Release Five: From Hilltoppers to Huskies - The Women's Track and Field Teams' Sustained Excellence

Just in time for the Maine State Championship meet and the Little East Conference Championship, this edition of From Hilltoppers to Huskies: 50 Years of Women's Athletics at USM, focuses on our dominant women's indoor track and field team and a few of the student-athletes who have helped sustain its nearly two-decade dominance of the LEC.
Just in time for the Maine State Championship meet and the Little East Conference Championship, this edition of From Hilltoppers to Huskies: 50 Years of Women's Athletics at USM, focuses on our dominant women's indoor track and field team and a few of the student-athletes who have helped sustain its nearly two-decade dominance of the LEC.

January Edition: From Hilltoppers to Huskies Presented by UCU

With a longstanding tradition of women's athletics, some of the earliest incarnations of the University of Southern Maine supported women in sport. Starting with interclass basketball in 1918 and culminating with the official creation of women's intercollegiate athletics in 1967, for 50 years, USM, and its predecessor schools, have supported women's participation in athletics.

 In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Women's Intercollegiate Athletics, the Huskies' Department of Athletics will highlight some of its top student-athletes, coaches and administrators, past and present.  In addition to the varied profiles, the USM Department of Athletics will host a celebration of its 50 Years of Women's Intercollegiate Athletics on Saturday, February 4 to coincide with the women's basketball and ice hockey games at the Costello Sports Complex.  During both the women's ice hockey and basketball games, special presentations will be made at intermission featuring prominent alumnae student-athletes including basketball All-American and all-time leading scorer Maureen Burchill; four-time women's ice hockey captain and recent Husky Hall of Fame inductee Breanne Fortiguerra Sanderson; Dr. Paula Hodgdon, the matriarch of USM women's athletics, USM President Dr. Glenn Cummings and many more.  For those in attendance there will also be several in-game raffles and contests. See schedule of events below

Following the games, USM will host a special event at Spire 29 in Gorham (6:00 p.m.).  The Spire 29 event is open to USM student-athlete alumnae.  An RSVP is required: 50 Years of USM Women's Athletics RSVP  


For more information about the event: CLICK HERE

Seasons before women's indoor and outdoor track and field became a reality at the University of Southern Maine, the Huskies boasted an All-American in Angela Welchel.  Welchel, competing as an individual before the formal creation of a fully supported track and field program, earned All-American status in the 400-meter hurdles in the Spring of 1991 … Perhaps unkowingly laying the foundation for program's success over the next three decades.

Huskies' women's indoor track and field grew organically from the labors of USM's cross country student-athletes wishing to stay in shape and compete in the off-season, and with head coach George Towle willing to put in the effort, USM student-athletes began competing as individuals in track and field beginning in 1987. 

Prior to the formal backing of a track and field program from the University, USM's early track and field student-athletes displayed true commitment and desire to compete,  fundraising or use their own personal funds to compete in various events. Their grit and determination paid dividends, as Huskies' track and field came to fruition in 1995 becoming the sixth official intercollegiate sport for women. And three years later, with the construction and the development of the Costello Sports Complex Fieldhouse, USM's women's track and field began to assert its dominance.

The Southern Maine women's indoor and outdoor track & field teams have been the class of the Little East Conference.  For the indoor season, Southern Maine has captured the Little East Conference crown consecutively since 2001, and 17 out of the 18 Little East Conference Championship meets.  The Huskies have dominated the outdoor season as well capturing the LEC trophy every season since the year 2000 and 18 of the 19 available titles.

 2001 USM Women's Track and Field

Huskies' indoor track and field athletes have been recognized by the conference for their outstanding achievements earning numerous major awards from the conference since the inception of LEC awards program in 2008.  Three student-athletes have earned the conference Track Athlete of the Year: Emily Artesani (2009), Molly Carl (2012), Peyton Dostie (2013, 2015, 2016), and two have earned Field Athlete of the Year: Bethany Dumas (2010) and Peyton Dostie (2015).   Additionally, USM track & field athletes have been named the Rookie Track Athlete of the Year once Hannah Wiley (2012) and Rookie Field Athlete of the Year Bethany Dumas (2009), Christina Massey (2010), Hannah Wiley (2012), Ashley Belanger (2015).  USM's staff has been recognized as the Staff of the Year seven times (2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016).

Since the establishment of major award programs for the outdoor season, two student-athletes Molly Carl (2012) and Peyton Dostie (2015) have been named the conference Track Athlete of the Year, and Bethany Dumas (2010, 2011, 2012) earned Field Athlete of the Year. Three student-athletes have been named the Rookie Track Athlete of the Year Molly Carl (2011), Hannah Damron (2014) and Heather Kendall (2016).  Three student-athletes have earned Rookie Field Athlete of the Year: Bethany Dumas (2009), Nikole Robbins (2010) and Hannah Wiley (2012) and the Huskies' coaching staff has earned accolades six times (2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016). 

At the national level, USM has consistently sent numerous student-athletes to the NCAA Division III National Championship in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, ranging from its first All-American Angela Welchel through its national competitors during the 2015-2016 seasons: Nicole Kirk (indoor & outdoor), Peyton Dostie (indoor & outdoor), Molly Gibeault (outdoor), Liz O'Neal (outdoor) and Heather Kendall (outdoor). With so many student-athletes who have achieved remarkable success it is hard to narrow it down; however, no matter who is written about their achievements are worthy. 

Bethany Dumas: USM's First Two Event All-American

After earning Rookie Field Athlete of the Year honors for both the indoor and outdoor seasons in 2009, multi-event athlete Bethany Dumas made her presence felt in the Huskies' roster, and helped sustain USM's Little East Conference championship dominance throughout her career (2008-2012). 

During her time in Gorham, Dumas earned four more major Little East Conference awards, earning Indoor Field Athlete of the Year honors in 2010, and then sweeping the Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year honors consecutively in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Her versatility and ability allowed her to compete at a high level in multiple events earning either all-conference and all-region honors in the pole vault, javelin, 100-meter hurdles and 400-meter hurdles.

Dumas capped her legendary four-year career earning All-America honors in the javelin at the NCAA Division III Championship in May of 2012, finishing fifth in the event with a school record throw of 43.01 meters (141-1). However, it was not the first All-American honor of her career, as Dumas achieved All-American status in the pole vault in May of 2011 – becoming the first USM student-athlete to achieve the accolade in two different disciplines.

Dumas' achievement, noteworthy on its own, is even more impressive considering the obstacles cleared along the way (pun intended).  It was uncertain if Dumas was going to be given the opportunity to compete at the NCAA National Championship in her final season despite positioning herself among the nation's best in her sport throughout her career.  During her final indoor season, Dumas was completing an internship with the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah, as part of her Recreation and Leisure Studies major at Southern Maine.  Missing the first half of the indoor season, Dumas came back to Gorham, and helped lead USM to victory at the LEC Championship, winning the pole vault, scoring points in the 400-meter dash, 55-meter hurdles, and as a member of the 4 x 200, 4 x 400 relay teams.

Returning to form, Dumas continued to play a pivotal role in numerous events and was preparing for a final season as a member of the Huskies' outdoor track & field team when she was struck by a vehicle while riding her bike home from the USM campus in Gorham. Hospitalized for a few days, and banged up from the collision, Dumas missed less than a full week's practice and was back to competition, and placed first at the North Florida Invitational – the Huskies' first meet of 2012 outdoor season.  Dumas then went on to help USM to its 13th straight Little East Conference championship, claiming her fourth consecutive title in the pole vault, while scoring points in the 100-meter hurdles (third), 400-meter hurdles (fifth), and javelin (third). 

As the championship season progressed, Dumas continued to assert herself, and at the NEIcAAA New England Championship – a meet that features teams from Division I, II and III schools – Dumas set a then personal best in the javelin with a throw of 41.88 meters (137-5) to place third and earn All-New England honors, setting her up for a potential berth into the NCAA Division III Championship for the event. As it were, Dumas' throw at the NEIcAAA championship was indeed good enough to meet qualifying standards for the third consecutive season in the javelin, and she set off to the 2012 NCAA Division III Championships in Claremont, Calif., along with teammates Molly Carl and Hannah Wiley.

Going head-to-head with the top Division III javelin athletes in the nation, Dumas moved herself into All-American status with the second of her three throws in the final round.  Dumas' throw of 43.01 meters (141-1) not only vaulted her into fifth place at the championship, but it broke an eight-year-old record set by former Husky All-American Kristen Sinclair (140-8) set in March of 2004, and cemented her place in the storied history of USM women's track and field as the first USM student-athlete to earn All-America honors in two events.

Years after her graduation, Dumas' mark is still found in the Huskies' record books as she holds the Huskies' javelin record with a throw of 141-08, and until last season's record breaking effort by current Husky junior Molly Gibeault (12-4.00), Dumas held the pole vault record clearing 12-00.00.  Dumas is also in the top 10 in the 100-meter hurdles, 400-meter hurdles and as a member of the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relay teams.

Dumas is still involved in the world of track and field.  Following her graduation from USM, Dumas went on to earn her Master's Degree in Exercise Science and Sports Studies at Smith College while serving as an assistant coach, and is presently an assistant coach with the Amherst College women's cross country and track and field teams.

Peyton Dostie: USM's First Female National Champion

For most, learning that a full-time college student found the time to compete in three sports would alone be enough to leave a positive impression. Toss in the fact that the student-athlete is a dual major – Business Administration and Marketing – and has a two-page list of athletic accomplishments and awards, including a national championship title, and it is enough to leave anyone wondering how the balance was made?

But that is just par for the course for USM's first female national champion Peyton Dostie. Fittingly, Dostie earned her national title in the pentathlon – an event that requires excellence in five distinct disciplines in a grueling time frame.

 An outstanding field hockey player, Dostie, a two-time Little East Conference Player of the Year (2013, 2014), holds five school records and earned first team all-region honors.  But those accolades, as impressive as they are, pale in comparison to her achievements as a member of the Huskies' indoor and outdoor track and field teams.

At the conclusion of her career, Dostie held 13 school records, earned the Little East Conference Track Athlete and the Little East Conference Field Athlete of the Year honors on multiple occasions as was a four-time All-American.  

Dostie achieved her first All-American honor during the 2015 Indoor Track and Field Championship in the pentathlon – the same year she swept the LEC's Track Athlete of the Year and Field Athlete of the Year honor.  Later that Spring, during the outdoor season, Dostie picked up her second All-America nod in the 400-meter hurdles. With two standout performances to her credit at the end of her third season with the Huskies' indoor and outdoor track and field teams, Dostie had set the bar high for herself.

However, Dostie's final seasons on the track met and surpassed those expectations. In a season of titles and championships, Dostie earned spots in the NCAA Division III National Championship in both the pentathlon and the 60-meter hurdles.  Over the course of the season, Dostie claimed the Maine State Intercollegiate, the Little East Conference, the New England Alliance, and the ECAC Division III title in the 60-meter hurdle.  And in the pentathlon, Dostie claimed the top spot in the pentathlon at the New England Division III Championship, setting a meet and school record while establishing two school records during the competition in the 60-meter hurdles, high jump (1.63 meters).  Dostie's score of 3444 points earned her a third straight New England championship in the event, and a spot in the NCAA Division III National Championship for the third consecutive year. 

Dostie's 2015 appearance in the national championship was nothing short of spectacular.  Competing at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa, Dostie took the lead from the outset of the event and never trailed finishing first among the 17 competitores in the first event, the 60-meter hurdles, with a time of 8.81.  Continuing to the second event of the day, Dostie set a new school record in the high jump (1.64 meters) to add to her lead. 

Dostie continued her remarkable performance continued as she set a personal best in the shot put, before taking the top spot in the long jump with a leap of 5.34 meters to take a comfortable lead into the final event, the 800 meter run. Having to add to the challenge and the historic achievement of the day, Dostie also managed to qualify for the finals of the 60-meter hurdles championship in a qualifying heat in the midst of her pentathlon competition before heading to the final heat of the 800-meter run.

Needing only to finish, Dostie seized the event, grabbing the lead at the start and pulling away from her competition to not only finish the event, but to post the best time of the day at 2:20.83, securing her second All-American status in the event, and claiming the National Championship.  With the national title in hand, Dostie came back the next day, and earned All-America honor in the 60-meter hurdles for her fourth All-American honor of her career.

And as USM's first female athlete to win an NCAA National Championship, the University and Dostie have many reasons to be proud. Dostie will be speaking this weekend, February 4, as part of USM's 50 Years of Women's Athletics Celebration. A two-time William B. Wise Scholar-Athlete, Dostie has begun a career in Marketing and is working as an collegiate track and field assistant coach. 

You can catch the 2016-2017 Huskies' women's indoor track and field team hosting the Maine State Intercollegiate Championship (6:00 p.m.) at the Costello Sport Complex Field House.  And, next weekend, USM will look to defend its 16 consecutive conference titles on Saturday, February 11 also at the Costello Sports Complex.