|Brittany Bowman is Tufts' first female indoor distance champion|
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tufts University senior co-captain Brittany Bowman won the NCAA Division III Women's Indoor Track & Field championship in the 5,000 meters to highlight an excellent first day at the national meet for the Jumbos on Friday.
Bowman ran a school-record time of 16:31.32 to win her first national title and the 16th by the Jumbo women's indoor and outdoor program since the NCAA meets began in 1982. Bowman won today's race by five seconds over Ithaca's Taryn Cordani (16:36.83), who is the NCAA Division III meet record-holder in the event set last year. Bowman was seeded seventh out of the 17 entries in the race with a qualifying time of 16:58.08.
Also on Friday, senior co-captain Annalisa DeBari started the day for Tufts by lowering her own school record in the 60-meter hurdles to 8.79 in the preliminaries. She had the second-fastest time in the heats, behind only an 8.67 by Geneva senior Nicole Bartoletta in the same heat. DeBari will run in the NCAA 60-meter hurdles final on Saturday at 3:10 p.m. ET.
Bowman chopped almost 11 seconds off the previous Tufts indoor 5K record of 16:42.23 set by Cat Beck 11 years ago in 2007. Bowman is Tufts women's track & field's first national champion since Jana Hieber won the 400 hurdles outdoors in 2014. It's the first indoor national championship since the 2009 distance medley relay. This is the Tufts women's program's first distance title since Nancy Benson won the outdoor 3K in 1988, and it is also Tufts Athletics' 10th individual title in any sport since 2010.
By becoming the first Tufts woman to win an indoor distance title, Bowman also received the sixth All-American honor of her career. She has now earned the national recognition in five straight track and cross country seasons. Starting with her junior cross country season in 2016 when she was 18th at the NCAA Championship, she has also been eighth in the 5K indoors last March, fifth in the 10K outdoors last May and 11th at the cross country Nationals this past November.
Not finished at the NCAA meet yet, Bowman will race in a straight final for the 3,000 meters title on Saturday at 5:45 p.m. ET. She's the fourth seed in the 3,000 with a 9:40.91 adjusted mark.
"My game plan was to be in the front, but not lead," Bowman said in an email from Alabama. "I wanted to follow and try to hang on as long as I could. Luckily my race strategy worked out and I fell in second for the entire race. I was feeling good during the entire race and waited until 600 meters to kick and passed the girl leading (Taryn Cordani). I was positive and confident during the race and believed in myself which I think helped a lot. Once I took the lead I knew there was no turning back and I went for it. I'm extremely happy and now I'm ready to recover and run the 3k tomorrow!"
For DeBari, it's the third time this season that she has broken the Jumbo record in the 60 hurdles. Marilyn Allen's 8.84 from 2016 was the record entering the season before DeBari posted 8.83, 8.80 and now 8.79 marks all within the last month. She will be looking to repeat as an All-American in the event after placing fifth last season.
Tufts also had an entry in the distance medley relay on Friday. The Jumbo foursome of sophomore Rhemi Toth, sophomore Julia Gake, freshman Olivia Martin and junior Sarah Perkins placed 10th with a 12:04.56 time.
With 10 team points earned by Bowman's victory, Tufts is tied for sixth place at the end of one day with six events scored. Bowman in the 3K and DeBari in the 60 hurdles final will look to add to that total on the final day of the championship tomorrow.
The 2018 championship is being held at the Birmingham CrossPlex in Alabama.