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Seven Owls Qualify for NCAA Track Championships

Crystal Blamy
Crystal Blamy

KEENE, N.H., 3/11/08 - The hard work has already been done. Craig MacPherson, a freshman from Derry, is one of seven Keene State athletes who has qualified for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships that will take place this weekend at Ohio Northern University. But there was still one minor detail he had to take care of before making the trip - get a photo ID.

Unless he planned on running all the way to the meet in Ada, Ohio, McPherson needed to pick up the photo for the plane trip. Unlike most college freshmen, MacPherson never got his drivers license.

“Derry is a small town and everything is fairly central,” said MacPherson, whose mother, Tricia, ironically serves as a driver education instructor at Manchester-West. “Generally I walk or run where I need to go.”

Once at the meet, MacPherson and the rest of the Owl competitors hope to run or jump where they need to go.

MacPherson and Kevin Kelleher (Rocky Hill, Conn.) will run in the mile, Crystal Blamy (Walpole, N.H.) will compete in the high jump, and Jenn Adams (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) will double, running the 5,000-meter race and joining Kate Carr (Scituate Mass.), Kimber Stannard (Higganum, Conn.) , and Krystin Gavin (Brimfield, Mass.) in the distance medley relay.

The largest Keene State contingent to go to the NCAA Championships, also hopes to be its most successful. “This group has a chance to do very well,” said longtime Owl coach Peter Thomas. But you never can take anything for granted.”

Two Owls, Blamy and Adams, enter the meet ranked number one in their respective events. “Being at the top doesn’t mean I’m going to win,” said Blamy, who will be jumping for her third All-America honor in the high jump. “Regardless of what happens, I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been the best in the country throughout the season.”

Blamy’s qualifying mark of 5 feet, 9¼ inches is two inches better than the next competitor.

Adams, who has earned a combined six All-America honors in cross country and track, will be racing the 5,000 for the first time. Adams said it’s a mixed blessing to be ranked first. “It’s just a number. Everyone at the line has a chance to win,” she said. “It comes down to who’s having the better day.”

The Keene State DMR team slid into the second-to-last qualifying spot. The squad features seniors Adams and Gavin and freshmen Carr and Stannard, who are making their first trip to the national meet.

“They’re very scared,” said Thomas about the freshmen. “I just tell them to relax, and let their legs take care of business.”

Having an NCAA veteran like Adams running the final leg of the race should help the Owls. “I know when I get the baton, I’ll do whatever I can to get in the top eight and have an All-America finish,” she said.

MacPherson and Kelleher are ranked fifth and sixth respectively in the mile. Kelleher will be looking to improve on his sixth-place finish at last year’s championship, and MacPherson is looking forward to his first race on the NCAA stage.

“I don’t just want to qualify, I want to make All-America,” said MacPherson. “I’ll just try to stay relaxed and have the same positive attitude that I’ve had all season.”

Both Kelleher and MacPherson will be running trial races on Friday night. Passing on the same advice he received from former KSC All-American Dave Bridgewater, Kelleher told MacPherson to treat his trial like it’s his last race ever and in the finals just go for it.

“Running in New England is one thing, but when you get nationals everyone can run fast,” said Kelleher. “So you got to be able to put the pedal to the metal.”

With or without a license, MacPherson knows what that means.

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