Keene State track and swim teams experienced unprecedented success this winter. Sending its largest contingent to the NCAA Division III track and field championships at Ohio Northern University, the Owls returned home with two national champions, Jennifer Adams and Crystal Blamy, and seven All-America honors. Adams, a senior from Saratoga Springs, New York, put on a national championship performance in the 5,000-meter race with a winning time of 16:58.71. Blamy, the Northeast region Field Athlete of the Year and a two-time All-American, high-jumped over the competition to win with a 5 feet, 7¾ inches leap.
No one, even the highly optimistic coach Jack Fabian, could have fathomed the wave of success that would engulf Owl swim teams this year. At the New England championships, KSC men established 18 records and the women set 15 new marks. The women's team, which captured Little East and NEISDA championships, capped its season by sending its first swimmer ever, Rachel Mondello, to the NCAA DIII championships.
It had been 24 years since Keene State sent athletes to the national meet. Diver Diana Robbins '84 represented KSC at four NCAA championships (1981-84). In 1975 Ron Demers '75 earned All-America honors in the breaststroke. A year later, Demers won the award again and joined Dave Hague '76, Carl Arlig '76, Dan Caron '79, and Newell Roberts '79 as a member of KSC's All-American 400 freestyle relay team.
"It was a great experience," said Mondello, who placed 26th out of 51 competitors. "I tried to treat it like any other meet, but I was nervous. When you step up on the blocks and look across at all the swimmers representing schools from all over the country, you can't help but feel like you're part of something special."
Spring means baseball, and the team not only set a program record for wins in a season (34-11), but also captured the first outright LEC regular season and tournament championships, then made its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Senior Greg Ford (Nashua, New Hampshire), the most outstanding player of the LEC tournament, set a KSC career record for home runs (27) and RBIs (149). Ford also was named to the DIII All-America team, the first Owl baseball player to receive that distinction.
The KSC softball team concluded its season with a 27-14 record. The Owls reached the championship game of the ECAC tournament, where they lost a 6-5 heartbreaker to top-seed Brandeis. Senior Ashlee Nicholson (Swanzey, New Hampshire) set Owl records for career wins (54) and strikeouts (532). Melissa "Mo" Scata (Medway, Massachusetts) became KSC's all-time home run leader (27).
A young, talented Keene State women's lacrosse team tied the program record for wins (13-8) this spring. Setting program records for goals (318), assists (157), and points (475) in a season, the Owls won an opening-round ECAC tournament game against Norwich before falling in the semifinals to Bridgewater State (18-13, in overtime).
The Keene State men's lacrosse team finished its season with a 9-3 record. The Owls finished second in the LEC and were upset by Western Connecticut in the semifinals of the LEC tournament. Junior Tony Santa Fe (Derry, New Hampshire) was named the LEC Offensive Player of the Year and senior Matt Johnson (Derry, New Hampshire) earned LEC Defensive Player of the Year honors for the third season in a row.
Keene State qualified a program-best six athletes for the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships at Wisconsin-Oshkosh at the end of May. The list includes senior Jennifer Adams (Saratoga Springs, New York), competing in the 5K and 10K races, senior Crystal Blamy (Walpole, New Hampshire) in the high jump, junior Samantha Hirsh (Holliston, Massachusetts) in the javelin, sophomore Frank Radlof (Milford, New Hampshire) in the long jump, freshman Craig MacPherson (Derry, New Hampshire) in the 1,500, and freshman Bryan Kolacz (Brentwood, New Hampshire) in the hammer.