Women's distance medley relay team ensures NCAA invite

From left to right, Vanessa Paolella, Imani Boggan, Elise Lambert and Ayden Eickhoff recorded the fastest distance medley relay flat-track time in team history on March 2, 2019 at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet. (Jay Hartshorn)

MEDFORD, Mass. -- Bates women's track and field recorded the fastest flat-track distance medley relay time in team history Saturday at the Tufts National Qualifying Meet, ensuring that the Bobcats will field a DMR team at next week's NCAA Championships.

The team -- composed of sophomore Vanessa Paolella (Dingmans Ferry, Pa.) in the opening 1,200-meter leg, sophomore Imani Boggan (Lafayette, Calif.) in the 400 meters, first-year Elise Lambert (Amherst, N.H.) in the 800 meters and senior Ayden Eickhoff (Corvallis, Mont.) in the 1,600 meters -- completed the race in 11:51.33, beating the former team flat-track record of 11:51.93, which earned fourth place at the 2017 NCAA Championships by Sarah Rothmann, Claire Markonic, Eickhoff and Jessica Wilson. It will likely stand as the eighth-best time out of 12 squads heading into next week's NCAA Division III Championships, being hosted by UMass-Boston at the Reggie Lewis Center.

Also competing Saturday for Bates:

  • Running the 4x400 relay, first-year Rebecca Willis (West Newbury, Mass.), sophomore Amanda Kaufman (Somers, Conn.), first-year Sophie Matt (New Albany, Ohio) and first-year Mary Corcoran (Brookline, Mass.) finished in 4:01.75. Converted to a banked track, the time (3:58.59) puts the squad at No. 47 in the Division III rankings.
  • Senior Katie Hughes (Pittsfield, Maine) threw the 20-pound weight 48 feet and 2 inches.
  • Senior Shelby Burns (Uniontown, Pa.) high-jumped 5-1.
  • Kaufman ran the 60-meter hurdles in 9.46 seconds, well off her season-best 9.06.

The NCAA Division III Indoor Track & Field Championships take place March 8-9 in Boston. With 17 athletes in each individual event and 12 teams in each relay event, Bates is likely to qualify two athletes in the 800 meters (Eickhoff, Lambert), one in the mile (Eickhoff) and senior Katie Barker (Burlington, Vt.) in the 3,000 meters.