June 13, 2003
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Although a top conference finish again eluded the Maryland women's outdoor track team, the squad boasted a surplus of individual accomplishments that created a highly successful 2003 season. As during the indoor season, the Terps reset several school and personal records, despite injuries faced by several key players.
The prolific accomplishments set this season by senior Natalie Dye solidified her name in women's track program history. The pole vaulter reset her own school record three times, culminating with a height of 12-9.5 set at the Penn Relays. Dye was this year's ECAC pole vaulting champion, earning All-East distinction once again. She also took All-Conference honors, finishing second in the ACC. Her success not limited to the regular season, Dye finished fourth at the NCAA East Regional Championships, paving the way for her first-ever appearance at the NCAA Championships. She tied her school record height in Sacramento-the second-best height posted at the championships-and tied for 15th in the nation.
Joining her in making headlines this season was an unexpected hero-freshman distance runner Shari Gorga. Gorga took on the 3,000 meter steeplechase for the first time ever at the Maryland Invitational and finished just four seconds behind the school record set by Marjorie Bollinger in 2001. In just her second time running the event, she smashed Bollinger's time by nearly 45 seconds, posting a 11:33.60 at the Patriot Open. Also running well for the distance squad were freshmen Allison Carney and Danielle Siebert as well as senior Kim Smith. Smith twice broke her personal record in the 5,000 meter run, concluding a highly illustrious track career.
The Terp jumpers were the strongest athletes for the team this year, led by freshman Kierra Foster. Foster began the season well, setting a new school record of 20-8 in the long jump at the Alabama Relays. She went on to qualify for the ECAC Championships and the NCAA Regionals in the long jump. A multitalented performer, she excelled in the 100 meter hurdles and triple jump as well, taking in multiple top-five finishes in both. Junior long jumper Heather Houston had a strong season as well, winning the event at the Patriot Open with a season-best 19-5.75. This qualified her for the ECAC Championships and also the NCAA Regionals.
Junior Toni Jefferson led the way in the sprints, winning the 200 meter dash at the Maryland Invitational and taking second place at the James Madison Invitational. An ECAC fifth-place finisher in the 200 meter dash, Jefferson also competed in the 4x400 meter relay, helping the squad advance to the ECAC Championships and NCAA Regionals. Jefferson's teammate in the 4x400 was junior Teyarnte' Carter, who had a strong campaign in the 100 meter dash this season. She won the event at the Maryland Invitational and finished fifth at the ACC Championships with a season-best time of 11.98.
Another standout athlete for the Terps was senior Aranda Brown, who set a personal record in the hammer throw two times this season. Her final career record stands at a distance of 164-1 set at the Penn Relays-a mark that qualified her for the ECAC Championships. Brown also competed in the shot put, discus, and javelin, meanwhile taking in four top-five finishes in the hammer on the season.
Joining her in the throws was junior Labelle Hillgrove, who threw team-best distances in the shot put and discus. An ECAC qualifier in the discus, Hillgrove raked in three top-three finishes to aid the Terps in winning the Maryland Invitational. Also making her name known in the throwing category was freshman Bria Johnson, who set new personal records in the shot put three consecutive meets and took in at least one top-three finish in each of the four throws events.
With multiple seniors graduating and head coach Bill Goodman retiring, the 2003-2004 Terps will look to new leadership to carry them to success. After forging many personal improvements in 2003, next year's Terps will face the challenge of combining their individual talents into a competitive Maryland team.