NO MATTER where she finishes at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships this week, Emma Wheeler has already achieved her season-long goal.
After narrowly missing qualifying for the national meet last year and the indoor edition this past winter, the junior from Meredith finally did so this spring.
Wheeler achieved the feat by winning her first Division III New England championship in the heptathlon last weekend, earning All-New England honors.
The Inter-Lakes High School graduate won both the long jump and javelin, set a school record in the high jump (1.58 meters) and personal-best marks in the 200-meter dash (26.93 seconds), 100-meter hurdles (15.45 seconds) and long jump (5.39 meters) en route to a personal-best overall score of 4,525 points at the New Englands.
The heptathlon at the Division III championships, which is being held at the University of Rochester, began Thursday and will conclude today.
“I wanted to make it (to nationals) so badly,” Wheeler said in a phone interview from Rochester after practice on Wednesday. “It was just my one main goal, so making it here, I feel like I’ve already competed here basically just because I’ve made it, so I need to remember that I’m actually doing a multi here.”
Wheeler, who also plays for the Connecticut College volleyball team, won the javelin at the New Englands with her mark of 32.57 meters. She also placed third in the high jump and shot put (10.53 meters), fifth in the 200 dash and eighth in the 800-meter run with an outdoor personal-best time of 2:41.54.
Wheeler entered the New Englands seeded second and expected that was where she would finish. Going into the 800 run, the heptathlon’s last event, Wheeler had no idea she was in position to win it.
Wheeler edged out Middlebury College freshman Emily Rubio (4,477 points), who had beaten Wheeler in the pentathlon at the Division III New England Indoor Track and Field Championships in March.
“Just knowing that I had three PRs on the first day really helped me and carried me into that second day with a lot of energy,” Wheeler said, “because waking up for that second day of the heptathlon is kind of a grind. You feel like you got hit by a bus but knowing that you’re off on a good start is really encouraging and gets the energy up.”
Wheeler considers the javelin, shot put and hurdles her best heptathlon events. She entered the nationals feeling confident about the shot put after making a recent adjustment in her technique — keeping her chest up and releasing higher. That change led her to a personal-best mark of 11.64 meters (up from 11.14 meters) last week at the MIT Final Qualifier meet.
While the 800 run is her least favorite and what she considers her weakest event, Wheeler this season cut 14 seconds off her best time from last year. Wheeler credited that improvement to her coaches adding longer distance workouts to her training.
During her practices this week before the nationals, Wheeler focused heavily on bettering her hurdles technique like snapping her leg down quicker and continuing to sprint through.
“This has definitely been my best season by far,” Wheeler said. “I’ve improved way more than I thought I would and it’s just been really fun.”
UNH’s McGrath a nominee for America East Man of the Year
University of New Hampshire graduate student and Hopkinton resident Kevin McGrath is a nominee for the America East Conference 2023 Man of the Year award.
To be nominated for the America East Man or Woman of the Year awards, student-athletes must have completed intercollegiate eligibility in their primary sport, received their undergraduate degree before the end of the summer term and have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.5.
The three finalists will be announced next Wednesday and the winners at the conference’s annual awards dinner on June 7.
McGrath will compete in the high jump in the first round of the NCAA East Preliminaries this weekend at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida. He currently ranks first in the America East and second in the Northeast Region in the event.
The Hopkinton High School graduate won the New England Championship in the outdoor high jump, placed second in the event at the America East Outdoor Championships and set a school record of 2.09 meters at the Virginia Challenge meet earlier this season.
Dartmouth makes Linda Cimino new women’s basketball coach
Dartmouth College announced the hiring of Linda Cimino as its new women’s basketball head coach.
Cimino, a native of Lincoln, Rhode Island, spent the past five seasons leading St. Francis College in Brooklyn, New York. The school eliminated its athletics program at the end of this spring semester.
Cimino led St. Francis to three of the program’s four winning seasons in its history, including a program-best 13-3 Northeast Conference record during the 2021-22 season.Prior to her stint with the Terriers, Cimino was the head coach at Binghamton University for four seasons, earning the America East Coach of the Year award in 2015-16. She also previously served eight years as the head coach at Division II Caldwell University, leaving the program as its all-time winningest coach with 128 victories.
NCAA Div. I lacrosse appearances for Granite Staters McNeal, Clark
Windham resident Tommy McNeal and the No. 2 University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team will play No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday in the NCAA Division I Final Four at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.
McNeal, a redshirt freshman and long-stick midfielder, has played in all 16 games for the Cavaliers (13-3), recording 21 ground balls. The New Hampton School graduate logged a season-high six ground balls in Virginia’s 25-8 win over Richmond on March 4.
Bedford’s Dawson Clark finished his freshman season at Army West Point with five goals, two assists and three ground balls. The Bishop Guertin graduate scored his final goal of the season in the Black Knights’ 16-15 triumph over defending national champion Maryland in the opening round of the NCAA Division I tournament.
Army fell, 10-9, to Penn State on Sunday in its first quarterfinal appearance since 2010.
Honors for SNHU’s Auger, Plymouth State trio
Southern New Hampshire University attackman Ryan Auger, a senior from Hampstead, was named an All-Region North Team honorable mention by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association on Tuesday. Auger led the Penmen in scoring and finished 14th in the Northeast-10 Conference in points with 50 on 23 goals and 27 assists. ...
Plymouth State University’s Trevor O’Mara, a senior wrestler from Litchfield, Autumn Nelson, a senior women’s lacrosse player from Weare, and Taylor Healey, a junior field hockey player from Campton, received At-Large Academic All-District honors.
To be eligible for the honor, a student-athlete must be at least a sophomore academically, a starter or important reserve member of their team, own at least a 3.5 cumulative GPA, have participated in at least half of the team’s games and been at their current school for one full academic year.