DURHAM, N.H. – After an impressive opening to the indoor season, the University of New Hampshire women's track & field team is primed for a strong run at the America East Championships, led by a trio of veteran distance runners with a pair of record-setting performances.
The tandem of graduate student Allison Letourneau (Kingston, Nova Scotia), senior Sydney Fitzpatrick (Billerica, Mass.) and junior Keely Maguire (Georgetown, Mass.) has combined for nine top-three finishes this season, including six individual victories and one relay win heading into the dual-meet against Vermont on Feb. 11.
Individually, Letourneau has racked up three first-place finishes, highlighted by a school record-setting victory in the 1,000 meters at a home quad-meet against Holy Cross, Stonehill and Worcester State. She crossed the finish line in an ECAC-qualifying time of 2:48.16, breaking both the indoor school record and the facility record. The previous school record was held by Katie Litwenowich, who set the mark in 2002 with a time of 2:48.82.
"Honestly, I didn't set out to break any records that day," said Letourneau, who accomplished the feat on UNH's Paul Sweet Oval. "But doing in on that track gave me confidence, and it gives me confidence heading into conference championships running a shorter distance."
Letourneau's mark was also a Nova Scotia indoor provincial record and stands as the fastest 1,000-meter time by a Canadian this season. Additionally, Letourneau has been a model of improvement and versatility this season as she has set personal-best times in each of her three victories, all in different events.
Fitzpatrick, who earned all-conference cross country honors in the fall, broke the school record in the 5,000 meters at the Terrier Classic. She finished fourth in a time of 16:17.62, breaking Erica Jesseman's previous record of 16:24 from last season. The record-breaking run also qualified her for the ECAC Championships.
"That was a competitive race and featured some elite competition, which helped," said Fitzpatrick, about being pushed to the school record. "It's harder to run a race by yourself."
While Fitzpatrick's time was ranked third nationally at the time and still ranks in the top-10 in the event, she is just shy of the NCAA qualifying standard of 15:57.00, but is still on pace to qualify as one of the top-16 times for automatic qualification.
Maguire is coming off a strong cross country campaign, earning all-conference and all-region accolades after a 24th-place finish at the NCAA Northeast Regional meet. The junior has continued to shine on the track this winter, as she posted a top finish in the mile and turned-in a third-place finish in the 3,000 meters at the Terrier Classic, running in a time of 9:36.35 for the third fastest time in the history of the program.
"I think these three epitomize what UNH athletics is all about. They're all really strong in the classroom, on the track and in cross country," said assistant coach Robert Hoppler. "The way that those three have been able to work as a team, is a continuation of what we did in the fall, training hard and pushing each other in practice."
The Wildcats play host to Vermont on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 12 p.m. before heading to the America East Championships on Feb. 17-18 at Boston University's Track and Tennis Center.