretty close to breaking nine right now, in the 60 hurdles, which would be a huge accomplishment. That was one of my big goals, coming into the season, so I'd love to see that happen, and just see what happens from there.
Aaron: Alright, Amanda Kaufman, Female Bobcat of the Week, thanks so much.
Amanda: Thank you.
Aaron: After the women’s team emerged victorious on Friday, the men’s track and field team won the state title as well on Saturday, bringing the trophy home to Lewiston for the fifth time in the last seven years. Bates won nine events en route to scoring 211 points, outdistancing runner-up Bowdoin by 41. John Rex won both the weight throw and the shot put, continuing his strong start to his sophomore season. Rex’s distance of 59-9.5 in the weight throw is a new personal record, and it surpasses nine-time All-American Sean Enos’ personal record from when he was a sophomore. And with that, John Rex is our Male Bobcat of the Week.
Aaron: Last year at the Maine state meet, Bowdoin won it, this year Bates did. How cool was that to get that trophy back to Lewiston?
John: It was very, very cool. You know, I was saying a lot on Saturday that nothing bothers me more than losing to Bowdoin, and it was just so nice to get the W, and have everyone come together as a team, and everyone performed really well, and we took the W, which was awesome.
Aaron: Throughout the meet, do you get the sense that you guys were in really good shape, in terms of the standings, and what not?
John: It's hard to tell, because of the way the events are stacked. So, we could be in the lead by 40 points, but that also means that maybe we're just putting ... maybe just all of our high-scoring events have already happened, so you know, it was definitely nerve-wracking, throughout the meet, I kept going around checking what the score was. It was a really important meet, so I was very concerned about the score, you know, this is the meet where we just want to get the points in. It's obviously great to have personal bests, and always do your best, but this meet, the main focus was just beating Bowdoin, because it's been too long since the last time we beat them.
Aaron: So in the weight throw, you did set a PR, and you actually surpassed Sean Enos' PR when he was a sophomore, obviously seems to be on the track, I would say, in terms of your development in that event, so what's been going right for you?
John: I've just been focusing a lot on just getting a little bit better every day. Coach Fresh always says, especially this week he was saying it a lot, "1% better every week." If I can do something 1% better each day, then I'm getting better. And if just try to do something different than I did the day before, then it doesn't necessarily guarantee success, it doesn't guarantee that I'll throw farther, but ... the path to success isn't linear, and I'm a firm believer in the fact that sometimes you do need to get worse in order to get better, and it's just a constant progression. Whether that be a PR one week and an awful throw the next week, it's all part of the learning process, and I really, really enjoy the sport, and I see that as the reason as to why I'm finding success, and I think that, with anything, you'll only find success if you truly, truly enjoy what you do.
Aaron: We talked last time, you said that shot put was your weakest event, but you won the Maine state title, so that must be pretty satisfying, right?
John: Uh, yeah, so I did have a really rough season in shot put last year, both indoor and outdoor. But, after my outdoor season ended last year, I just made it a ... I really like the shot put, and I made it a personal goal of mine to just get good at it, so I worked really hard over the summer, I focused on it a lot, with anything, with hard work comes the results, and I'm finally starting to conceptualize and understand the technique behind the shot put and discus, being a hammer and weight specialist, obviously ... I mean the hammer and weight are my favorite events, but I also really love the shot and disc, and it's really cool to be good at all three of them.
Aaron: How about some of your teammates, what are some performances that really stood out to you?
John: My roommate, Ryan Nealis again, he killed it, he won both the state title in the mile and the 800, which is awesome, he came back from after running the mile, and ran sub-2, I think 1:58 800, which is insane, I don't even think I could run the mile, so that was very impressive, that was a very impressive performance, definitely helped the team a lot. And then, another performance I noticed is Nic Stathos, whose kind of been my buddy this season, because at the beginning of the season, Coach Fresh assigned us to ... or, he told us to find a buddy, and always check in, see how they're doing, and I noticed that this week, he killed it, and he ran like a 4:25 mile, which is a very fast time for a freshman, very, very impressive, and I think we're going to see a lot of good things out of him as the years go on.
John: Also, other performances, Bart Rust killed it, that kid is always in Merrill, he's always getting after it, you know, he definitely has a vision, he knows what he wants from the program, and I really like to see that. Brendan Donahue had huge PRs in the triple, and long, I think. But definitely the triple, I know he had a huge PR in the triple. And Brendan just is a great competitor, one of my best friends, he always steps up to the plate, even if he's not doing the hep one week, coach will throw him in whatever events, and he does whatever, you know, and he does well in them, and he's a really, really good performer.
Aaron: A lot of those names are underclassmen, which is probably really encouraging, right?
John: Yeah, definitely, we have a lot of talent in the underclassmen group, which makes me really excited for the years to come. That's not to say that the upperclassmen, that there's no talent in the upperclassmen, there's plenty of talent in the upperclassmen, but it's great ... it's a really good and fulfilling feeling, it's a very secure feeling to have depth within the program, and I'm really excited for what's to come in the next years.
Aaron: And then I know, obviously, the women also won the state title the night before, right, you guys competed, so that's pretty cool to have the sweep.
John: Yeah, it was awesome, I attended the women's state meet, and it was really, really exciting to watch, at least for me, I just really love watching track meets, and it was ... the energy of the meet was so exciting, there were so many outstanding performance, Katie Hughes had a giant PR in the weight throw, which was awesome, awesome to see. Genesis Paulino did great in the throws, so many good performances, Amanda killed it in the hurdles. Elise Lambert, who's a freshman, did amazing, Ayden Eickhoff killed it, she just absolutely smoked the girl in the mile, she was awesome. And the girl she smoked in the mile is actually one of my friends from high school, which was awesome, it was awesome to see, and she killed it, and she brings it every week.
Aaron: You mentioned you love watching track meets, obviously, track meets, there's a lot of stuff going on at once, how do you, when you're a spectator, approach things?
John: Well, see, the thing about going to a track meet, like the women's state meet. I sort of had the gist of the seeds, and how people are supposed to perform, so I think that made it more interesting to watch. Obviously I was hugging the throwing circle, and being there for Katie and Genesis, because they're people that I work with every day, and some of my really good friends, and I just wanted to be there, and support them. But I also was there to support plenty of other people. Like Ayden's one of my good friends, and we share plenty of meals together, throughout the week, she always finds me in Commons, we have nice conversations, and it was great to see her kill it on the track. And I knew that it was going to be a really tough battle, and she just absolutely stuck it to her. And she wasn't feeling her best, either, the day before, so I was really proud of her, in that respect. And, yeah, I'm just someone who studies the program a lot, and studies the sport a lot, so I think just having that knowledge of what's going on really allowed me to really enjoy it, and catch certain things across the fieldhouse, which was cool.
Aaron: So looking forward to the rest of the season, obviously nationals are a goal for you, I'm sure, this year, what's it going to take?
John: I believe I'm ranked 16th right now, top 20 go to nationals. That doesn't make me feel comfortable, I definitely just want to keep improving on my mark, I'd like to squeeze into the top eight before that day comes, before nationals comes, so, yeah, just gotta keep working hard, little bit better every day, technically, strength-wise, specific strength. Just a lot of factors that tie into it, gotta make sure I keep stretching, and I think ultimately, I think that my passion for the sport will take me there.
Aaron: If you get there, have you spoken with Dire about what the experience is like to go?
John: Of course, it's definitely a really overwhelming, exciting feeling from what I understand. And you know, I think that a big thing, after some talking to some people about it, just a mindset to have, that I'm going to try to keep going it, is just treat it like another meet, you know, because you're doing the same thing, it's the same throwing circle. It's what you've been doing the past three months, it's just same-old, same-old. It's gonna be a really competitive environment, if I do go, but I'm really excited, and I really, really want to get there. So, yeah, so I'm just going to keep getting better, keep trying to improve on my mark.
Aaron: Outstanding. What's this week, for the men's track & field team?
John: I think we're competing at ... some of us are competing at BU, I'm pretty sure I'll be going, I'll be at BU this weekend competing. I'm really excited for that, because that's a more high-intensity meet, sort of like nationals, so it'll be fun to see what I can do there.
Aaron: Are there Division I throwers there?
Aaron: Yeah, there are, yeah okay.
John: So, it'll be fun, hopefully I can take some D-I guys out, that's the best feeling, being a D3 athlete, and beating Division I guys, they have all the resources, they have great coaches, but I think that Fresh, personally, is one of the best coaches in Division I, II, and III, I think that he is an outstanding coach, and I trust him fully, so whatever he tells me, I'm gonna do.
Aaron: Sounds good, John Rex, Male Bobcat of the Week, thanks so much.
John: Thank you very much.
Aaron: The women’s basketball team defeated Regis 61-31 on Tuesday, the fewest points allowed by the Bobcats since 2013. Then Bates beat Hamilton in NESCAC action 60-52 Friday night, with sophomore Julia Middlebrook scoring 11 of her 16 points in the fourth quarter. After the game, Middlebrook joined the live broadcast.
Aaron: Julia, first of all, the banked three, when you released the ball, what was going through your mind?
Julia: Oh, that's alumni magic, baby. I was thinking in my head, "The basketball gods are looking out for me." Absolutely, that's what I was thinking.
Aaron: Did you sense that was kind of a turning point in the game, it seemed like everything clicked after that.
Julia: Oh, absolutely, I think we were working so hard on defense, and we just needed that one bucket to solidify it, and that was it.
Aaron: What is it about being at home, you've only lost once this year, and that was to the top team in the country!
Julia: You know, I just think it's the environment, it's the atmosphere, fans coming out, and it's just a great place to be. Every day's a great day to be a Bobcat, and that shows.
Aaron: The men’s basketball team fell at nationally ranked NESCAC foes Hamilton and Amherst over the weekend. But junior Jeff Spellman continued his outstanding season, scoring 22 points against the Continentals and a season-high 24 on Saturday against the Mammoths. Bates gets a chance to finish the conference regular season on a high note this Friday at Trinity.
Aaron: The men’s squash team finished fourth at the NESCAC Championships at Middlebury, defeating Amherst in the quarterfinals before falling to Trinity in the semifinals on Saturday. Despite the loss to the two-time defending national champion Bantams, Bates got a stand-out performance from sophomore Omar Attia, who defeated his opponent from Trinity 3-1 at the No. 3 position. On Sunday in the third-place match, Bates fell to Middlebury in a 5-4 heartbreaker, but Attia won again, this time in five games.
Aaron: You lost your match, personally, against Amherst, although the team won, and then you had to play an opponent from Trinity, and you were able to get a four-game victory. What adjustments were made between those matches, if any?
Omar: So what I really struggled with against Amherst is I have a long-term injury that always bugs me, since last year, it's usually shin splints, and my hip flexor. And during the Amherst match, I warmed up really well, but apparently it just really bugged me during the game, which really blocked my mentality to play, so it really obstructed me from winning, but then, during that day, I rested, I just did all the measures to ice, stretch out, do everything I needed to do, in order to be healthy for the next game, and, yeah, I just took some medications, and help from my teammates, they stretched me out, helped me be in the best shape possible for Trinity.
Aaron; So, how much time did you have between the two matches?
Omar: I think we had like two hours. So during those two hours, I went back and showered, and just did all what I needed to do.
Aaron: Excellent, so, Trinity, obviously, they've won the national title many times, the last two years, included, your opponent there, it was obviously a tough matchup, but you got the victory, what was the key to winning that one?
Omar: I would say, what I said in the huddle-up with the team, it's all about ... you just have to want it more. They might have the skill, they might have the talent, more than us, but I thought if we really wanted it more than them, we could have it, because they're going in, they're gonna win this, they're set up on they're gonna win this, because they're national champions, but I told everyone on the team before going in, "We can steal this from them, you just have to surprise them."
Aaron: At what point, during the match, you're starting to think, "Okay, this is going to be possibly going my way here?"
Omar: In the beginning ... in the first game, I thought, "You have to fight to win the first game, in order to make sure you're present, and make sure you're present in the game." And, I don't want to say, "Scare him," but, at the same time, show them that you're there, because if you show them that, it boosts up your confidence, and decreases his confidence, so it makes you play better. The game, I had help from my teammates, they were coaching me, obviously, between matches, and they were telling me what to do. I just stuck with that, I just stuck with what was being told to me, and it was more of a mental game than a skill game. You had to keep on holding on to it, that's it.
Aaron: How gratifying was it, after you got the victory, obviously all your teammates were probably thrilled for you, right?
Omar: It was a big moment, I didn't believe it, because usually everyone is like ... it's Trinity. Trinity, it's national champion, undefeated, stuff like that. And it's just crazy, because they didn't believe it, either. The Trinity kids were watching our game, and they were like, "Wow, this kid actually beat our number three." They didn't believe it, either, so I think that basically taught me a lesson that anything's possible, from ... in any sport, or school, or anything.
Aaron: Yeah, and the next day you had a five-gamer against your opponent from Middlebury, how'd that match go?
Omar: My opponent from Middlebury, he's a really good player as well, it was back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth, more than the Trinity game. The Trinity game was more of holding on in the very last few points, but it was more back-and-forth in the Middlebury game. I took a game, he takes a game, I took a game, he takes a game. Different type of player, obviously we had to approach it in a different way, and I think I actually worked more hard on that one, because I was really tired, because of the Trinity game beforehand, and I think, also the Middlebury game was a really mental game, because of these players were very equal in my level of squash, so I thought it was more of a mental game, and who wants it more.
Aaron: You know, it was a tough 5-4 loss to Middlebury, what was the mentality of the team, afterwards, going back on the bus, coming to Bates, and looking forwards to team nationals?
Omar: Well, obviously, a loss to Middlebury wasn't the happiest thing in our lives, but we think that the best way to deal with things is to be positive, and look forward to nationals, which, in my opinion, I think is more important, moving onto nationals, when we get our new weekly rankings, we will see which flight we're gonna be in, and hopefully we'll see what we're gonna do with that, and how we're gonna perform in nationals, because that's huge for us, and hopefully we are looking to get a banner and trophy back.
Aaron: Well, yeah, last year you played at nationals, right, so what was the experience like, what did you learn from it?
Omar: It's very competitive, it's the final stretch, it's like nobody's in full shape, everybody's tired, everybody's ... the winter, obviously, it affects everyone's performance, mentality, and I think it's just ... at this point of the season, it's how much you want it, and how much you put your mind to it, it's ... at this point you can't really improve any squash skills or fitness skills, it's all you've got to do is just work hard, and keep holding on to what you want. And, for our case, it's just we want to get a banner, and play well.
Aaron: Who are some guys this weekend that stood out to your on your team, who you thought played well?
Omar: I thought everyone played well, every single person on our team really worked hard, and actually tried to go out there and do something. I think the freshmen this year have been working extremely hard this year, they've been working really hard, they've got really good results. I mean, Peter Koenigsbauer also won against Trinity, so I think we should give him a lot of credit for that. Every single person on the team really worked hard, even though some people lost, I watched every single one of them, and everybody really did what they can, and that's all we need, that's enough.
Aaron: What do you typically tell the first-years, a guy like Peter, who right now is playing the ten, but a guy who's been in the lineup a couple of times, about what it takes to succeed, based on your experience so far?
Omar: They're really hard workers, I would definitely tell them to keep that work ethic. And obviously, I would also tell them to also focus more on squash, and more of their mental game, because college squash is, during the really tight games, if you're in a decider, you need to have ice in your veins, you gotta focus on only your game, not think about who's watching, who's reffing, who is ... what's gonna happen when you win. You gotta just focus on the point you need to win. And that's really hard, and it's a lot of pressure, especially when you want to win, and you want to make your teammates happy. And I think it comes with experience, and everybody learns that, I'm still learning that, and I think even the seniors, until now, are learning that, too. And I think it's very important that everyone learns it, because it's very key for everyone on our team to win with the mentality, when they work hard.
Aaron: Last question for you, any other thoughts on beating an opponent from Trinity, at the number three position, like you did, and how you can maybe use that in the future, to build your confidence, I guess, in the game of squash?
Omar: Yeah, of course, that Trinity win, I'm not saying I'm better than them, it was a good game, and it just happened, and I played hard, and fortunately I came to win that game in the end. Obviously, I always keep telling myself that should be a boost of confidence, but not to the level of over-confidence, thinking I'm really great, and that means I don't do anything, that obviously I need to improve on what I have, to go forward, and I think everybody on the team should do that too, and I think that me doing something like this, is not just for me, I want this for the team, because the team can see something first-hand, that anything can be done.
Omar: And, honestly, I didn't think I was gonna beat Trinity, but when I saw ... so the player I played, he played Coley Cannon earlier this year, and I saw Coley, really close games with him, and he took a game or two off him, and that actually gave me confidence to try to win, try to beat him, because if you see your teammate doing something, and he's trying to do something, it enforces that for the other teammates to do it, and I think that's good, because now people on the team say, "Okay, this is doable, we can do this." So that's very important.
Aaron: Excellent, Omar Attia, thanks so much.
Omar: Thank you, so much.
Aaron: The Nordic and alpine skiing teams competed at the UVM Carnival on Friday and Saturday. In Nordic skiing, junior captain Kaelyn Woods finished 24th out of 88 competitors Friday in the 5K freestyle race. Then she notched her best carnival race finish of the season thus far, placing ninth out of 88 competitors in the women's 15K classical technique race on Saturday.
Aaron: Kaelyn Woods with us here on the Bobcast, talking some Nordic skiing, and, first of all, Kaelyn, you had your best finish of the year this past weekend, in the classical technique there, a 9th place finish in a 15km mass start, meaning, as opposed to a normal race, maybe sometimes where you're going one at a time, this time everyone starts at once. What's that like, especially at the beginning?
Kaelyn: It's really fun, it's exciting, it can get kind of stressful, at times, just because everyone's going at once, you're trying to find a good line, kind of, out of the start, so you're not getting boxed out, because typically you start with a bunch of tracks, and then it goes down into less, so it's always stressful, but exciting, to try and figure that out. And you're skiing with people the whole time, basically, unless you've either dropped off a pack, or maybe you're ahead of a pack, most of the time you're skiing with people, which is really fun, to work together, and try and catch those people in front of you.
Aaron: I was gonna say, because in a mass start, you know where you are in the positioning, whereas, when it's one at a time, it must be kinda tough to tell where you are in the race.
Kaelyn: Yeah, so a mass start, yep, you are where you are, off the leader, anyways, in an individual start, there are some ways of telling where you are, based on splits, and time back from certain people, that's all done on technology, and what not, but, yeah, in a mass start, you know where you are, and so you know that if you get the person in front of you, you're gonna move up a spot, so that's fun.
Aaron: So this one, 15km, so one of the longer races, why was that so successful for you, in your opinion, what made this race work, because you got a 9th place finish.
Kaelyn: I think that I've worked to try and get to this ... I knew I could get there, I had a few finishes like this last year, so just working into the season, and working into racing again, and I really like the course at Trapp, in Stowe, it's one of my favorites, I've raced on it a lot, being from New England, so I knew where I could make my moves, and I knew where I could fall behind people, and then try and make up some time on them, typically on the uphills, which is really fun, so, yeah.
Aaron: Yeah, so the distances you race, those are typically, what, 5km or 15km, but the courses are, obviously, a variety of differences, so what makes this one in Vermont, that you were just at, maybe preferable to you, than one in another location.
Kaelyn: I mean, it all depends on the person, I think, of course all courses are different, so you're going to get a variety of different things, some are going to have a lot more climbing, some are going to have a lot more transition sections, a lot of downs. I don't know, I've skied this course a lot, and I really like the way it skies, it goes down for a little while, and then you start climbing, which I really like, and you have a few little areas where you have a little bit of rest, recovery, and then you start climbing again, and that's why today was so ... had to just put the hammer down at the end there.
Aaron: Excellent. Going into each race, is your goal in your head top ten, or do you not really focus necessarily on that?
Kaelyn: No, not really. I mean, I definitely know that I can be there, because I was there last year, so it's always really fun to get there, and be there, and reassure myself of that, the past races before, I wasn't getting those results, which was fine, I mean, it's sometimes frustrating, but at the same time, you have to work through every race, and I know that I can get there, and I feel confident in that, and the training that I've been doing, so just kind of letting it come is really important.
Aaron: Excellent, I know the team this year is hosting East regionals, right, that'll be at Black Mountain, but you train at Pineland Farms, right, so what's that dynamic like, there?
Kaelyn: It's interesting, I mean, Black Mountain's quite a bit farther away, so we don't really have the ability to go there every day after classes, and whatnot, but we do have the opportunity over February break, since we'll be on campus, to go up there, and ski, and no-one else is skiing there, so everyone gets handed it at the same time, we have a few more days on the course than others, but we also got to ski there early on, because they had some snow, so we got to ski there in December, probably, early December, so we've skied there a bunch, and we know what it's like, so, yeah.
Aaron: And I've talked to cross country runners who obviously train at Pineland Farms, as well, they often talk about how the course they run on is very hilly, is it like that for Nordic?
Kaelyn: Yeah, I mean I think it skis a little different, obviously, than it may run, but there's parts of it that are similar, I mean, it's hard to compare any course, in the hills in different places, but Pineland's a great spot to be able to practice every day, and we're really, really grateful for that, so.
Aaron: You're one of the captains this year, along with Sam Pierce, how's that going in terms of leading the team, and whatnot?
Kaelyn: It's good, it's really fun, I think that Sam and I both lead ... are pretty good, I mean the team is awesome, so they're always great, and ... yeah.
Aaron: Who are some other individuals who impressed you, maybe this weekend, on the team.
Kaelyn: Everyone's been really impressive thus far, it's really fun to see some of those first-years stepping up, like Olivia, and also Maya, who, it's her first season on snow, even though she was with us last year, but she had an injury, so it's really fun to see them moving up, and doing big things, it's really cool.
Aaron: Tell us about this weekend, the carnival you're going to this weekend, what this course coming up is going to be like.
Kaelyn: We're at Dartmouth this weekend, hopefully at Oak Hill, who knows with the weather right now, maybe moved, we don't know. Last year we skied on a 10km course, so we only did one loop of this long 10km, which was super fun. But who knows if the snow will hold up there. We're doing a 10km skate, and then a 5km relay, which'll be really fun.
Aaron: Okay, so relay, how does that go?
Kaelyn: So we're on a team with ... it's a three-person team, we each ski 5km, female, so three females from the team, obviously, we'll have two teams of three, and each person skis 5km, and it's started like a mass start, the first wave goes out, and then you tag off to your teammates, and it goes from there.
Aaron: And who's going to be on your team, do you know?
Kaelyn: No clue. We'll see.
Aaron: Becky assigns that?
Aaron: Gotcha, gotcha. And then relay's obviously fun, because a lot of times it often feels like you're by yourself out there, a little bit.
Kaelyn: Relays are really fun, it's also a nice way to take the pressure off of scoring points for NCAAs, and whatnot, so it's a nice breather, and it's really fun, the atmosphere's really cool, everybody's cheering for one another.
Aaron: Great, and so goals for you would probably be you wanna get back into NCAAs, anything else you have envisioning for the team, going forward this season?
Kaelyn: I think just keep making strides upwards. I think that we started off in a really good place, so just moving, and continuing to build off that is really, really ... we're looking for that, yeah.
Aaron: Alright, Kaelyn Woods, thanks so much.
Kaelyn: Thank you.
Aaron: In alpine skiing, first-year Arie van Vuuren led the way, taking 15th out of 60 competitors in the men’s giant slalom on Friday. Overall, the Bates men finished sixth out of 13 schools in the GS. Then on Saturday, van Vuuren led the way again with a 25th-place finish in the slalom.
Aaron: Arie, first of all, you're a first-year, from Colorado, so how did you decide to come out here to Bates, to study and ski?
Arie: Ah, so I guess it was right after high school, I ended up taking two years off, just to ski race, with the goals of being able to ski in college, because at the time I wasn't quite good enough, and I was looking around at all the NESCAC schools out east, and it just happened to be that Bates was the place that worked out, and so far it's definitely been not a bad choice at all.
Aaron: Did you get any chance to visit here before you enrolled?
Arie: Yeah, so I visited, I think that was ... must have been my junior year of high school, so that was three years before I actually got here, and I did the whole college tour, like I'm sure most people did, going round to Colby, Bates, and whatnot, but it was good, yeah.
Aaron: Two years off, so you had to jump right back into academics, skiing is probably no problem, but how have you jumped back in academically, also?
Arie: Yeah, skiing's perfectly fine, obviously, but the academics, at least first semester, were a little bit of an adjustment, initially, but I mean, I've got back into the flow of it, and it's not too hard any more.
Aaron: I mean, obviously time management very important, how do you balance that, because you're practicing at Sunday River, pretty far off campus, but you've got to go to class as well.
Arie: Yeah, I mean, you just kind of work around your schedule, and plan out exactly what classes you can take so you can have the most training time possible, which I think I've been pretty good at so far, so, it's definitely worked out.
Aaron: So, from a skiing perspective, what's the carnival season been like so far, because I know you have the season in the late fall, early winter, so that's not the carnival circuit, but now, on the carnival circuit, what are some things you notice?
Arie: Yeah, it's definitely a little bit of a different environment, I mean, obviously in terms of team scoring, it's a little bit higher pressure, but generally when I go out, I try and ignore all that stuff, and you just go and you ski, and you do your thing, and worry about results, later.
Aaron: Talking to Micaela, and some of your teammates, they mention that they're really impressed at how you're pretty much equally good at the GS and the slalom, how do you balance those two, what are some similarities and differences, for you at least, when you approach those races?
Arie: GS has definitely, this year, been more of a development for me, and kind of a gradual process, because it started off a little bit rough, and I've slowly been working on it, and slalom is ... I kinda got the hang of that earlier on on the season, and now I'm trying to work on some things to get it going, as it hasn't been doing bad, but there's some certain things that I'm trying to work on. But it just depends on the day, and how I'm feeling.
Aaron: In terms of the team, right, Micaela's the head coach, Bates alum herself, what's she been like as a coach, and how has she helped you, in terms of your skiing?
Arie: She's been awesome, I mean, definitely coming into the college environment, the job of a coach is a little bit different, because for the last two years that I've been skiing, the coaches that I've had have at least been very hands-on, and dealing exactly all the time they're on you, and telling you what to do, and constantly giving you feedback, but once you get to the collegiate level, she's got 20-something other athletes to deal with, it's not quite the same, which is perfectly fine, but she's been awesome, in terms of everything of giving me what I need to improve, so it's been great.
Aaron: Give us an idea of what's a typical practice day like for you here.
Arie: Well, at least this semester, usually Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm up at Sunday River all day long, because I don't have any class during the day, so you just get up, get in the van at 7:30, and then train in the morning, until 11 or 11:30, and then you take a break for lunch up there, and then train the afternoon, and come back, and try and do some work if you have the motivation to do so.
Aaron: So up there all day, how many runs is that, typically?
Arie: Kinda depends on my energy level, but anywhere from six runs to twelve runs, I guess, more or less.
Aaron: What are those two years off from school, where you're basically just skiing do for you in terms of your development?
Arie: Well, for ski racing it entirely changed me, because if I ... I couldn't have come in as a true freshman, I guess, and skied for Bates, because my ability was not there, so it changed me entirely, with my technique, and all that with ski racing, but it also just changed who I am as a person in general, just with time management, living by myself, and funding myself, and having to figure out life, I guess. Definitely a change from living at home.
Aaron: Where you were racing during that time?
Arie: So I grew up in Boulder, and I spent ... that was the first 18 years of my life, more or less, and then I spent the last two years in Aspen, after that.
Aaron: Okay, so still Colorado.
Arie: It's still Colorado, but it was fours away from my parents, and I had nothing to with them, really. I mean, I did, but ...
Aaron: So now the adjustment to college must not be a huge one, in terms of being across the country, because you've been living on your own for the past two years?
Arie: Yeah, exactly, it's not a big deal at all.
Aaron: Gotcha. Who are some of your teammates who maybe you've bonded with so far, in your first year here in school?
Arie: I mean, basically, all of them ... I'm not sure if there's one in particular, but coming in, they were all very welcoming, very warm, and brought me into the team right away, and it's been great.
Aaron: Awesome. So do you have any goals, going forward this year, you've set in your mind?
Arie: In terms of goal-setting, I tend to hesitate on some of that stuff, just because mentally it builds up pressure that's unnecessary, but I'm just going to keep working on my skiing, technique-wise, and keep going hard during training, and results will come, hopefully.
Aaron: How excited are you for Bates to be hosting the NCAA regional, this year?
Arie: Oh, yeah, that's going to be sweet, I'm really looking forward to it.
Aaron: Sunday River, what's that course like to practice on and compete on?
Arie: It's not the steepest of hills, it's kinda flat. In term of snow condition, time on snow, and all that, we ... I would guess, probably have one of the better training setups of all the NESCAC schools out here.
Aaron: Just say how so?
Arie: I mean, it's only an hour away, which I guess kinda is a decent drive, but compared to Saint Lawrence, or some of those schools like Boston College, they end up driving an hour 45, or something, every day, and that's one way.
Aaron: Right, yeah.
Arie: And, plus, Sunday River is awesome in terms of giving us hill space when we need it, and really no complaints in terms of our training.
Aaron: Great, well any other thoughts on the season so far, and what you've seen from maybe some of your teammates, about what they've been doing out there on the hill?
Arie: I mean, yeah, the guy's team's definitely been improving a lot especially, from what it seems like, I mean, I wasn't here last year, but there's definitely a lot more competition going on in our team, which is definitely helping us ski better, so that's always good.
Aaron: Alright, Arie van Vuuren, thanks so much.
Arie: Thank you.
Aaron: The swimming and diving teams competed in their final tune-up before the NESCAC Championships when the Bobcats raced at the WPI Invitational. Senior captain Alex Bedard broke his own school record in the 100-IM during the morning prelims and came back in the afternoon to finish first in the final.
Aaron: Next time on the Bates Bobcast, we’ll recap the NESCAC women’s squash championships and how the basketball teams fared in the final regular season games of the year. All that and more, next time, on the Bates Bobcast!