NEW LONDON, Mass.--Five members of the Connecticut College track & field program have qualified for the 2016 NCAA Championship.
Junior Bella Franz of Water Mill, N.Y. will represent the Camel Women's Track & Field Team. Franz is seeded sixth in the 800 meters. The men's distance medley relay team comprised of senior Niall Williams of Scotia, N.Y, sophomores Christian Whitaker of Dolton, Ill. and Connor Trapp of Wilmette, Ill. along with junior Ben Bosworth of Dorchester, Mass. will be seeded ninth in the Championship field. The Championship is being hosted by Grinnell College on March 11-12 at their on-campus facility, the Charles Benson Bear '39 Recreation and Athletic Center in Grinnell, Iowa.
It's been a memorable season for Franz, who will be running in the 800 meters on Friday afternoon at 5:20 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The top two finishers in each of two trial heats along with the next four fastest individual finishers from either heat will advance to Saturday's finals which will get underway at 4:55 p.m. EST in the Hawkeye State. A total of 17 women will be running in the trials, with the eight finalists being honored as All-Americans.
Earlier this fall, Franz returned to the cross country lineup to help lead her team to a 10th place finish in the New England Division III Championship, placing 72nd with a 6k time of 23:11 in her first race of the season.
In addition to her ranking in the 800 meters, Franz is also ranked #11 nationally in the mile and is part of the Camel distance medley relay team that is ranked 38th in the nation.
Franz broke school records this winter in the 800 meters (2:11.50), the 1000 meters (2:56.56), and the mile (4:54.71). She also holds school records in the outdoor 800 meters (2:11.87), the 1500 meters (4:39.16), the distance medley relay (11:54.79), and the indoor 4x400 meter relay (4:04.57). Franz is a two-time New England Division III individual champion, winning the 1000 meters this season and the 800 meters during the 2014 indoor season.
Franz will be making her third appearance at an NCAA Championship this week. She helped lead the Camels' distance medley relay team to a 10th place finish at the 2014 NCAA Indoor Championship hosted by Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. She ran the lead-off 1200-meter leg and teamed up with Amanda Jacobsen '17 of Stafford Springs, Conn., Caroline Leonard '16 of Hingham, Mass., and Kim Bolick '15 of Hopkinton, Mass. as the first relay team in program history to compete at the national meet.
At the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championship hosted by Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, Ohio, Franz placed 10th overall in the 800 meter trials. Franz has been nationally ranked in each of the indoor and outdoor seasons in her career in various events that include the 800 meters, 1500 meters, mile, and distance medley relay.
The aforementioned men's DMR team is making history as the first Camel men's relay team to receive a national berth. Williams will run the lead-off 1200 meters leg, Whitaker will run the 400 meter leg, Trapp will run the 800 meter leg, and Bosworth will anchor the team on the 1600 meter leg.
The distance medley relay will be contested as a 12-team final on Friday at 7:50 pm Eastern Standard Time. The top eight finishing teams will earn All-America honors. This talented foursome has already broken the school record twice this winter.
At the NEICAAA Championship hosted by Boston University February 26, the Camels posted a time of 9:55.00 to place fourth in the field and first among Division III competition. The Camels garnered All-New England honors for placing in the top eight. The same quartet also ran a then-school record of 9:56.82 two weeks earlier at the BU Valentine Invitational on the same track, besting all Division III competition in Beantown.
Connecticut College is also ranked 13th on the national performance list with a second distance medley relay team that posted a time of 10:04.69 at the Tufts University Final Qualifier in Medford, Mass. on Friday evening. Sophomore Andrew Peterson of Wallingford, Conn. ran the 400 meter leg in place of Whitaker, with the other three legs being the same. The Camels would have qualified for nationals with that performance as well.
Prior to this season, the Connecticut College school record was 9:57.30. Bosworth, Ian Rathkey '14, Williams and Michael LeDuc '14, the College's first three-time NCAA Champion and a nine-time All-American in cross country and track & field, established their record in 2014.
More Information on the Distance Medley Relay Team
Niall Williams '16 of Scotia, N.Y.:
Williams has twice finished second in the 1000 meters at the New England Division III Championship, earlier this season and also in 2014. He has run the second-fastest time in program history in that event (2:29.33) and also ranks #5 in program history in the mile. His 1200 meter relay split of 3:01.97 is the best in school history, and he is a member of the school record 4x800 meter relay team. Williams earned All-Region honors in cross country this fall, and he has been named to the USTFCCCA All-Academic team in cross country and track on multiple occasions.
Christian Whitaker '18 of Dolton, Ill.:
Whitaker is also a member of the Camels' indoor school-record setting 4x400 meter relay team. He has now run on the three fastest indoor 4x400 meter relays in school history. Whitaker has also run the third-fastest indoor 200 meters ever by a Camel, and his best 400 meter relay split is 50.17.
Connor Trapp '18 of Wilmette, Ill.:
Trapp broke the 36-year old indoor school record in the 800 meters this winter (1:54.12) and he has run a program-best 800 meter relay split of 1:52.60. Trapp is also #3 on Conn's all-time lists in the mile (4:11.86) and the 1000 meters (2:31.14). His mile time was ranked #28 in the country this winter. Trapp ran the leadoff leg on the indoor school record 4x800 meter relay team a year ago.
Ben Bosworth '17 of Dorchester, Mass:
Bosworth earned All-New England honors in the mile this winter and has run on many key relay teams in his three years on the squad. His 1600 meter relay split best of 4:08.61 is the second-fastest in school history behind 3-time national champion Michael LeDuc '14. Bosworth has been nationally ranked for two straight years in the 3000 meters and added a national ranking in the mile to his resume this winter. His 3000 meter personal best of 8:25.31 is second all-time for the Camels, and he is also ranked #2 all-time in the 1500 meters (3:52.85). Bosworth ran the anchor leg on the school-record indoor 4x800 meter relay team last winter.