The Ithaca College women’s track and field team is gearing up for another exciting season of competition this spring.
With a strong group of returning athletes and a talented group of 13 newcomers, the Bombers are poised for a successful campaign. Head coach Jennifer Potter said she is optimistic and expects strong performances from all athletes.
“Recently, [graduate student pentathlete] Logan Bruce just broke an -year school record,” Potter said. “That record was previously held by Emma Dewart [’12], who was a two-time National Champion in the pentathlon.”
Bruce, a fifth-year physical therapy major, has a long list of accomplishments to her name. She placed fifth in the heptathlon at the NCAA Outdoor All-American and secured second place in the pentathlon at the NCAA Indoor All-American, both in 2022. She was also named the 2022 Liberty League Indoor Field Athlete of the Year, among various other honors.
Bruce said one of her individual goals this season is to return to Nationals in both the indoor and outdoor seasons with a good performance.
“This is my last year, so I want to go there and have a performance that I’m proud of,” Bruce said.
Bruce said this year has been particularly challenging in terms of trying to balance school, life, work and track, which she said has become harder for her to do in graduate school. The team culture of track, however, is one of the things that keeps her going.
“With the girls and the teammates I’m surrounded by, we have a good culture of having fun at practice and working really hard,” Bruce said. “We do a lot of homework together, and we try to spend a lot of time together, making sure that everybody knows that they’re supported in all different aspects, whether it’s socially or in school. … It really is a big family culture, and I think that really contributes to the successes we’ve been having so far.”
Potter has also played a vital role in Bruce’s support system throughout her entire collegiate career. Bruce said Potter is the type of coach who makes sure her team is working hard but also taking care of themselves and each other and having fun.
“She does a pretty good job of rolling with the punches and making sure that each kid gets their needs met,” Bruce said.
One of Bruce’s biggest goals this season is to secure the Liberty League title, a goal echoed by Potter and senior distance runner Ava Fowler.
Fowler said that defending the conference title is something everyone on the team has dialed into — both during the indoor season and the approaching outdoor season.
“In indoor, [the team] is trying to defend our Liberty League title, and I think getting our title back in the spring is something we are very focused on,” Fowler said.
Fowler said her personal goals this season are to prevent any injuries that could hinder her performance and to prevent the burnout that can come with being a three-season athlete — cross-country in the fall and track in the winter and spring. As a graduating senior, Fowler said her performance this season is especially important to her.
“It’s my last year on the team, so I feel like I’m trying not to take anything for granted and not waiting till the last second to do something,” Fowler said. “I’m trying to accomplish more in the beginning of this season than I think I have in years past.”
Fowler is one of the seniors that Potter said she has high hopes for this season. Others include graduate student and senior pole vaulters Meghan Matheny and Martha Kemp-Neilson, graduate student middle-distance runner Paloma De Monte, senior pentathlete Moriah Byrd and senior long-distance runner Meredith Garrity.
Potter said she also expects strong performances from some first-year students.
“[Distance runner] Jessica Goode and [distance runner] Joy Petersen, both first-year [students], went to the Nationals in cross country,” Potter said.
Potter said she is excited for a season that actually feels “post-COVID” after the past few years of heavy restrictions on gatherings.
“We are hopefully past COVID experiences, so meetings this season are hopefully going to be fairly back to normal as far as spectators and protocols,” Potter said. “Having spectators at competitions is really big for any program.”
Potter also said she foresees the University of Rochester being the team’s toughest competition this year in the Liberty League.
“They beat us outdoors last year,” Potter said. “It’s the first time we’ve lost the league since we were in the conference, so I think they’ll be our biggest competition indoors,” Potter said.
The outdoor schedule has not been finalized yet, but the Bombers wrap up indoor competition at the NCAA National Championships on March 10 and 11 before starting up the next season.